I want to take to the skies in a Zeppelin…

The other day, driving about in the neighbourhood of Cardington in Bedfordshire, we came across two huge hangars in a field. My fellow-traveller, knowledgeable in such matters, was aware of its history as an airship base.

Find out more about Cardington here >>

And, unbelievably, airships are still flying from Cardington. Big, cigar-shaped, Zeppelin-type airships (with the obvious safety problems overcome) flown by a female pilot named Katharine Board who reportedly got into this line of work because she found planes a bit too boring and predictable.

Read an interview with Katharine in Bedfordshire Today >>

I cannot express how glamorous and wonderful this sounds, or how much I want to go on an airship flight.

I’m pretty frightened of flying in planes although, in the past, I have generally overcome this fear for long enough to climb aboard a large commercial airliner. Small aircraft I avoid like the plague.

But the thing I really resent about commercial aviation is how something that was once an exciting, glamorous, luxury activity has been turned into a means of transport so unpleasant as to be effectively unusable.

And that’s without the addition of security measures that would defy the imagination of George Orwell.

Fingerprinting of passengers, the liquids ban, confiscation of laptops, scanners that publicly present images of their subjects as naked, a new project being trialled in America that claims to ‘read the minds’ of the people that pass through it, converting emotional cues into metrics.

How is that one going to deal with the symptoms of the fear of flying? Will it turn good old-fashioned terror into a terrorist offence?

It was once said of British Rail that its workers considered the organisation as a giant civil engineering exercise in which the passengers were nothing more than an annoyance.

How true this is this of modern airlines (with the proviso that the words “civil engineering” are replaced with “money-making”).

So, not wanting to collaborate in my own gross discomfort, loss of dignity and the abuse of my civil liberties, and pay for the privilege of so doing, I thought that I would be taking the Eurostar from now on if I wanted to travel to the continent.

But it appears that I must reconsider this view.

If I can come up with a sum slightly in excess of £5,000 I can cruise to The Netherlands in the passenger compartment of an airship for a five-day tour – a journey that does not present me with the same philosophical problems as aircraft, as I can see very well what holds an airship up.

That sounds to me like my fears overcome and the magic of aviation restored.

Worth every penny of five thousand quid.

Read the operator’s brochure on the Scribd site >>