DTO: Daily Blimpismo: 1987 Colt AS-56 Thermal Airship

Ever found yourself stuck in miserable gridlocked traffic and looked up at all that empty sky and thought…what a waste!  We are years away from the Fifth Element style hovering/flying taxicabs (the dystopian city on the other hand…that is closer), but what if there was a better way, a way to move around that pre-dates the automobile.  We are talking about the flying machine as first flown by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes in 1782.  They go by all sorts of fancy names– blimps, zeppelins, dirigibles, thermal airships…but I’d just call them freedom.  Find this 1987 Colt AS-56 Thermal Airship offered for $85,000 buy-it-now on eBay, located in Tuscon, AZ with 17 days to go.

Eighty-five large will buy you all kinds of brand new Mercedes-Benz executive class machines, but none of them will transport you effortlessly in low wind conditions like a blimp (okay, I know, technically this is not a blimp and is technically a hot-air airship, but I am going to call it a blimp because I like writing blimp…blimp).  One thing to consider when buying a blimp is that you must have a balloon operators FAA certification, which is around 24 hours of flying time and takes at least a year.  However, the seller of this blimp is offering to teach anyone to fly this thing on a private polo field which he says will take about 10 days.  I cannot imagine what you would be doing after the 3rd or 4th hour of flying around a polo-field (probably tethered), much less on the 9th day…but I really want to find out…

Like all blimps, this thing needs a powered fan to fly around, unless you want to end up on the Land of Oz.  Power comes from a 24 horsepower 3 cylinder 2 stroke German built Konig radial engine that spins a 52-inch pusher prop.  Please keep your pony tail tucked into your leather jacket at all times.  The nice thing about a hot air balloon is that if the engine pukes its guts at elevation you have plenty of time to come to say a few acts of contrition before you splash down in a cactus patch, abandoned minefield or snake farm.

The best part about blimping has to be the sense of fun associated with having your tender bits sitting on top of a gas filled bomb.  Not only will you need to keep a close eye on your hot air supply to the ballon, but you’ll also need to control the fan and however this thing steers…but it is good for a top speed of 20 knots with an estimated flight duration of 90 minutes.  This will work great for a commuter as long as your commute is less than 17 miles each way (unless you can refuel at work…then range is 35 miles.)

See a better way to spend some of your hard earned cash to master the float? tips@dailyturismo.com