October 27, 2008
It's Been a Long Time: Zeppelin Brand Naming Flies Again
Would you take a ride in a zeppelin?
I would . . . I think.
A California company called Airship Ventures is offering Americans a chance to ride in a real zeppelin, the first time paying passengers can board one in more than 70 years. People who are into airships (what zeppelins are called by enthusiasts) are thrilled by their return to the states.
But what about the Goodyear blimp, you may ask?
A blimp is not a zeppelin, because it doesn't have the same rigid internal frame. But riding in a blimp sounds safer to me, and a little less edgy than boarding a zeppelin. This may be in part because the name "blimp" is friendlier, even though the actual name comes from the sound made when this huge steerable balloon is pressed with a finger.
Zeppelins, on the other hand, were created by German Count Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin and were a major source of transportation between WWI and WWII, so much so that the spire on the Empire State Building was meant to be a Zeppelin dock.
However, the new zeppelin is far safer. The Hindenburg was filled with highly flammable hydrogen, while the new versions, built in Germany by Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, are filled with nonflammable helium.
Still, the name zeppelin is filled with emotion, possibly because the band Led Zeppelin used a picture of the burning Hindenburg on the cover of their first album, prompting millions of fans to think about the disaster every time they put on the record, much to the irritation of the Zeppelin family.
More than that, zeppelins have a distinctly negative connotation in Europe where at the start of WWI they were used to bomb London from high altitudes in the dead of night. The image of a zeppelin in the sky still carries that frightening association despite the fact that zeppelins have not been used as bombers for over 90 years.
In light of the zeppelin's murky past, it is no surprise that effort is being put into creating excitement around the naming of the Airship Ventures' new aircraft. On the company's web-site, you can try to guess the name of Airship Ventures' new Zeppelin NT04 (New Technology) for a shot at a free ride on what will be the world's biggest zeppelin at 75 meters. Although that may seem rather large, it is a pygmy compared to the Hindenburg and the Graf Zeppelin II, which were built in 1937 and 1938, and were a whopping 245 m in length, making them the biggest flying objects in history.
And just in case you wanted some help making your zeppelin naming guess, Airship Ventures has created a site that examines naming conventions of zeppelins through the decades.
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