On the Zeppelin "Eureka" - Take-off and First Half of Flight..

This page has pictures that cover the first part of the flight - taking off from Moffett Field, then flying towards the Stanford "Dish" and Linear Accelerator, then turning towards the Dumbarton Bridge and fling over the new Facebook Campus.


7998   The journey starts at the reception desk and briefing room located in one of the historic buildings of the original Moffett Naval Air Stattion. This field was home to large military dirigible balloons in the earlier part of the 20th century.


7966   The actual building is marked by a sculpture of a Zeppelin outside the front door. Here the sculpture is being held up by fellow passenger Saul - on the occasion of whose 90th birthday we were taking this flight.


8001  Inside we are given a safety briefing prior to flight. Besides the usual instruction on how to don a life-jacket, there are also detailed instructions on how boarding and eventual disembarkation is to take place.


8003   Once briefed, we are ferried out to the apron in a van where the ground crew is alrady waiting. The little cylindrical flag being held by one of the ground crew will function as a wind-sock when the ship lands so that the pilot can see what is happening with the wind as he hovers to pick up passengers.


8006  In the background is one of the "smaller" hangars - built during war-time when materials were scarce, these two hangars are built entirely on a wood frame structure, they are thought to be the largest wood-framed buildings in the world. Also visible in the entrance is the truck with the mooring mast - to which the Eureka is attached when it is parked and engines shut down.

The Eureka only takes up about 1/8th of the available space in this hangar.


8007   Within minutes of our arrival on the apron, The Eureka is spotted in its way in to land.


8010   It comes in directly overhead and starts descending horizontally straight down to a spot a few yards in front of where we are standing.


8013   The engines either side have been rotated to point up instead of forward, and the pitch of the propellers adjusted so they are pushing instead of pulling - this causes the ship to descend against its natural buoyancy.


8017  On touch-down, the ground crew hurries forward with the boarding steps which will actually be attached to the ship - and potentially move up and down with it slightly as the ship hovers balancing on one wheel. The rope hanging down from the nose not only gives the pilot a good indication of how far he is away from actually touching his wheel to the ground, it also serves to discharge any buildup of static electricity charge that the ship might have accumulated during flight.


8018   Once the tip of the rope has touched ground, a crew member can hold on to it and the other crew member can attach the steps to the gondola without fear of getting zapped.


8019   The steps are wheeled up and attached, whereupon two passengers at a time on the ground are allowed to proceed to the steps and climb aboard (only one person on the steps at a time) and two returning passengers are allowed to disembark. This way the weight variation is minimised - if all 12 passengers were to disembark before 12 new ones got on, the weight difference would make life difficult for the pilot who is balancing the ship with gentle pressure on the ground.


8020   Every passenger has a window seat which is also an aisle seat. The rear door is still open as the last passenger comes aboard.


8023   Once everybody is aboard the stewardess flight attendant takes her seat next to the pilot.


8024   And we float up and away as the previous load of passengers waves us on our way. It has an eerie feeling as I usualy associate take-off with an extra roar from the engines, but in this case, we are unaware of the engines doing anything at all.


8028   But a quick glance up and out of the window confirms that the engines have rotated to point forward and we are on our way.


8029   As we rise up we get a good view of the main "big" hangar number one. At the far end you can see where the skin on this hangar is being removed by the original owners (the Navy) because of toxic substances, but the new owners (NASA) are arguing as to who should pay for a new skin. Meanwhile Google has offered to foot the bill, but the mandarins in Washington D.C. don't seem to be capable of accepting this gift without a lot of agony and palaver.


6788   For comparison, this is an earlier picture I took a few years ago - taken from the other side. The old sheds just in front and at the near end of the hangar (to the right of the water tower) used to house the Computer History Museum (which has since moved to bigger and better quarters) and now houses the Moffett Field Museum.


8032  Gaining altitude, we get a good view of Highway 101 which goes left-to-right across this picture and the interchange with Highway 85 which heads off towards Cupertino in the distance.


8033   On the other side of the ship we have a view of Shoreline Amphitheatre and beyond it the golf course and park, with just the end of the boating lake visible at left edge of the picture.


