"[Airships] put me in mind of a man who invents a floor that is perfectly smooth, beautifully patterned, never requires cleaning, and never wears out. Unfortunately, the floor cannot be walked upon with nailed shoes or have anything dropped on it, because it's made of high explosive."While airships in general are cool, the Cool Airship turns this Up to 11. Most of the time, it will have an impossibly cool design which would most likely be unable to fly in Real Life. Fortunately, fiction has Phlebotinum and/or hybrid designs (heavier-than-air airships that fly with some level of aerodynamic assistance from lifting bodies, wings, rotors, etc.) for that little problem. Cool Airships also tend to be exceptionally big, sometimes so big that they double as Airborne Aircraft Carriers or even airborne cities. The Cool Airship is the preferred method of travel for Sky Pirates and technologically-savvy Nazis,note and is extremely common in classic scientific romances and Steam Punk. Technically, airships are far more Diesel Punk, with regards to both style and overall use, but they were actually invented in the Victorian era. The first airship flew in 1852 and was propelled by, you guessed it, a steam engine. Yes, that means blimps were around before the radio, On the Origin of Species, and the Lincoln administration. It's worth noting that not all airships are Cool Airships. For instance, the Goodyear Blimp is definitely not a Cool Airship. Like the Cool Car and the Cool Plane, the Cool Airship is exceptionally cool. Furthermore, it has to be owned by a major character, or otherwise play a prominent role, such as acting as the setting for a major scene. For massive cool points, it should be appointed like Titanic, with a casino, bar, and a sultry chanteuse on board for the entertainment of the passengers. Military or pirate vessels are known to carry an internal aircraft hangar and lots o' guns. Either way, any Cool Airship worth its salt usually boasts an Unnecessarily Large Interior. This is actually justified, in Real Life large airships need the vast hull space for weight distribution. It goes without saying that they are usually commanded by a badass of some sort. Unfortunately, with the destruction of The Hindenburg in 1937, airships were almost phased out in Real Life, so there are few examples in that category, with most modern airships being used for advertising, tourism and surveillance. See our Useful Notes on airships for more information on these craft and their history. Today, it's unlikely that they'll ever make a big comeback and overtake other aircraft, since modern jets are 4-5 times faster and helicopters are more nimble. Then again, even in their heyday airships were never common, seen more as the pinnacle or the titan of aircraft, something rare and newsworthy. However, there is a budding renaissance of Cool Airships being built and tested for niche applications, for example replacing cargo helicopters at ten times the range and a tenth the cost. This is largely fueled by the new development of hybrid(heavier-than-air) airship technology, which gives them much higher payloads, greater speed and more resistance to foul weather. Some other good examples of hybrid airships would be the LEMV and the Aeroscraft. See Zeppelins from Another World for airships being used to help show the viewers that something is set in an Alternate Universe or Alternate History. The two can overlap, but Zeppelins from Another World are often just a background detail, and Cool Airships (including ones in Speculative Fiction) aren't always used to hint at an Alternate Universe setting. After all, some exist in Real Life. In fantasy or Steam Punk settings, the word "airship" will often be used for aircraft that are not airships in the real-life definition of the word. They may look like actual flying ships, or otherwise have no visible means of staying in the air, save for perhaps some tiny propellers or slowly flapping wings. Usually these use some sort of vague Applied Phlebotinum to lift off the ground, if it's even explained at all. A Sub-Trope of Cool Ship, and so a Sister Trope of Cool Boat and Cool Plane. Related to the Square/Cube Law, Hollywood Density and Balloonacy, depending on how it falls on the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness. If it's a Living Ship, it's probably also a Living Gasbag. See also Global Airship for the video game-specific variant. And remember... IT IS NOT A BLIMP, IT'S AN AIRSHIP!
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Anime & Manga
- Arcus Prima from Simoun. Also an Airborne Aircraft Carrier.
- The thieves' airship in The Daughter of Twenty Faces.
- The Silvana from Last Exile. Hell, EVERY ship from Last Exile.
- Mazinger Z: Guru, Count Brocken's aerial fortress. It appears for first time at the episode 40.
- Great Mazinger: Mykeros and Demonika, Mykene army's flying fortresses and aerial carriers.
- The Gekko from Eureka Seven, which is also capable of suborbital/orbital operations.
- Millennium of Hellsing fame have three airships - the two Graf Zeppelins, one of which withstood fire from Harkonnan 2, and the Hindenburg II, which dwarfed Buckingham Palace and contained an army of 1000 vampires.
- Chao Lingshen's airship in Mahou Sensei Negima!, which served as the stage for the final battle in the Festival Arc.
- When the group gets to the Magic World, there are cool airships everywhere, although they're somehow combined with the Flying Seafood Special. Haruna managed to get her hands on her own Cool Airship by drawing and selling dojinji to the lack of supply magic world and earned a fortune, and the Ala Alba uses it as their base.
- The AAA Wunder from Evangelion 3.33.
- Gaiking: The Legend of Daiku-Maryu, the ship being the titular Daikuu Maryuu. The Daichi Maryuu and the Tenkuu Maryuu are also examples, though the Daichi is more like a Cool Tank. And they're all shaped like dragons.
- Lawrence III's airship Hikōkyū (Japanese for "Flying Palace") from Pokémon 2000 and Zero's Megarig from Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior; also the Battle Pyramid (inhabited by Frontier Brain Brandon) most likely qualifies as an airship. All three of these crashed in pursuit of a Legendary Pokémon, no less.
- In Pokémon Special, there's the Team Rocket Airship that can turn into a stadium with a push of a button. Giovanni probably designed it that way specifically for his rematch with Red.
- And Team Rockets' Meowth-shaped hot air balloon, which just happens to be their main form of transportation. However, after they Took a Level in Badass in the Best Wishes anime, they abandoned the Meowth balloon and replaced it with a simple purple hot air balloon with a stylized Team Rocket "R" insignia on it.
- Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta: Some of the aircraft are actually pretty realistic. Others... not so much.
- The Shengdi from the manhua series Bloodline, have these that act as their mobile bases of operations.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! gives us Seto Kaiba's airship, which bears◊ resemblance◊ to your stereotypical blimps or semi-rigid frames (although, considering what it was capable of, it was probably rigid). The gondola on the bottom was large and comfortable enough to host the Battle City finalists and their friends, as well as Kaiba and his employees. There was also a lift which took people to the top of the airship, where a large dueling arena was installed, notable for having Tristan and Duke almost fall off the edge. Yup, children's card games are just that important.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Yuma and Anna team up against Tobio and Umimi in one two-part episode, two duelists who use monsters that are Cool Airships; Tobio's monster is Supercolossal Airship Giant Hindenburg, while Umimi's is Supercolossal Unsinkable Superliner Elegant Titanic (which, despite being named after a boat, is also an airship). They later use both monsters to Xyz Summon the even cooler Skypalace Gangaridai, and then use it to summon the coolest airship of all, CXyz Skypalace Babylon. Unfortunately, the last one is an evil card given to them by the Barians, making them their Unwitting Pawns; eventually despite all the coolness, they lose.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions's prequel manga, many guilds in Kaiba Corps's VRMMORPG ride one of these to face down other guilds riding other cool airships. Kaiba gets his own personal airship that can be summed up as "rocket-powered Blue-Eyes White Dragon head".
- Hellywood from Now and Then, Here and There is a prime example of this trope. It also leads to the possibility that the world that this show is set in is actually a dystopian steam punk world, since this beast of an airship flies on water! But probably (and hopefully) not.
- The Takarabune (Treasure Ship) in Nurarihyon no Mago, which Rikuo and his hyakki-yako use to storm Kyoto after Hagoromo Gitsune. Apparently the old Nurarihyon has been holding out on showing it to his grandson.
Rikuo: (after he first sees it) No one's ever told me about that...
- The Vision of Escaflowne: The anime features a huge variety of airships. All of them operate on the concept of "float stones" rocks that seem to be a super conducting element native to Gaea which naturally float as a result of magnetics. They can be caused to descend by heating them, which just like regular magnets causes them to stop functioning until cooled. The principle airship is the Crusade, but many many others are seen through the series.
- Professor Moriarty and Fu Manchu attack London with their Cool Airships in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
- Well, Fu Manchu was working on a Cool Airship, but never completed it. The airships both ran on Cavorite, an anti-gravity element, and there wasn't enough to go around. Moriarity stole the element from Fu Manchu to run his airship, which Fu Manchu promptly attacked with an army of kite-men. It was pretty badass.
- The second Nite Owl in Watchmen has a cool airship, named 'Archie'. It's noted as the only airship in the world that can maneuver between buildings, and underwater.
- Both Classic and Ultimate Marvel Comics universes have the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. In the classic universe, it seemingly stays airborne 24/7.
- Lord Blackpool's gigantic airship The Helio Arx in Lady Mechanika.
- Crimson Skies is essentially a world made up of flying airships, air commerce and air pirates in the 1940s. Used for cargo, transportation and carriers for smaller aircraft, there's no shortage of cool airships flying around. The novels and videogames also reflect this.
- In Red Hood and the Outlaws the team takes possession of Crux's airship after defeating him. It has enough features and gadget to make Arsenal very happy, including a cloaking device and vertical take-off and landing capacities.
Arsenal : Before anyone asks—yes, I'm in LOVE.
- In Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four, Doom has an airship that is literally a ship with a balloon over the top. He uses it to kidnap William Shakespeare.
- The French Revolution Batman in the Elseworld Batman: Reign of Terror has something similar, with a bat insignia on the balloon.
- Requiem Vampire Knight features airships very prominently, but the biggest example is the S.S. Satanik, Dracula's personal flagship: its a colossal monster that makes Men o'War look like boats in comparison, its crewed by 5,000 vampires, plus 500 victims and a team of 400 Archaeologists to maintain the ship. Its armed with weapons from every Earth era, including demonically-guided impalers, photon torpedoes, tractor beams and three Doomsday Men (exceptionally evil vampires that had to be locked up inside coffins). In addition, its protected by phantom and demonic shields, has its own ballroom, chapel, several dungeons and many impaling facilities.
- Child of the Storm has the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier (which, predictably, crashes in chapter 70), with mention of MI 13's Valiant (not from Doctor Who, which is fiction in this 'verse - though jokes are cracked about the name being the same) which is apparently delayed by over six months thanks to BAE screwing up the engines according to chapter 77. HYDRA have a bigger, badder Helicarrier called the Dreadnought. It was originally a prototype SHIELD Helicarrier until the HYDRA Agents within SHIELD faked its explosive destruction and smuggled it away. It's armed with Destroyer weaponry, has repulsor tech engines, a Nexus Engine of Bifrost tech that allows it to teleport anywhere in the world and, following the events of chapter 70, a vibranium hull. Of course, it doesn't last long either with Magneto scrunching it up like a ball of foil in chapter 77.
- In Dungeon Keeper Ami- due to an impending ritual by the cult of Crowned Death Ami is forced to construct a fleet of these to conduct her forces across a quarter of the planet in less than three days, to prevent eight thousand innocents from being tortured to death. They also engage an undead navy in mid-air combat (due to undead warlocks levitateing the ships). They were (naturally) equipped with swivelling turrets for their mounted canons, Reaperbot repelling lines, and an entertainment system for Rabixtriel...
- In Legionnaire, Equestria has the biggest airships and the largest air fleet in the world.
