So I resolved to do something special for Rachel's birthday this year. Last fall, a company moved into Moffett Field called Airship Ventures that does sightseeing trips around the Bay Area. Their prices are kinda steep, so we both put it out of our minds. However, it turns out that they have same-day seats available for a good deal, ever the bargain hunter, this seemed perfect.
So on Rachel's birthday, I called to see if they had any seats for that day. Turns out they were still in a maintenance period, but would be flying the following week. Well, I don't particularly have a good track record for being on time with gifts or cards or that sort of thing, so saying I'd have a late birthday surprise for Rachel didn't really phase her.
So the following week, I prepped Rachel that we might be going on a mysterious trip that afternoon. I called when they opened for tickets, they had some, we were in business. So that afternoon, I took Rachel over there and surprised her. Then about half an hour before we were scheduled to depart, we were informed that the winds were too high, and they couldn't get the Zeppelin out of the hanger. So we had to reschedule, which we did, for two weeks hence.
The next day that we were scheduled, I got a call a few hours ahead of time indicating that again, the winds were too high, and we'd have to reschedule. At this point, Rachel and I were getting a little down on airships. You see many works of fiction where there is lots of airship travel, please note that said universes, alternate realities, and potential futures must also be wind-free for such widespread airship usage.
So on the third booking (and really the staff was excellent about it each time), we actually got on a flight, and it was pretty awesome. We took an hour flight, which flew up north past Stanford and then looped back down to Moffett Field. There were eight passengers and two crew, and once we were above 1000 feet, we could move around the cabin at will, and (get this) open the window to take pictures. There are apparently only three of these Zeppelin NT airships in existence, and you have to go to Germany to learn how to fly one. That being said, it was a very modern aircraft, and Rachel and I wondered if it might be the youngest aircraft we had ever been in (the commercial jets we fly are getting a little long in the tooth).
The three images above are: (left) the Ames campus with our building (245) in the lower left, (center) the Google campus, and (right) the ground crew holding the airship's nose cable. I just couldn't resist the visual analogy to holding the string on a child's balloon.
We had an awesome time, and there isn't anywhere else in the country where you can fly in one, we highly recommend it.