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But the two are worlds apart, in technology, time and safety.
The Hindenburg, the first regularly scheduled aerial passenger service between the U.S. and Europe, was a an 803 ft long behemoth with a gas capacity of 706 million cu ft, and sleeping berths for 72 passengers. It was operated by a crew of 40 officers and men, and up to 12 stewards and kitchen staff. It was kept aloft by hydrogen, which was ultimately its downfall.
The Farmers Insurance Zeppelin NT here this week, built by the revived ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik company in Friedrichschafen, Germany, is just over a quarter the length of the Hindenburg, at 246 ft, and carries up to 12 passengers and two crew. Most importantly, it is filled with 290,000 cu ft of non-flammable hydrogen. It is powered by three 200-hp variable pitch, vectoring Lycoming piston engines, two on the hull and the third at the rear.
Unlike the well-known Goodyear airships, which are inflated bags known as blimps, the Zeppelin NT is a semi-dirigible with a structure of graphite reinforced plastic and three longitudinal aluminum girders that carry the motors and passenger gondola.
In that respect the new Zeppelins also differ from those of the past, which had a rigid skeleton covered in fabric that enclosed the decks and lounges and accommodated the huge gasbags.
Earlier this year, Goodyear committed to replace its famous blimps with three of the new Zeppelins, which will be assembled near Akron, Ohio. Each will cost about $21 million each, with technical support, and the first is slated for delivery in 2014. Interestingly, Goodyear worked with Zeppelin 90 years ago to introduce the rigid airships U.S.S. Macon and U.S.S. Akron to the U.S. Navy.
The Farmers Zeppelin, which is usually based in San Francisco and operated by Airship Adventures of California, will be giving rides at AirVenture through July 31.