Up in the air for a Zeppelin view of London

July 15th, 2008 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  


London, July 15 (IANS) A Zeppelin airship piloted by a German over London skies? The sepia image of 90 years ago turns real once again, this time, as a tourist cruiser over the capital. Britan’s first ever commercial airship, the 246 feet (75 metre)-long Star Over London airship, sponsored by Stella Artois, began flights over London Monday in perfect viewing weather.

Passengers will be able to take to the skies in the airship, which is longer than a jumbo jet, until Aug 21. Tickets are priced from 185 pounds ($370) for a half-hour flight to 360 pounds ($700) for an hour-long trip.

Flights will take off from Damyns Hall airfield, Upminster, and follow the Thames, flying at 1,000 feet (300m) and at up to 40 mph, The Telegraph reports.

It is the airship’s lack of speed and the silence that affords which will attract many to the skies, giving them the ability to hang motionless above the capital’s most famous landmarks.

Ironically, the flights are run by the London office of the Zeppelin Tours company of Germany.

Stretching the coincidence, the airship is piloted by a former East German pilot who has been flying airships for 18 years. Fritz Guenther told The Guardian: “I am from the eastern world and after the wall came down I had to find something else to do. Now I think it is the best way of flying.”

Guenther’s co-pilot, Katharine Board, is British and the first female airship pilot in the world.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am,” she said. “Aircraft are just a little bit dull. Here you get to learn something new every day… It is like riding the waves, like a boat on the water. There’s no other aircraft you can fly this low, this slow. I get paid to float around the world.”

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