- The Mixed-Up Life of Brad: Princesses Celestia and Luna have impressive private airships (Solar Barque and Selenic Maiden), both of which are so huge that they don't fit in any airship port and need to be anchored to the castle while they're in the capital.
- The Summerstar, Lionel Summerset's personal zeppelin from Sunset Rekindled, which becomes the heroes' main source of transportation after the Las Pegasus arc of the story. Its cab/gondola is massive, has an armoury, a lounge with a fully-stocked bar, multiple bedrooms, an infirmary, a casino, a library/study area, a cargo bay, along with special modifications such as booster engines and on-board weaponry in the form of a Howitzer-esque cannon (which is later joined by a Gatling Gun) scavenged from Fort Echidna).
- Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space by Odon. In the zeerust future of 2009, Captain Proton uses a vacuum-dirigible to travel across Mysterious Antarctica — vacuum being literally lighter-than-air gives it lift, and propulsion is via corkscrew driving planes encircling the dirigible.
- In Tealove's Steamy Adventure, Minty travels in a hot air balloon that, with the flick of a lever, can transform into a glider. Baron Zeppeli pursues them in his slightly-less-cool lead zeppelin.
- In The Great Alicorn Hunt, once each of the Mane Six becomes an alicorn, and prepare to go on their country-wide tours (as cover for searching for more potential alicorns), they are each given an airship that they are able to customize to their heart's content.
- MLP Next Generation: Know Fear! has Twilight's personal airship, the warship Avalon. Sadly, during the first sequel, it gets shot down by the griffons; while it survives the landing, it eventually has to be sacrificed Enterprise-style in order to take out a griffon-allied Diamond Dog army.
- Exchange has the Dawn Star which, despite having only two cannons that were added on later, manages to overcome incredible feats such as taking on an entire armada of military airships and defeating Twilight Sparkle's Harbringer (though not without sacrifice of the ship).
Films — Animation
- The Goliath and the Tiger Moth from Castle in the Sky.
- Al Oft the Lightyear blimp from Cars.
- Ratigan's pedal-powered blimp from The Great Mouse Detective, as well as the Union Jack and sardine can-made blimp used by the heroes.
- The Gyro-evac from Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
- Cid Highwind's new airship, the Shera, in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
- The heavily-armed 1,500-foot A.R.E.S. airships like the Leviathan and the Agamemnon from War of the Worlds: Goliath.
Films — Live-Action
- The airship in Master of the World is kept up by multiple fixed vertical propellers, and closely resembles the sea going Nautilus.
- The titular school in Sky High (2005) levitates, and constantly moves around to keep villains from attacking it.
- Franky's flying RAF base 'Manta Station' in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
- Three guesses about which airship it is in the Czech film The Stolen Airship.
- In Stardust, Captain Shakespeare pilots a flying ship, called the Caspartine. Literally. Like a sea ship that flies. It also harvests lightning.
- The Luxembourg from The Rocketeer.
- The Hyperion, the airship that carried the expedition in The Island at the Top of the World.
- Valentine's flying, possibly sentient Tower from MirrorMask.
- Have to watch again to double check but didn't it just jump really high not fly?
- Indiana Jones and his dad escape from Germany in one in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and later have to escape from it too.
- Made all the cooler because it's a REAL Cool Airship, The Hindenburg.
- The Jones' travel on LZ-138 ("Luftschiff Zeppelin 138"). It was owned (in fiction) by Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei, the same company that owned and flew the Hindenburg, but the Jones' weren't on the actual Hindenburg. Actual registration numbers only went to LZ-130.
- Max Zorin's airship from A View to a Kill may look like a boring old blimp, but does yours unfold from a construction shack and come with an integrated deathtrap? Max even gets to make a Bond One-Liner.
- Lee Scorsby's marvelously baroque transport in The Golden Compass surely qualifies here.
- The Great Race - Professor Fate has an exceptionally small Cool Airship - two-person, pedal-powered - this troper seriously wants one.
- The 2011 version of ''The Three Musketeers'' has a definitely cool British airship based (in-story) on a Leonardo da Vinci design. Cardinal Richelieu's forces get an ever bigger one near the end of the film and use it to combat the former that the musketeers had hijacked. Both ships crash eventually, but The Stinger reveals Buckingham is back for a vengeance with a whole armada of airships.
- The Skyship One from the Thunderbirds Spin-Off movie Thunderbird 6 is a variation. Designed by Brains, it travels just like a regular airship but uses Anti Gravity instead of buoyant gas.
- The airship "Italia" in the 1969 movie The Red Tent, at least until it crashes in a storm, stranding its crew on the polar ice.
- The Raven from Elysium, Kruger's military transport that even fly into orbit.
- The heroes from Five Weeks in a Balloon fly around in one, exploring Darkest Africa.
- Kenneth Oppel's books, Airborn, Skybreaker, and Starclimber, are the very embodiment of this trope: they take place in an alternate history in which airships never lost popularity, despite the Hindenburg incident, thanks to the new element 'hydrium'. This changes technological advancement to an enormous extent (whether it is for better or for worse is extremely subjective) and airships and ornithopters are now several hundred times more popular than any sea-going vessel. The main character (Matt Cruse, a name which immediately screams "adventure/romance novel") starts out aboard the Aurora, an incredibly luxurious, enormous airship. Later on in Skybreaker, a very low-class ship is shown, and then another high-price ship that can also reach incredible altitudes. In the same book, the plot centers around an absolutely immense derelict airship.
- Every single novel in the Timeline Wars series by John Barnes involves a Cool Airship. The fact that the second book is named Washington's Dirigible is sort of a clue; that book ends with a climactic battle on the airship.
- Tarzan at the Earth's Core (available here). The 0-220, the airship used by an expedition to travel to the hollow center of the Earth through the North Pole entrance. Instead of hydrogen or helium, it used vacuum tanks for lift. There's a complete description at the end of Chapter 2.
