A Flight Around Silicon Valley

With the Airship "Eureka"

These pages contain pictures taken during a flight of the Airship "Eureka". This airship is one of only two Zeppelins currently in the world that is flying commercially. There are plenty of other "Blimps" around, but the Eureka is a true "Zeppelin" rather than the more common blimp.



A more detailed description of the differences between a Blimp and a Dirigible (in this case, specifically a Zeppelin) as well as some associated technical aspects are presented further down on this page, but the actual pictures taken during the ride are presented on two other pages accessible via the following links:

  • Click Here for the pictures covering the first half of the flight.

  • Click Here for the pictures covering the second half of the flight.

The pictures were spread over two pages just for convenience and so as not to cause an excessive time for the page to be loaded.

Following is a brief introduction about the ship for those more technically inclined.


The picture above was taken about a year before the rest (notice the ship has a different paint job) but I chose to use it here because it shows the engine configuration best.

The main difference between the common Blimp and a Dirigible lies in the presence (or absence) of a rigid frame withing the main envelope. A Zeppelin is a specific make of Dirigible made in Germany by the successors of the original builder - Graf Von Zeppelin. The ship Eureka that is the subject of these pictures is a true Zeppelin, and we'll use that term from here on out.

A Blimp is essentialy just a balloon filled with a gas (usually helium these days) from which is hung a gondola. This gondola is essentially the only rigid structure and as such it has to perform two functions - carry the pilot/crew/passengers and provide a place to put the engines. There is no other place on a Blimp where you can mount the engines - the result is that a Blimp works very much like a conventional winged aircraft when it comes to climbing, turning, and descending. It relies on the tail surfaces (elevator and rudder) to deflect the slipstream generated by the forward-facing propellers to change its attitude and direction.

For take-off (and landing) a Blimp angles its body to point up (or down) and relies on engine power to move forward and climb (or descend) as the case may be. For turning, a Blimp will have some minimum (but fairly large) turning circle - it cannot turn on a dime.

A Zepplelin on the other hand, because it has a rigid "chassis" can have engines (and propellers) mounted wherever it wants. On the Eureka there are effectively four propellers driven by three engines.

From the Eureka's website:

Two lateral and one rear engine steer and propel Eureka. The engines are mounted far above and away from the cabin, ensuring a low noise level for passengers. This position is also responsible for the high performance maneuvering capabilities. The three engines on the Zeppelin are made by Lycoming and combine to produce a maximum speed of 78 miles per hour, with typical cruising speed of 35 to 40 mph.

...Eureka’s two lateral engines provide vectored thrust for even greater maneuverability during flight. Each engine can be rotated 120° and combined with variable pitch propellers, give the airship unmatched ability to stop, hover, land and climb vertically. At the stern of the ship, two propellers work off of one engine. One propeller provides lateral thrust, similar to a helicopter tail rotor. The other propeller can rotate 120° to provide added hover capabilities or when lifted, synchronize with the other two engines to provide forward thrust.

The Eureka can carry 12 passengers with plenty of room to wander about, as well as two crew. Every passenger has a window seat (which also happens to be an aisle seat) and the windows are huge. Below are some images taken of the cockpit and associated instrumentation - for those who have an interest in such matters.


Overall view of the cockpit


Closer view of the instrumentation


Left part of the instruments


Center part of the instruments


Right part of the instruments


  • Click Here for the pictures covering the first half of the flight.

  • Click Here for the pictures covering the second half of the flight.