History was in the air at DuPage Airport as the only zeppelin in the United States soared into town on one of the final stops of its 24 city tour. The zeppelin’s first flight dates back to the year 1900. During World War I, Germany and the U.S. used the airship for surveillance missions.
Today the aircraft carries passengers on sightseeing tours. One of them was David Bier, a LaGrange resident who is no stranger when it comes to flying high. He wanted to take his wife and three children aboard the Farmer’s Insurance zeppelin.
“I loved it. It was a great experience,” said David. “I’m a private pilot. I fly just for fun but this was low and slow, and I love low and slow too.”
“One of my favorite parts is you can stick your head out the window and feel the wind just blowing in your face,” said his daughter Erin.
Named “Eureka,” the airship is on a 6-month nation-wide tour, taking 12 passengers at a time up in the air for a 45-minute ride.
“This is the first zeppelin tour across the U.S. in over 70 years,” said David Finney, Flight Operations Specialist for Airship Ventures. “It’s pretty much a unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Nearly 250 feet long, this zeppelin is 15 feet longer than a Boeing 747 and 50 feet longer than the largest blimp. It also has a different structure that makes for a better sightseeing experience.
“We have an internal frame which allows us to put the engines up on the sides, away from the gondola, which allows for a smoother, quite ride,” said Finney.
“When you first take off, people describe it as maybe being like in an elevator but you have a panoramic view around you,” said Anthony DiZon, Guest Services for Airship Ventures. “It’s sort of like being on a cloud.”
And those who took the ride felt like they were on cloud nine.
“If you like to get airborne, by plane, helicopter – this is a different kind of airborne,” said Chicago resident, Mike Sinner. “It’s slow speed and you get to see everything nice and clearly and slowly.”
“It finishes out my bucket list more or less,” said Raymond Kirk, a LaGrange resident.
The last group of passengers to take a sightseeing tour in a zeppelin was in the popular Hindenburg that crashed in 1937.
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