- The Hieronymus Bosch, the luxury airship that carries the scientific mission to the Amazon in A Season For Slaughter, the fourth book in David Gerrold's The War Against the Chtorr series.
- According to The Areas of My Expertise, President Hoover spent the better part of the 1930s on his hoveryacht in the Caspian Sea. In the sequel, John Hodgman rides around in a zeppelin called The Hubris, given to him as a gift by Emo Phillips.
- From the Warhammer Fantasy adventures of Gotrek & Felix, the Spirit of Grungni, built by dwarf engineer turned Slayer Malakai Makaisson to fly into the Chaos Wastes. An airship, armed with gatling guns yet, in a world where most fighting is still done with sword and bow is cool indeed.
- Any and every sky ship from The Edge Chronicles probably fits this trope, more or less looking like a typical pirate ship except capable of flight, and usually with a crew made up entirely of badasses.
- Not to mention they get their lighter-than-air capabilities from magic floating rocks.
- The Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock has one.
- Airships of various coolness also show up in Moorcock's The Cornelius Chronicles.
- In the 1981 book Megalodon by Robin Brown, the protagonists have to transport a sperm whale thousands of miles to their base of operations in the Pacific. They discover that the only aircraft big enough is a MK-10 Low-Altitude Helium Dirigible tank transporter. While the vessel itself turns out to be quite cool, it's agreed by all concerned that the addition of an underslung sixty-foot whale elevates it to Crowning Moment of Awesome status.
- Not really an airship, but the Victoria from Jules Verne's first published novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, is cool because it is capable of having its altitude controlled without losing gas or ballast, and therefore of staying aloft for five weeks to explore the heart of Africa. It's kept aloft by a combination of heat and hydrogen gas. The other characters point out how dangerous this is, but Ferguson, the inventor, is willing to take the risk. (The Other Wiki's page on the book has an entire section about how the balloon's mechanism as described by Verne is scientifically impossible.)
- Rudyard Kipling's "With the Night Mail" was set on an airship which got its lift from "Fleury's Gas," energized by "Fleury's Ray." This provided much more lift than hydrogen or helium, allowing the airship to be built with a more rigid structure and thus hit higher speeds. As in 210 knots at one point. (USS Macon maxed out at 76 knots.)
- Robert Rankin's novel, Retromancer, and the recent The Japanese Devil Fish Girl both feature different cool airships. The first plays music designed to herald the arrival of the ship by scaring the shit out of people.The chapter that features the airship attacking New York has diagrams as a chapter picture. The second crashes and burns. The second is touted as a fine example of British engineering. Make of that what you will.
- '70s novel A Game of Titans pits the Real Life Soviet aircraft carrier Kiev against the USAF nuclear-powered airship Grand Eagle. The airship carries a contingent of Harriers. It also has cruise missiles and lasers.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom stories include airships lifted by 'Ray Tanks'.
- The Arthur C. Clarke novella "A Meeting with Medusa" features a couple of Cool Airships. The story opens with the protagonist as captain of a 1500-foot-long helium-filled dirigible, intended to serve as a flying luxury cruise ship. Unfortunately, the Queen Elizabeth IV is destroyed in a freak accident during a test flight over the Grand Canyon. The action then flashes forward to seven years later, with the protagonist now about to embark on a voyage in the story's second Cool Airship, a nuclear-fusion-powered hot-hydrogen balloon—that will be dropped into the atmosphere of Jupiter.
- Jonathan Howard's Johannes Cabal the Detective has one with a murder mystery onboard. It also doubles as an aircraft carrier, with gyroscopic small fliers on its flat top.
- The Leviathan from the eponymous novel, is a basically a flying whale whose entire onboard systems are also an ecosystem.
- Tales Of The Ketty Jay is a series about steampunk airship pirates. The Ketty Jay manages to be a Cool Airship, despite being quite an old and outdated model at the time the novel is set. Apparently she's patched together in such a haphazzard way, that only Frey can really fly her to her full potential. The Delerium Trigger is a more straightfoward example, although while it's very big and powerful, it's not quite as fast as the smaller fighter ships.
- The eponymous vessel in The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara series is one of the coolest of the Magitek airships the Rovers have started piloting in the 130 years since the previous Shannara saga.
- The Clementine, from the novella of the same name by Cherie Priest. In fact her whole Clockwork Century series is chock-full of cool airships.
- The Mark Twain from The Long Earth. Not only can it fly, it can also "step" between parallel Earths at a great pace. It also has a great deal of laboratories and robots for its AI captain, Lobsang, to experiment with.
- By The Long War 'twains' have become a standard feature of the Long Earth. Most aren't quite so cool as the Mark Twain (for one, most of them aren't captained by Lobsang), but the airships of the US Navy military flag-showing expedition West (especially the USS Benjamin Franklin, as that is the one we see the most) and the Chinese test-bed Zheng He get up there.
- Chanters of Tremaris features an ancient spaceship that was landed, converted into a city, and abandoned.
- Jack Vance's Durdane trilogy, The Amome (aka The Faceless Man), The Brave Free Men and The Asutra, features passenger airships tethered to dollies on fixed ground tracks, thus making them an odd hybrid of airship and train.
- The Argo II in The Heroes of Olympus, is a flying Greek trireme. While the ballistae that fire exploding bolts are cool, the best feature is the control systems, which include a keyboard and monitor, aviation controls of a Lear jet, a dubstep soundboard, and a Wiimote.
- In several of the Doc Savage novels, Doc employs a highly advanced airship of his own design that employs a lifting gas of his own invention, with a buoyancy greater than hydrogen but not flammable.
- Subverted in Jules Verne's Robur the Conqueror. The lighter-than-air Go Ahead is an impressive airship in itself, but it looks absolutely pathetic next to the heavier-than-air giant rotary flying machine Albatross.
