A couple of weeks ago, just before heading to California to visit family, a friend’s tweet alerted me to something I should have known long in advance. The Airship Ventures Zeppelin NT “Eureka” was headed in to town for a two week stint out of Everett’s Paine Field.

A bit of online legwork, and I had left a message with their ticketing department, seeking to arrange a hop for myself and Viv.

The next morning, there was significant media coverage in the region, and their ticketing staff was flattened by the call volume. I started speed-dialing them, realizing what was going on, and in the process managed to fumblefinger the note one, but two callbacks they kindly provided. Eventually, I got through, and we booked a flight for September 5, the weekend after our return to Seattle.

After we were back in town, I realized that one of the flight-education tenants at Paine, the Historic Flight Foundation, was sponsoring an event that coincided with our visit, the Vintage Aircraft Weekend. I had long known of and intended to visit the Flying Heritage Collection as well, so I told Viv we would be making a day of it.

Ages ago, I tracked down Kent Leech, an illustrator who (with his father) created a striking cutaway illustration for National Geographic of the USS Macon, one of the pre-World War II dirigibles that served as a part of the US Navy’s lighter-than-air fleet. In June, Kent contacted me with some more information about the image, and I wrote about it here. “Hm,” I thought, “I wonder if he’d like a copy of that flown on the Eureka?”

I dropped him a line, and the answer was yes, so while in California I ran a couple of giclee prints to bring along.

On checking in, the Airship Ventures staff were all curious about the folder I was carrying. Above their work area was propped a large print of the Macon partially in Hangar One at Moffat Field in the Bay Area. The Eureka is based next to that hangar in Hangar Two.

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Several of them immediately recognized the ship in the illustration, and Brian Hall, the company’s leader, said that he’dlove to be able to display it in their check-in area at Moffat. Unfortunately, the illustration’s rights are 100% resident with National Geographic, so licensing it for other uses involves more than a phone call and a handshake, and I explained this as best I could.

Brian took a picture of me holding the prints and blogged it himself:

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A few minutes later, we were getting a safety briefing (the same stuff you hear once seated on a conventional commercial aircraft) and it was time to trundle out to the landing area to await the return of the ship.

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We lined up in two rows, six each, and were waved forward in pairs, two folks climbing aboard while two folks debarked, in order to permit the ship to maintain it’s relative weight.

One thing that struck me was the fact that the ship’s pivoting propellors permitted the nose-line ground crew to consist of this:

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The boarding process was over quite quickly. Viv and I were the last to board and consequently were seated directly behind the control area, in two rear-facing seats. This was fine with me, as I wanted to be sure to buttonhole our pilot, Katharine Board, as soon as possible in order to get her signature on the Macon prints.

I’ll pick this up later!