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The only way to travel: by blimp castle.
While airships in general are cool, the Cool Airship
turns this Up to Eleven
. 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
, 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 the 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*
. It goes without saying that they are usually commanded by a Bad Ass
of some sort.
Unfortunately, with the destruction of the Hindenburg
in 1937, airships mostly died 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
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
A Cool Airship in fantasy or steampunk will often fall under Artistic License – Engineering
, especially when it's not modeled after real-world zeppelins; things like having one or two tiny propellers or tiny decorative wings as the only source of lift are not uncommon. Of course, sometimes it's just magic
of Cool Ship
, and so a Sister Trope
of Cool Boat
and Cool Plane
. Related to the Square/Cube Law
, Hollywood Density
, 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!
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- 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 swivleing turrets for their mounted canons, Reaperbot repelling lines, and an entertainment system for Rabixtriel...
- 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.
- 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 which 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.
- The titular school in Sky High levitates, and constantly moves around to keep villains form 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 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 one in The Last Crusade.
- Made all the cooler because it's a REAL Cool Airship, the Hindenburg.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 (for better or worse being 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.
- The Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock has one.
- 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.
- The Shengdi from the manhua series Bloodline, have these that act as their mobile bases of operations.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Kirov airship from the Red Alert series, sporting shark-decals and dropping extremely devastating bombs on the enemy.
- 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, and is capable of space flight, and serves as much more so the 'cool' ship of the game.
- 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).
- 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 new 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 is in the final battle with Deathwing, chasing him when he flees to the Maelstrom. It gets shot down and crashes onto the Wandering Isle, bringing the peaceful Pandaren race into the Alliance/Horde war.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Meiers 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.
- The First Lady of Bioshock Infinite is an example. It 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.
- On the other hand, there is also Comstock's ship itself, the Hand of The Prophet, a gigantic battleship. In fact most ships in the game could count.
- 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 Eleven 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.
- The Pokémon Peace Squad series has had several of them. There's the Highwind, the Hunter Carrier, the Hunter Carrier II, the Rocket Mega Fortress, and also the Rocket Megaship.
- However, the most unusual of them all is the Flora Carrier in Chaos Adventure, which contains biosphere-like environments and hydroponic forests and jungles. One area even holds a massive tree containing its own maze-like forest!
- In Trinity, Team Rocket has a handful of high-tech airships that were used to transport Pokémon taken from Ghetsis in the form of missiles containing the Pokémon as data! In Infinity, there is the Rocket Gigaplane, which has a reactor core consisting of a floating laser-firing crystal held in place by gyro rings!
- There's also been the XD 001 Carrier from 1, the Stealth Carrier and Hunter Hydroplane from 2, the Flora Dirigible from Trinity, and even the Aerial Carrier from Endless Boundaries!
- 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 the arcade shooter Carn Evil 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 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. 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 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.