Saturday, March 19, 2005

The World's LEAST Efficient Mode of Transportation

In the world of efficiency, let's hear a mumur of recognition for the least efficient.

While driving of the freeway past Carson, Califonrina, I saw the Goodyear Blimp on the downwind leg of the landing pattern.  "Oh," said I to the family, "Let's go see the Blimp land."  We took an off ramp, drove the surface streets to the Goodyear landing field, parked the car and walked to the fence.  By now the Blimp was turning base leg.

We had time to observe the crews' duty room.  There were six or eight husky crewmen inside playing cards, drinking coffee and relaxing.  The Blimp meanwhile turned onto the final leg toward the airfield.

As the Blimp passed over the airfield fence on final approach a laconic voice came over the loudspeaker:  "Air--ship".  The crew finished the card game, washed their coffee cups, and sauntered out to the center of the field in time to meet the Blimp, The Spirit of America, as it touched down.

Two husky crewmen grabbed ropes that dangled from the nose of the Blimp and others grabbed handrails on the side of the gondola.  The engines slowed to idle and the "Eagle" had landed.  Two or three passengers who were waiting mounted the gondola steps, and others dismounted, and some sand bags were passed from ground to airship.

Then the crewmen carried the gondola forward, and then on a signal from the pilots, grunted, "ah-one, ah-two, ah-THREE", and heaved the Blimp, gondola, and passengers into the air in a cordinated six-man shot put.  The engines roared and the Goodyear Blimp sped off at a breathtaking ten miles per hour.   

The Blimp is surely the least efficient form of transportation in use, but it probably the most charming.  It does something no other form of air transport does:  It goes slow.  It leisurely cruises over neigborhood, woods, and football stadium, a mere 1500 feet high at a pace at which air passengers can see what is going on upon the ground.  In fact, when the engines are throttled back, they can hear what is going on below, like dogs barking at the huge shadow that just darkened them at mid-day, children at play, or fans, such as I, cheering "Go, Goodyear Blimp." 



mavarin said...

Cool! - Karen

plieck30 said...

Never had the desire to ride in the Goodyear blimp but always enjoyed watching it when it came to San Antonio. Paula

valphish said...

What a charming story.  I like to keep my body on the ground :-). xox

sylviam4000 said...

First time I've heard of the Goodyear Blimp,  but it sounds like the mode of transport I've been searching for. Fed up with idiots, roadhogs and people with 4 wheel drives,  who think myself and my little Suzuki Swift should be courteous enough to leave the road for them! (ie: the nearest ditch!)
Sylvia x

cneinhorn said...

we see the blue cross blue shield blimp 'round these parts!


chasferris said...

ADDENDA:  if the blimp were really "lighter than air", which is what it is called, then we wouldn't be able to get it down.  It would float away, passengers and all. It is is actually, "same weight as air", and it's weight is controlled by the pilot who uses valves to add air under slight pressure to the huge cigar shaped "envelope" above him. The pressure allows the helium in the blimp to expand or contract and change the amount of lift the blimp has.  It is sort of a delicate dance from take off to landing. If you consided parallel parking the family Oldmobile difficult, think about parking a blimp as big as an apartment house and light as a feather.