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First flight of new Zeppelin airship completed
Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co. KG and Airship Ventures today announced the successful first flight of the fourth, and latest, Zeppelin NT airship over Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Construction of the fourth Zeppelin NT airship having recently been completed, the ship was handed over to the flight test department to begin the testing phase. The hangar doors opened and the airship left the 360 foot long hangar for the first time since the start of airframe assembly in March 2007.

Robert Gritzbach, Zeppelin VP of engineering, commented: "After the prototype being the third ship in our series production, we were able to incorporate a number of design improvements – reducing weight while increasing lift and achieving a near doubling of airframe lifetime – that make this our finest ship to date!" A proud and long awaited moment for all involved, it is a special moment when a new airship exits the hangar for the first time.

Alex Hall, Airship Ventures CEO, remarked "What an incredible process we have witnessed over this past year – the assembly of the frame, fitting out of the gondola, helium being put into the envelope, the first start up of the engines, and now the maiden flight."

The engines having been started one by one, the airship was released from the mast truck, and right away started for the sky. Taking off nearly vertically, the ship proceeded to the calm air over Lake Constance to head right into her initial flight tests.

The first pilot to fly the airship, Fritz G√ľnther, Zeppelin Flight Operations Manager and the first pilot to fly the new airship said "This is the 3rd Zeppelin for which I have been part of the maiden flight, and feeling of pride in knowing all our hard work has resulted in success never diminishes. As a pilot, I look forward to confirming the new performance characteristics." In the meantime, two pilots of Airship Ventures have arrived in Germany and are training with their new ship.

Starting it's long journey, on one side the airship carries the logo of the local brewery Leibinger, partner with Zeppelin group offering special "Zeppelin Beer". On the other side, the Airship Ventures logo and "Going Places" branding evokes images of flightseeing trips to come – iconic locations of California including San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, Moffett Field, Treasure Island, Hollywood and Yosemite.

Last week, Airship Ventures had announced successful completion of an $8 million Series A Preferred Stock financing, which has allowed the company to finalize preparations for commencement of operations in the US this fall.

Contact details from our directory:
ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co. KG Airframer
Related aircraft programs:
Zeppelin NT