- The main setting of Free Wrench and its sequel, Skykeep, are airships. The Dreadnought is a massive war platform, the Wind Breaker is recognizable because of its Calderan decoration and the Skykeep is The Alcatraz.
- In Terminal World, Swarm is a mobile city composed of dozens of massive zeppelins. The airships are built with a massive array of redundant archaic technology as the laws of reality can shift without warning and render more advanced equipment useless. Citizens traverse the city via small dirigible "taxis" or flexible rope bridges. Swarm scouts out its travel path with small, autocannon-toting airships.
- The Cinder Spires takes place in a Steam Punk world After the End, where humanity lives in the titular huge spires, high above the clouds. Airships are the primary mode of travel between spires, and the first novel features several cool ones, including Grimm's ship Predator, as well as the much feared battlecruiser Itasca
- In the Jackelian Series, the Kingdom of Jackals has an entire air force of them. In Jack Cloudie, Cassarabia fields a fleet of its own, and the Cool Prototype Airship Iron Partridge more than holds its own against them.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike has one. We don't know where he got it, but it is awesome.
- Doctor Who
- "The Age of Steel".
- The UNIT airship The Valiant featured in several episodes in 2007 and 2008.
- Team Knight Rider has the heroes move around in one of these as well.
- LazyTown's Sportacus not only travels in a cool airship, he lives in it too.
- The Aurora in The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne is the first dirigible in the world, owned by Phileas Fogg. It serves as the homebase of the main characters. Also, an episode is featured where villains make their own airship and arm it with heavy guns in order to support the South in The American Civil War.
Myths & Religion
- At the close of the 19th century, decades before the modern UFO phenomenon started, there was the bizarre phenomenon of people sighting a mysterious, impossibly fast airship all across the country. The Mystery Airship stories are all the more striking because of how closely they parallel the flying saucer stories of more recent times... except nobody claimed it was a spaceship; it was manifestly a blimp. A small percentage of people claimed to have actually made contact with the crew, and while they were often described as "foreign," they were consistently human. It all has a very Jules Verne feel to it.
- This is one of Professor Steam's Contraptions in Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey, and building it enables the Airship Adventure.
- SPECTRUM HQ in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Mystara has a lot of these and most of the world was introduced via travel logs of one. Bonus points for having a sourcebook named simply Top Ballista.
- Forgotten Realms magocracy Halruaa has levitating sailing skyships.
- Eberron has elemental airships, where elemental creatures are trapped in a crystal maze engine.
- Magic: The Gathering had The Weatherlight, a flying ship that could travel across the planes, and also served as the centerpiece in an epic plan to protect the world from extraplanar invasion.
- There was also its flying rival, The Predator.
- "Airlords of the Ozarks," an adventure for Twilight: 2000, had the players, having returned to the U.S.A., recruited to investigate what turned out to be a neo-fascist movement using airships for raids to build a power base.
- Space 1889 has many of these, usually of flying battleship variety. Some of them are actually regular navy ships modified for aerodynamics and fitted with anti-gravitic propulsion. On Venus there the anti-gravity liftwood deteriorates very quickly, there are also traditional Zeppelins, before they came into being historically.
- Ditto for the Sky Galleons of Mars, a tabletop game based on Space 1889.
- Pyramid Vol 3 #64 "Pirates and Swashbucklers" includes an article called "Sailing the Open Skies", about using GURPS Spaceships rules to create Magitek and Steam Punk airships, including examples: the Cloudclipper, a "sailpunk" flying boat powered by magical solar sails; the Seahorse, an assault cruiser with magical propellers, carrying Sand Flea Land, Sea and Air vehicles, all powered by elemental furnaces; and the Stormrider, a psychically controlled and powered living airship created from the remains of a telekinetic Living Gasbag called a Cloud-That-Hungers.
- In Rocket Age they're used for navigating the atmospheres of Jupiter where a rocket-ship may ignite a gas pocket. There are also convertables, rocket-ships that can deploy balloons and propellers to become an airship. The Jovians one-up this by having airships that float without balloons. Their cities also count, being domed airships that hide deeper in the atmosphere. The H'Slit Venusian nations use stone, leather and wood gliders and sail-craft to travel between the peaks of their home mountain range.
- Anima: Beyond Fantasy has several, that work with the help of some Magitek and are used as the equivalent of luxury liners. The most notable of them is "The Lady" in the only adventure module for the game it's hijacked and apparently ends crashing.
- The Kirov airship from the Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series, sporting shark-decals and dropping extremely devastating bombs on the enemy. A veteran Kirov starts dropping Tesla bombs.
- A Global Airship is a frequent feature of RPGs, often it will be an actual Cool Airship.
- The Final Fantasy games have all had airships right from the very first game. Having said that, some are a lot more notable than others:
- Final Fantasy III has four. The simple nameless airship owned by Cid, which is destroyed early on. The Enterprise, which starts as a normal ship, and is later modified to be able to switch between sailing and flying, and which is later shot down over Saronia. The Nautilus, which is eventually modified to be able to go underwater as well. And last but certainly not least, the Invincible, a monstrously huge airship which, while lacking speed and the ability to go underwater, contains beds for healing, shops, and a Fat Chocobo, and can pass over mountain ranges. The Invincible is also the first airship in the series that you can actually explore as an area. Interestingly enough, you don't lose the Nautilus once you get the Invincible.
- Final Fantasy IV has Baron's armed airship fleet, which is what enables Baron to become the most powerful nation in the game and gather the crystals from other places. Cid's Airship, the Enterprise is a basic model but his second airship, The Falcon, gets a giant drill on the front to bore through the earth. Even better is the Lunar Whale, while technically a Cool Starship only ever travels to the moon and otherwise behaves just like the airship as well as a portable inn & item storage
- Final Fantasy V's airship, while it doesn't get a fancy name (it's simply called "the airship" because it's unique), has the ability to change between airship, regular ship and submarine forms. And comes with its own helipad-equipped Elaborate Underground Base.
