Where are the dirigibles?

Where are the dirigibles?

I bought the plane tickets for our annual post-Christmas trip to Austin the other day. With another on the way and Isabella about to move beyond the “lap-child” allowance, this may be our last such trip, at least unless we go at a time of year when flights are even cheaper.

Just for fun, I went to the Amtrak web site to price out tickets to Austin from Boston. The trip would require two overnights and the better part of three days and—with compartments for the two nights—would cost about $1,500. Sheesh! All the convenience and speed of driving with more than the expense of flying. Still, it would be a lot of fun to ride the rails and see the country from ground level.

It makes me wonder, though, why blimps and dirigibles have never made a comeback. Right now, they’re relegated to being floating billboards and camera platforms, but a decent-size dirigible could carry a number of passengers in luxury accommodations at a stately pace, seeing the world, especially bits of the world that are off the beaten path, from above.

Are we still feeling the repercussions of the Hindenburg, 70 years later? Surely technology has advanced enough to have safeguards in place to prevent the recurrence of such a disaster.

Imagine floating across the Atlantic or over the Rockies or across Europe in splendor.

I suppose the problem is that most people care about the destination, not the journey, and only want to get there as fast as possible. I can understand that: after all, I’m opting for bargain airfares and a nonstop flight. But if I could afford it, I’d take the train. Or even the blimp.

  • Don’t ride the rails any time soon. I went from N.C. to Missouri in the 80s and enjoyed it. Because of that, we rode from Delaware to Florida two years ago. What a difference. Trains now consider it pretty good to be 5 hrs late on that length of run. We were 12 hrs late on the return and then we broke down. We were stuffed onto another train, that was already full and treated rudely by the staff. Never again.

  • Trains aren’t all bad.  I always opt for the Acela out of NYC to Washington over the airline shuttle any day of the week.  Something very comforting about sitting on a train watching America’s backyards.  I love it.

  • As a native of Akron, OH, the home of Goodyear Tire & Rubber, where the famous Goodyear blimps are built, my fondest dream is to one day ride a blimp.  I grew up with them humming over town, and like most Akronites, stop and stare as they float overhead.  Even though we probably see them more most people, they never lose their fascination.

  • Funny thing, Dom. My friend Christopher and I were having exactly this discussion just a couple weeks ago about dirigibles.

  • And in related news, Led Zeppelin is playing Monday night in London.  Well, kinda related news…