Happy New Year all!
We left off where the amazing flying machine known as the Pink Floyd Airship had been created and started its maiden voyage across the country.
As I mentioned, we wanted the first part of the airship program to be a teaser campaign.
Of course, wherever it flew and landed on its way across country it started a stir in the local press and on television—nothing like it had ever been created and flown before. For the initial flight we only put the band’s name on it. So when people initially saw it they did a double take and then wondered what kind of flying machine this thing was, had Pink Floyd sent it, and what was it doing here?? The pilots were instructed not to say anything to the media. We gave them a card to silently hand out to anyone that was asking questions. The card read:
DO NOT BE ALARMED. YOU HAVE SPOTTED THE PINK FLOYD AIRSHIP. THE PINK FLOYD AIRSHIP IS HEADED TOWARDS A DESTINATION WHERE ALL WILL BE EXPLAINED UPON ARRIVAL. PINK FLOYD WILL COMMUNICATE!
The idea was to get this giant, psychedelic blimp to Los Angeles in time for a press conference where the new album, “The Division Bell,” and tour would be announced. Sounds easy yes? Not really. It turned out that blimps only fly at roughly 30 miles an hour and that weather had to be decent for them to fly at all.
Just when we thought we’d had everything sussed, we found out that NO AIRSHIP had ever flown from the east coast to the west coast successfully in the winter before because of the prevailing jet stream and winter storms!! In fact, the last person to try was Howard Hughes himself. On his unsuccessful try, he crashed his airship in an ice storm in Texas and never made it to the west coast.
But we also discovered that airship pilots and personnel are a tough breed—have the “right stuff,” if you will. In fact, there is a whole airship culture that we were soon to find out about. These guys loved Pink Floyd and were also bent on making history. They promised to have the airship in Los Angeles at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on time in February for the very trippy and far out press conference we were planning.
That initial voyage is now legendary. First off, by complete coincidence it flew over the house of one of the major promoters for the tour. The guy lived in Atlanta and just happened to be outside when it flew over—it blew his f*cking mind!
As it did to most anyone who saw it. Simply put, there had never been a 200 foot psychedelic blimp flying around anywhere in the world before! It had kind of had that “Yellow Submarine” mystery about it—a magical craft that everyone wished they could have a ride in.
But, back to the pilots and their daredevil attitude, for a second. These guys would tell us stories about their greatest airship adventures. The thing about a blimp is, not only does it fly straight, but it can stop in mid-air and just hang there (like Superman), and can also climb and drop pretty much in a vertical line.
So, one of the pilots tells a story about how he once lowered himself in one of these giant airships into a huge crater somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico. He said, he did it at night, by the light of a full moon. Set it down some 500 feet to the floor of the crater. Wow, just the thought of that gave us Goosebumps.
And, our fearless heroes did deliver the craft on time to LA, but just barely. One of the engines (the gondola has two big Porsche engines, one on either side), broke down in Arizona and parts had to be flown in to fix it. But, they made it—first time ever in winter, and that flight is now in the airship history books and logs.
Next time: The absolute most creative, surprising, and stunning press conferences ever in the history of rock!
Once again, happy New Year, and thanks for reading~
© Paul Rappaport 2014