- Final Fantasy VI has Setzer's Blackjack, which not only is a speedy airship but also doubles as a flying casino (sadly no minigames) and bachelor pad. The second airship found in the game, the Falcon, is faster but significantly less stylish.
- Final Fantasy VII has the Highwind, which in addition to serving as the Global Airship, also is used to air-drop the party into Midgar.
- Final Fantasy VIII has two, sort of. The first is the Balamb Garden itself, which hovers above the ground a little and is fairly unique among airships in that its also a flying military academy... the coolness of the craft is debatable. However the second airship is the Ragnarok, which is much smaller than the Garden, but has a sleek design, a forward mounted gatling gun, grappler claws, and is capable of space flight, and serves as much more so the 'cool' ship of the game...not to mention it looks like a freaking DRAGON.
- Final Fantasy X has an airship that looks more Cool Starship than airship. You can walk it's corridors containing many characters or just use the GPS navigation system to get around the game world (no manual flying, sorry).
- Final Fantasy XIV has the Enterprise, Cid Garlond's personal airship which he uses to help the heroes travel to dangerous or far-off locations. Some in-game mounts also count, including manacutters and the Falcon.
- In Final Fantasy XV, the Nifelheim Empire has a battalion of Cool Airships. After beating the game, you can also upgrade your car, the Regalia, into a Cool Aircar.
- In Granblue Fantasy, you and your crew get around the world with an airship called the Grandcypher, through the Crew/Guild system you can also get the Dravenspirit, Frontier, and Engella, though they only receive passing mention in the main story.
- Skies of Arcadia has all kinds of airships, but by far the coolest of the Cool Airships is the Delphinus, a Super Prototype battleship that your characters steal about halfway through the game. In a world where the majority of airships resemble old wooden sailing ships or World War I-era destroyers, the Delphinus is a sleek and angular death machine based on WWII-era battleships and armed to the teeth with cannons, magic cannons, torpedoes, and a Wave Motion Gun to make the Yamato green with envy. Crew must also be recruited from around the world to man this fortress.
- The Airship Captain in Nox is, well, The Captain of a Cool Airship.
- Wild ARMs 3 features A quest to find and defeat a mystical dragon which actually turns out to be a giant flying, sleek, mechanical aircraft from the past , possibly also a transforming giant robot.
- An extremely prominent example of this trope is found in Wolfenstein. The Zeppelin used by the occult-Nazis is like a dark, gritty, realistic version of kilometer-long Castle Wulfenbach, the page image. Naturally, it's also an Airborne Aircraft Carrier, and becomes a literal example of Zeppelins from Another World as it tears open a rift to another dimension.
- Orgrim's Hammer and the Skybreaker, airships used by Horde and Alliance as bases of operation in Icecrown in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to World of Warcraft are pretty cool. The Hammer boat with a pair of Zeppelin blimps tied to it with nothing but Rule of Cool, while the Skybreaker is essentially a large ship with propellers fitted on it.
- More ships of the same models appear in Deepholm in the Cataclysm expansion, the Horde's having been shot down when the Alliance's was taken over by cultists.
- Another Alliance airship, The Skyfire, is in the final battle with Deathwing, chasing him when he flees to the Maelstrom. In Mists of Pandaria it battles the Horde in Pandaria, and later in Legion, when the Horde destroy it.
- In the Pandaren starting zone, the Wandering Isle, when is actually a giant turtle named Shen-zin Su, a crashed Alliance airship named the Skyseeker injures said turtle.
- The Pact airships of Guild Wars 2, built to shoot down dragons and the Pact flagship, an immense airship built with significantly higher tech equipped with a Wave Motion Gun that chases down one of the Big Bad dragon lords of the game in a sequence that is entirely original. Stolen Pact airships are also used by the the Aetherblade.
- Scarlet Briar had the massive Breachmaker, a massive flying drill half the size of a city, which she used to rupture a leyline in the bay outside Lion's Arch.
- Super Mario Bros. 3 has an airship run for the Koopalings' fortresses! It's also the source of one of the most epic themes in the series. Several of the game worlds also feature standalone airship levels that will appear on the map after some time.
- Meta Knight's Iconic Face Ship, the Halberd, features bat-wings and its own Wave Motion Gun, and a reactor powered by Wheelies. The battleship appears in what is arguably the most intense mode of the original Kirby Super Star. But what kind of weirdo puts his face on the bow of a ship, anyway?
- Crimson Skies features flying airships, heroic pilots in tiny planes and a world centered around air commerce and piracy. The two videogames focus on protagonist Nathan Zachery, leader of the Fortune Hunters, who steals a flying airship named the Pandora early on and uses it as home base and a flying carrier for the rest of his adventures. Other groups are seen with their own cool airships.
- Drakengard doesn't give the player a cool airship, since they ride atop a dragon, however later air battles feature enemy airships which must be destroyed section by section, engine by engine.
- Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere has the UI-series blimps; the UI-4052 Cralias (misspelling of Clarias, genus of catfish), which was hijacked by a terrorist group carrying a bioweapon, and the infinitely cooler UI-4053 Sphyrna (named after a genus of hammerhead sharks), which is a heavily armed and armored Flying Aircraft Carrier. It became the symbol of a late game terrorist organization and its de facto moving HQ. All endings require you to destroy this beast, and it houses two of the game's most powerful (read: toughest to beat) planes: the Wave Motion Gun-equipped MacGuffin plane X-49 Raven and the Big Bad's Super Prototype UI-4054 Aurora. Part of the difficulty downing the blimp is that, unlike other airborne things in game, you need to target its weapons systems, sub-engines and finally main engine for it to go down, at least for the current mission.
