Airship Ventures grounded by lack of funds

Samuel Coniglio says,

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Airship Ventures has stopped operations. I got to fly on it with my wife, and it was an amazing experience. It is one of only three working Zepplins in the world! There is still a chance to save the company, and hopefully some of you super geeks know some sugar daddy dot com zillionaire or corporate sponsor who could benefit by sponsoring them. There must be some kind of business model that could utilize an Airship's capabilities?

Here's an announcement from the company.

Here's an item in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Zeppelin company grounded by costs."


  1. I have to say that while I’m disappointed, I’m not particularly surprised.  Every few years someone decides that airships will be the saviour of modern transportation and some charismatic entrepreneur sells the idea to some investors as the greatest thing since the wheel.  And then they fail miserably because it’s a completely unsustainable idea.

    Then we wait a few years, and then someone else discovers airships and wonders why we don’t have any because they are the greatest thing since the wheel.  And round and round we go.It’s too bad because, you know, ZEPPELINS!!! But unless there is a radical change in demand or a radical change in the cost of running an airship, they’re doomed.

    1. This wasn’t going to be a savior of modern transportation — just a luxury sight-seeing vessel.  But the costs are brutal.  Hydrogen already!

      I didn’t hold out much hope of ever getting a ride, but I did love to look out my window and watch it lazily tooling around the bay.  It made me feel like I really was living in the 21st Century.

      1. Yeah.  I was out bicycling in the marshland behind Shoreline one day, and turned around and saw the Zeppelin taking off, probably about a week after it first started service, and I’ve frequently seen it flying around when I’m on my way to or from work or driving up to San Francisco.  I stopped and watched a landing just a couple of weeks ago.

        And in spite of all the economic chaos we’ve had the last few years, it’s been cheerful to know that things can’t have gone totally down the tubes if we can still afford to have something as silly and wonderful as Zeppelins flying around.  I’ll miss it.

    2. There is a video somewhere from a Melbourne news crew who were filming from an airship when the weather suddenly got bad. It goes for an hour and basically shows the vehicle being tossed around like a coke bottle in white water rapids. I have my doubts about attaching myself to a huge body of buoyant air. Sometimes the air really moves around.

    3. Living in the Bay Area years ago, I wish I had a nickle for every time someone noticed the big hangars at Moffett field and had the brilliant idea of starting luxury Zepplin tours.  Well, give these people credit for actually trying it instead of talking about it.

    4. I thought the same thing. Elon Musk’s recent comments about high-speed rail were the same. “Why don’t we use an evacuated tube with pods travelling at 500 miles an hour?” Because the idea is 100 years old, and it hasn’t worked yet. Same goes for maglev. Fine, keep trying as tech and materials evolve, but don’t claim that current (as in state of the art) tech is “sooo 20th century”.

  2. Oh no, I’ve always wanted to fly on an airship.

    Perhaps passenger operations aren’t viable, but they would make a superb platform for geophysical studies, being steady, slow and having extreme endurance.

    And if they need someone to hold the aerial – I am so available.

  3. The key issue is surely the one buried away in the San Francisco Chronicle piece – a tenfold increase in helium prices as world supplies diminish. And since it can’t currently be synthesised on an industrial scale prices don’t seem likely to fall any time soon.

        1.  And that most passengers on the Hindernburg survived the accident — you can’t say that of most airplane crash.

        2. People tend to forget that the Hindenburg’s predecessor, the Graf Zeppelin, flew over a million miles without mishap.

          “Oh, the mundanity!!”

    1.  Coincidentally, a ten-fold increase in helium prices after Red Bull used 30 million cubic feet of it for a publicity stunt that the media fell all over themselves covering, with very little discussion about the wisdom of using so much of an irreplaceable element mostly to break an existing free-fall record.

  4. that sucks!

    I wonder if it could work being based at a world destination- NYC, Paris, Grand Canyon… instead of a travelling road show.
    This way they don’t need to transport the mast and ground support. 

    1. San Francisco is a world destination.  But there’s only so much market here.  They also took it to LA, and a few other places.

  5. Paint it steam-punk and make it a flying nightclub or build one big enough to make it a flying cruise ship for transatlantic journeys.

    Or just stick websites and cheap graphics on it and drive it to bankruptcy…..   The world needs more imagination.

    1. Actually, that’s a pretty brilliant idea.  Why not start a kickstarter campaign to turn it into a Steampunk toy for the next Burning Man?  How much would it cost to buy the thing?

  6. VC-funded airships seem to have trouble more often than not, unfortunately. A decade ago, a german company that wanted to build a heavy-lift airship, called Cargolifter, folded. With them they took 300 million euros (~400 million today’s $) and left nothing but a giant hangar in eastern germany. See: . I especially like the sentence:
    “Despite the setback, an agreement was reached with Boeing in 2002 for the joint study of a lighter-than-air stratospheric platform.”
    Lighter. Than. Air. Stratospheric. Platform.

  7. If you can’t find a supervillain with cash to burn in Silicon Valley then you’re probably just not looking hard enough. (View to a Kill, anyone?)

    1. The airships used that movie were made by a company in my home town of Bedford. They were based in the Cardington hangars, and used to come up over the town, over our garden.

  8. My father and I took a flight a year ago over San Francisco and it was incredible.

    When the guide mentioned that Amelia Earhart had taken off from the terminal on her final flight the woman in front of us said that she was there that day and that she had also seen Lindbergh there as well (Oakland Airport), she was a fan of flight from way back and as we flew over Treasure Island she talked about remembering the Worlds Fair being built and the China Clippers flying!

    The flight itself was very smooth and slow… I spent a lot of time with my head hanging out the window as I knew I could never look a dog in the eye again if I missed this opportunity!

    As we landed a YAK 11 took off underneath us – it was a day of juxtapositions – flying in a German airship over what was a WWII US airbase watching a Soviet aircraft taking off while talking with a fellow  passenger who had been around since Lindbergh was making history.

    I hope they can find the funding to keep going – it would be a great place to watch the America’s Cup.

    1. The flight itself was very smooth and slow… I spent a lot of time with my head hanging out the window as I knew I could never look a dog in the eye again if I missed this opportunity!

      Particularly if it was one of those dogs from Up.

    1. Cory traditionally uses hot air balloons.  Plenty of them around, and balloon festivals in places like Albuquerque and Dresden.

  9. Oh no!  I rode on their zeppelin a couple of years ago and really, really enjoyed it.  I wished I could have afforded a longer ride, but it was quite expensive.  That said, for me anyway it was worth every penny.  I hope they get this figured out.  

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