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Old Aug 27, 2012, 08:52 PM
Ed Couch is offline
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North Richland Hills, Texas USA
Joined Aug 2000
1,913 Posts
It took over 15 months from the initial contact and discussion until first flight (they contacted me). Presently I have under contract the Dallas Stars hockey club for two ships this season. The Dallas Mavericks for one ship. University of Texas at Arlington for one vehicle and University of Texas in Austin for a single ship. Baylor University in Waco for a single ship, The Cedar Park Stars (hockey) again a single ship. In addition to those listed above North Texas State University in Denton has asked for help along with Texas A & M in College Station are looking at our services and a new Rudy's BBQ bottle airship. I make no attempt to sell a product except I supply the flight crews and do all maintenance for up to 45 games per team a year. I am paid a set fee for the service and pay my pilots and hostlers well enough that they have fun and enjoy the experience. I look for solid stable flyers that will fly exactly as I lay things out. They are taught to leave their ego at the door. Publications are developed for flight and inspection and are followed to a fault. Everyone of the pilots follow the same format and all ships are set up exactly the same way. At times there may be three airships in the air at the same time 3 times a night for a hockey game and twice a night for basketball and football games. I carry sufficient insurance to cover the liability required by law, workmans comp and special vehicle insurance to support our efforts. I work closely with both the teams and the advertising client to do what they want to see if its only one circle around the arena and land. It is their call and that is what they pay for. For a game such as the Cowboys we arrive six hours early make a number of test flights and do several rehersals before we toe the mark for the first flight. We work off a directors call if they want to use the vehicle for close up personal work or lock the camera nose down and fly slowly over the crowd. It takes nerve and an understanding of your aircraft before you venture out over 65 thousand plus fans but mostly its experience of many many hours of flight. At present I have eight pilots and four hostlers who work as a crew to make things happen. A three ship crew consist of 3 pilots and 1 hostler. For the Cowboys we utilize two ground crewmembers and the pilot and his gunner (aka camera operator) who has a 17 inch monitor who helps the assigned pilot navigate the arena. He also handles the coupon release mechanism during the flight to allow the pilot to do his duty of maintaining a safe flight enviorment. We make every attemp to maintain at least a 20 diameter bubble around the airship from the crowd at all times in all of our venues. Have I had failures, yes these are mechanical devices and they will fail. I've been lucky that no one has ever been hurt in any way during our flights. Another thing is that you must be able to sell yourself to the team and client. Act like a smartass a couple of times and you set home on your butt instead of enjoying the benefits of doing this job. Am I lucky you damn right I am. I retired as an engineer of over 40 years with Lockheed Martin and Vought Aircraft when I turned 60 and the next morning was at the Texas State Fair flying for hire. Its works for me but I set on the field the other day laughing with a friend watching the Dallas Cheerleaders listening to a Big and Rich concert and getting paid very well for the evening. How silly can you get when your day job is flying a big toy balloon around and they actually pay you to do it. The tron gods have been kind. You can see some of our other airships at http://edzepplin.com/ . ed
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Last edited by Ed Couch; Aug 27, 2012 at 09:03 PM.
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