- The Gravship air-unit chassis of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri may not immediately appear to be an airship...until you realize that it's a heavier-than air airship using Anti Gravity as a replacement for helium. Look at the model: giant ducted fans on either side—just like a real airship. At this point it becomes really impressive.
- Most ships in Bioshock Infinite, but particularly Comstock's ship, the giant battleship Hand of the Prophet, and the First Lady — which doesn't have much coolness on the performance side of things, except for being able to fly itself to any point on the planet, but it sure looks cool with its gold finish and the portrait of lady Comstock on the side.
- Guns of Icarus Online is all about flying fantastic airships into battle with other cool airships.
- Guilty Gear has the Mayship, which belongs to Johnny and his all-female Badass Crew, the Jellyfish Pirates. The Mayship's Rule of Cool is turned Up to 11 in May's new Insta Kill in 'X-Sign, where she and April use its main cannon to shoot May's opponent off the stage and win the round.
- A small airship that Sam Mainey fills up with collected gas in Schizm: Mysterious Journey. It visually resembles a catfish, its mouth acts as the boarding stairs, and navigation is simply achieved by entering three individual coordinates and the push of a button, much like Hannah Grant's living ship.
- William The Kid has a "giant, metallic getaway blimp" which shows up at the end of SPY Fox in Dry Cereal. Given the cartoony setting, it flies using propellers on the top of the craft itself, and the ejection seat is operated using a toaster.
- In Nefarious, the Villain Protagonist Crow has a massive airship called The Sovereign, which acts as the game's central hub.
- In the online virtual pet game Neopets, one of the plots involved a Lutari explorer who travelled in a pretty neat flying ship.
- The final level of CarnEvil takes place aboard Ludwig Von Tökkentäkker's airship. You end up fighting him (and a large number of skeletons) aboard it.
- Flying Galleus and Flying Line Galleus in Warlock: Master Of The Arcane are haunted sailing ships that fly. They they serve as the undead siege unit.
- The Lemmings get one of these in the form of The Ark.
- The Wonderful 101 has the Virgin Victory, the CENTINELS base and main form of transportation. It can also be fired like a gun.
- In Angry Birds 2, the boss pigs fly around on a rickety airship that looks like something out of Bad Piggies. Whenever you beat one of them, the next in line will fly away with the eggs.
- Fallout 4 has the Prydwen, a nuclear-powered airship which serves as the mobile base of the Brotherhood of Steel, and is also an Airborne Aircraft Carrier with docking space for the Brotherhood's Vertibirds. The only way to access it is by Vertibird from the Brotherhood's airport base or called in by flare from anywhere in the Commonwealth.
- Several mooks in the Stormwinds series are huge airships or giant flying ships. They tend to have lots of health and firepower, as well as helium balloons that carry them up. Shooting them in the helium balloons causes them to take massive damage.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Divine Beast Vah Medoh is an airship shaped like a giant bird. It is initially seen circling around Rito Village and keeping them from flying too high lest it shoot at them with its laser cannons. Once it has been subdued, it will perch above their village.
- The setting of Granblue Fantasy takes place in a World in the Sky, so airships are everywhere. However, the main example is the airship the heroes use, the Grandcypher. The Crew/Guild system also allows you to unlock three more airships: the Dravenspirit, Frontier, and Engella.
- The page image is Castle Wulfenbach, mobile fortress, administrative center and war machine of the Wulfenbach Empire in Girl Genius. It's roughly a kilometer long, has an entire fleet of additional airships to support it, and some of the people who work there haven't set foot on the ground in years. Air-warships in general are a mainstay of Baron Klaus Wulfenbach's armed forces as well.
- In Kidd Commander, Starships, powered by starstone, are obviously bigger inside than outside. Their appearance can change, and they can be used to catch the sun, whatever that means.
- Crimson Flag has the Death Evan.
- In Alien Hand Syndrome the heroines Mina and Erin travel to Erin's homeland in a large passenger airship, first class, thanks to Erin's rich parents. The page image shows them with the airship in the background, cropped from a bigger image that can be found on DeviantArt here.
- In The Order of the Stick, Julio Scoundrél is the captain of the Mechane, which looks exactly like the Blackjack from Final Fantasy VI.
- Wonderella has an invisible blimp.
- The prologue of The Story of Anima takes place aboard one. We never get to see it in full, but it makes one heck of a battleground once its engulfed in flames.
- In Champions of Faraus, airships are used by both the Cherellian military, and sky pirates.
- In Moxie, airships are commonly found. On the opening page of Chapter One, Mari is scene riding in one. She later is seen at the docking bay when she arrives at Port City.
- The Spades create one of these in The Strongest Suit.
- Disney's TaleSpin is a notable example for the Cool Airship called the Iron Vulture used by the Air Pirates led by Don Karnage. Functions as a battleship and flying carrier in several episodes. Often has to be infiltrated by the heroes for one reason or another.
- The Dredgible in Drak Pack.
- The Excellsior of the "Skytanic" episode of Archer. The captain of which even constantly corrects Archer that "it's a rigid airship!"
- While the Excellsior advertises itself as the "pampered luxury of a cruise ship [meeting] the smoothness of modern air travel," the impracticality of airships is noted by Archer, who points out that they are only marginally faster than cruise ships, and far slower than airplanes.
- The Fire Nation Airships in Avatar: The Last Airbender, which can bombard enemy positions and even hurl bombs like missiles while defending themselves with conventional Firebending by the crews that pilot them. Also of note is the airship that serves as the personal flagship of Fire Lord Ozai in the Sozin's Comet finale, which is three times the size of a conventional airship and whose nose takes the form of an ornate golden phoenix while the rest have noses in the form of a dragon's head.
