Airships

(Taken from Relevant Digression)

A common motif in steampunk fiction, the mainstream airship has caught my attention recently.  For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, another term would be zeppelin, similar to the blimp.  It’s a rigid-framed, gas inflated balloon that was once the primary means of commercial air travel.  Sadly, the zeppelin’s golden age only lasted about two decades, ending in the 30′s with the Hindenburg tragedy and the growth of the Third Reich.

So why does this fascinate me?  Because it seems ridiculous to have let such an interesting and picturesque industry to die over bad stigma.  The Hindenburg tragedy even seems a bit overblown, considering two-thirds of the passengers survived the fiery crash.  When compared to the number of survivors in airplane explosions, well, the remains speak for themselves.

That comparison, besides being a bit sick, is unfair.  The two are incomparable by design.  Truly, the zeppelin more closely resembles a cruise ship than an airplane in both size and purpose.  The zeppelin is less of a transport device and more of a luxury gala that floats through the air.  Further, destination is grossly unimportant when compared to what happens aboard the aircraft.

But, Tom, you have no money!  Yeah, I know.  I don’t think I’d want to actually ride a zeppelin because I’m not much of a party guy and I have a distaste for small talk rivalling the people of Holland.  However (yes, this is the but), there’s something majestic about the zeppelin that is completely destroyed by the Goodyear blimp.  The blimp is too small and flies too high with it’s tacky colour schema and annoying electric billboard.  A ship in a metallic or matte grey, several football fields in length and only a few hundred feet off the ground is a beautiful image.  This is compounded by the ideal scenario of waking up one morning, opening the shutters and seeing a giant airship flying overhead, blocking out the sun.  What a glorious sight it would be.

Ah well, I’m sure the alternate universes are having fun with their skyliners.

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