8034   A closer view of the amphitheater.


8035   Here we can see the whole of the boating lake at the bottom of the picture, and the runway at Palo Alto Airport is visible above it in the middle of the picture.


8037   This is almost the same picture, but now I have taken advantage the low noise characteristics of the sensor in my camera to be able to bring out the background. On the horizon on the left we can see the city of San Francisco and on the right Oakland.


8040   The pilot swings the ship round to head towards Los Altos and the Stanford lands.


8042   Looking out of the right side and astern, we can see the tents of the amphitheater, the shoreline golf course, and boating lake recede in the distance behind us.


8046   Looking to the right front through the windshield, we see we are passing over the intersection of Page Mill Road and El Camino, just below the patch of green (middle right of picture) that is the soccer field recently constructed at that intersection.

El Camino is heading North up the picture, and Page Mill across the picture to the left. The twin office towers of Palo Alto Square are easily recognizable below, with Stanford's Hoover Tower coming into view at center top of picture.


8049   Looking up Page Mill Road as it heads to the west, the intersection with Foothill Boulevard is a little ways up from the bottom of the picture.


8051   The intersection of Page Mill Road and Highway 280 is in the middle distance as we cross over to the Stanford Lands just behind the University campus itself.


8052   We pass directly over a building which is appearts to be an astronomical observatory - anybody looking through a powerfull telescope and having us come into view 1000ft above will get a fright.


8053   A little further along and we pass over the "Stanford Dish" - a favorite destination for hikers.


8057   A closer look at "The Dish" - Stanford's Radio Telescope. A few hikers can be spotted on the trail if you look carefully.


8058   We keep flying towards Highway 280.

Looking out of the left side of the ship, Felt Lake can be seen just beyond the highway.


8059   Looking out of the right side of the ship, the view is back towards the Stanford Campus. The red building in the middle is the Stanford Barn which houses their horse-riding facilities.


8061   A little bit further away is Hoover Tower with the bay behind it.


8065  Right below us is "the business end" of the Stanford Linear Accelerator - the long tunnel of the linear collider is off the bottom right of this picture, but it ends up at bottom middle of picture splitting into three branches (three sets of buildings at bottom left of picture angled out like a "Y") which in turn are connected to a PEP storage ring and a SPEAR storage ring buried underground on the left.


8066   Looking right down at where the linear accelerator terminates into three branches and where the circular colliders are buried underground at left.


6751   Here we can see the linear accelerator going under Highway 280 and terminating into three branches below.

On the right is Sand Hill Road heading down towards the Stanford Shopping Center.


8067   Looking in the opposite direction, Sand Hill Road is at bottom left of picture going towards Stanford Hospital and the Shoppimg Center in the distance with the East Bay in the background.


8068   Right over the Stanford University main quadrangle and oval beyond it with Hoover Tower on the right.


8072  Looking down at Hoover Tower.


8074  The main quadrangle and oval at the end of Palm Drive.


8076   The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.


8077   Stanford Shopping Center. The old Hoover Pavilion is clad in white plastic as it is being renovated.


8080   Looking out of the other side of the ship, we are crossing Highway 101 towards East Palo Alto with Ikea (blue line on building) and Home Depot behind it across the parking lot.


8081  Looking in the distance to where we came from, we can just make out the hangars at Moffett Field. Beyond them is the bottom of the bay and Alviso.


8083   Keeping an eye out for traffic on the right as we cross the take-off pattern of Palo Alto Airport and proceed towards the Dumbarton Bridge.


8085   The Dumbarton Bridge leading to the East Bay. Below us are tideland marshes preserved as a bird sanctuary - the little islands are delibrately designed to encourage bird life.


8086   Out of the left side we can see the intersection of University Avenue and Highway 84, this was the former campus of SUN Microsystems, now the new central campus for Facebook. (One rising star sputters and is replaced by a new rising star in Silicon Valley)


8087   Out of the right side we get a good view of the Cooley Landing project where an old toxic dump site at the edge of the bay is being reclaimed for an eventual park.


8093   The Facebook campus in the broader context of the wetlands and Cargill Salt Flats opposite Redwood City in the distance


8095   Overflying the approaches to the Dumbarton Bridge, looking North towards San Francisco.


To see the pictures of the second half of the flight, click here or you can go back to the Introduction page by clicking here.