- In The Legend of Korra, airship travel has become commonplace with more modern versions serving as patrol vessels for the police forces of Republic City and as transports for Equalist forces in their fight against benders.
- By Book 3, Team Avatar travels around in their own airship, provided by Asami.
- The Idea Men from The Tick.
Tick: Cool! They got a blimp!
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have the Turtle Blimp.
- The airship in The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin.
- The Animated Kiss in Scooby-Doo! And KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery have one shaped like a guitar that can also travel through dimensions.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic airships are often seen in the possession of the very wealthy. One episode showed an airship used for a luxury cruise that operated very much the same way as modern luxury cruise ships of today.
- Care Bears & Cousins has the Cloud Clipper, a ship that literally flies through the skies and allows the cousins to carry out their job.
- The Hindenburg is an example. Stunningly luxurious, it was a massive commercial airship made for Trans-Atlantic voyages. It was-and remains to this day- the largest and most spacious aircraft ever built(the A deck alone had more floor space than an entire Airbus A380).The Hindenburg boasted a dining room served by four chefs from gourmet restaurants, a bar with a glass floor, promenades with huge tilted windows that could be opened in flight, staterooms reminiscent of the sleeping car on a luxury train, a double grand staircase, a smoking lounge inside its own airlock, a small library and writing room, a huge stylized mural of the world with moving ships and Zeppelins that tracked the journey of the airship, and even a piano lounge. It also carried unusual cargo, such as live animals, a luxury car and even Jimmy Haizlip's racing airplane. In 1936, it was the fastest and most comfortable way across the Atlantic, and was considered the airship to end all airships. Unfortunately, it was filled with extremely flammable Hydrogen instead of the inert Helium it was designed for (at the time, the US had a near-monopoly on the world's helium supply, and they weren't exactly inclined to sell to the Nazis). We all know how it ended.
- The Graf Zeppelin is the memetic god of this trope. Built in the late '20s, she was a prototype airship intended to train crews and test the viability of a transoceanic airliner, something that had never been built before. To illustrate her focus on prototyping rather than commercial operations, she carried a mere 20 passengers in Pullman-style luxury, contrasted with the crew of 40 or more. However, the Graf Zeppelin ended up going on spectacular adventures she had never been designed for; she circumnavigated the globe several times faster than the airplanes before her, she went on a journey to the North Pole, she explored remote and uncharted areas, she visited cities and monuments around the world, eventually she would settle into the first commercial transatlantic route, flying from Rio to Berlin. After more than a decade of service, she was the most successful Zeppelin of all time, flying more than a million miles and transporting tens of thousands of passengers in perfect safety, despite being filled with the hydrogen that doomed the Hindenburg.
- The US Navy operated six rigid-hulled airships, all but two of them were lost in a variety of accidents or bad weather. Three of the better known to this day are the USS Macon, USS Los Angeles and USS Akron, which were also Airborne Aircraft Carriers.
- While none of the rigid-hulled airships stayed in service long enough to serve in World War II, a wide variety of non-rigid blimps served in maritime patrol duties throughout the war, keeping an eye out for German U-Boats that preyed on Allied shipping. They were spectacularly successful, and had the best mission readiness of any air unit in the military at the time. A large part of what made them effective was the lack of German airpower in the Atlantic.
- In fact, in the modern day, airship-like balloons called aerostats are used as floating radar towers. Essentially a blimp without engines, they are tethered to the ground, allowed to rise up to about 15,000 feet above the ground, and scan for aircraft or ground vehicles for hundreds of miles in all directions. Unlike an Airborne Early Warning System plane, they don't need fuel or crew to stay aloft, so they are very cost effective as long as you don't need to move them.
- Modern hybrid airships being built, like the examples in the page description. These are just the tip of the iceberg, eventually the companies building them are going to scale up to large airships that will be used as cargo ships, cruise liners, firefighting ships, and long-endurance surveillance vessels.
- Some cool hybrid airships of note that are about to be flight tested from around 2013-2015 are the Lockheed-Martin "Skytug," which serves the same role "as a supersized cargo helicopter, but at a tenth the cost," the HAV "Airlander 50" cargo ship, the solar-powered "Solar Ship," and the "Aeroscraft" variable-buoyancy airship.
- The Norge. in 1926, it became the first ever aircraft of any kind to make the grueling, dangerous trek to the North Pole in an epic exploration of uncharted lands. The Norge itself was a relatively small semi-rigid airship, unlike the leviathan Graf Zeppelin which later explored the Arctic, which makes the feat even more impressive.
- The British R34, though fairly plain compared to some fictional examples and, going by accounts from its crew, somewhat unpleasant to live on, nonetheless deserves a mention here due to its place as one of the unsung heroes of aviation history. It was the first ever aircraft to fly east-to-west across the Atlantic, making it from East Fortune in Scotland to Mineola, Long Island after 108 hours of flying against the prevailing wind and putting up with a stowaway, terrible weather and troublesome engines.
- R34 was longer than a dreadnought battleship. Her unofficial name? "Tiny." She also had a resident tabby kitten named "Whoopsie" and the sailors liked playing jazz on the ship's gramophone. I wouldn't call her "fairly plain"!
- There used to be a Californian firm that owned an authentic Zeppelin and would allow its customers to pilot it (after some training, naturally.) Sadly, they've now gone out of business - their Zeppelin failed to secure an advertiser, their primary source of revenue. The airship is being shipped back to Germany. On the bright side, Goodyear is currently building three authentic Zeppelins of a similar type.
- Ron Paul, one of the 2012 candidates for the Republican nomination for the American presidency leased a Skyship 600 for his campaign, one of the largest, fastest, most luxurious blimps on the market. It is essentially the private jet of blimps, and definitely a Cool Airship.