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Old Sep 16, 2014, 03:42 PM
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Ed, are you building those large blimps yourself or is your business mainly just flying them? With the games, does the video taken by the blimp actually get used as some of the broadcast footage seen on TV?
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Old Sep 17, 2014, 12:10 PM
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North Richland Hills, Texas USA
Joined Aug 2000
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My contract is to provide flight crew and support for the vehicle. I have a firm create the vehicles from data provided by the client and my crews on what they would like to see. We document everything then forward to Mobile Airships of Canada for a work up and bid process for each vehicle. I call the shoots on the equipment utilized and how we want the vehicles to fly. It seems everyone has an idea of how a ship should fly and be controlled. My crewmembers are all long time model pilots so all the vehicles are set up so any of the group can fly any of the vehicles working. Normal set up is mode 2 with throttle left. On the Cowboy airship aerodynamics (rudder and elevator)are on the right stick with tail rotor seperate on the left stick with the throttle. Thruster pitch control is linked to the elevator stick. On an aerodyne vehicles (no aerodynamics) pitch rotates the thrusters up and down plus the tail rotor controls direction also from right stick. Coupons are normally dropped either by rudder stick movement or the 5th channel switch. I have seen every combination of controls but found this is a more natural set up for a full size or model pilot flying fixed wing or rotored vehicles in the states.

Yes the video taken is normally feed to the broadcast booth and used on the Jumbo tron or broadcast as needed. Very close coordination between the director from the booth and the camera operator alongside the pilot. Pilot normally is linked to ground crew with operator linked directly to broadcast booth. Operator feeds direction and information to pilot as far as where to go and what to do. Hostler on floor is also feeding information to the pilot as needed from the floor boss who is coordinating the effort from the event level. Really gets very hectic if someone misses his scrip call as everything is timed to the second in most cases.

ed
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Old Sep 18, 2014, 04:31 AM
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Spain, Community of Madrid, Madrid
Joined Dec 2013
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Hi!
Have you experienced glitching with the video link? Analog links often have this problem at indoor arenas.
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Old Sep 18, 2014, 06:41 PM
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North Richland Hills, Texas USA
Joined Aug 2000
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At present it has never been an issue. We fly on 72 megs due to the extreme number of items on 2.4. Everything in the building is on 2.4 and they thought we could cause a problem intefering with their registers, computers etc. Used spec analyer (sp) to verify all except one channel on our normal flight band was clear. We also check it each season just to see if something has slipped in. Its a pain in the ass but its their call. We do what the man says.

We recently run into a problem of a frequency overlap with the onboard video and transmitter. Seems they went out and picked up a second unit for another on ground commerical and did not realize until game time two weeks ago the one interferred with the other. At that time there was no switch in the power line and putting the battery in its rack powered the system up. The flight crew got a frantic call from the director to shut the video off. Guess what, no can do when its 40 foot in the air on the other side of the stadium. Blew that spot right to hell. I had the gondola at the house doing some work on it and went ahead and put an electronic switch in the 12 volt power line. Didn't work at first until I realized it would not work until the radio in the vehicle and the transmitter on the bottom of the gondola had a common ground. When I run a single 24 gauge wire from a small Y cable to the negative bus on the video transmitter tray and hooked the switch in the other connector on the Y to channel five on the transmitter all works as advertised. Did not make a lot of sense at first but I run across same problem a few months back with a Fat Shark FPV camera. Live and learn.

Little brother started flying for me recently and we will do his first public debate tomorrow evening at the College Park Center of UTA. He has always been a great help to me working the vehicles but never really wanted to fly much. Decided this season it was time to get in the pilots rotation. I taught him to fly back in early 60's rudder only on escapements and single channel. Nows at 64 he has decided to go pro and I'm glad to have him. Venue is small with a couple hundred folks there for a volleyball game. Nothing hanging from the ceiling to get in trouble so it should be an easy night. Yeah I know, Murphy is alive and well when flying balloons. ed
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Old Sep 19, 2014, 10:02 PM
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Little brother did good. Managed three flights and did not tear up machine or kill anybody. Wide open venue without obstructions. Needs a few more games to get comfortable in arena. As you see not a big crowd to work over but thats for the better to start. Working large crowds are a bitch if not yet comfortable with the machine.
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Old Sep 20, 2014, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Couch View Post
My contract is to provide flight crew and support for the vehicle. I have a firm create the vehicles from data provided by the client and my crews on what they would like to see. We document everything then forward to Mobile Airships of Canada for a work up and bid process for each vehicle. I call the shoots on the equipment utilized and how we want the vehicles to fly. It seems everyone has an idea of how a ship should fly and be controlled. My crewmembers are all long time model pilots so all the vehicles are set up so any of the group can fly any of the vehicles working. Normal set up is mode 2 with throttle left. On the Cowboy airship aerodynamics (rudder and elevator)are on the right stick with tail rotor seperate on the left stick with the throttle. Thruster pitch control is linked to the elevator stick. On an aerodyne vehicles (no aerodynamics) pitch rotates the thrusters up and down plus the tail rotor controls direction also from right stick. Coupons are normally dropped either by rudder stick movement or the 5th channel switch. I have seen every combination of controls but found this is a more natural set up for a full size or model pilot flying fixed wing or rotored vehicles in the states.

Yes the video taken is normally feed to the broadcast booth and used on the Jumbo tron or broadcast as needed. Very close coordination between the director from the booth and the camera operator alongside the pilot. Pilot normally is linked to ground crew with operator linked directly to broadcast booth. Operator feeds direction and information to pilot as far as where to go and what to do. Hostler on floor is also feeding information to the pilot as needed from the floor boss who is coordinating the effort from the event level. Really gets very hectic if someone misses his scrip call as everything is timed to the second in most cases.

ed
Wow, that's really a lot more involved than I thought it was. I always imagined just one guy standing around with a transmitter, with the blimp only being used for advertising.
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Old Sep 20, 2014, 09:22 PM
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We fly up to three ships at once for the Dallas Stars and you could say that gets exciting. All three ships are released within 20 seconds, fly the routine, all have camera calls on the Jumbotrone within about three minutes so all have to be in position around the arena for best shots releasing coupons. They then head back up to their births on the ceiling of the arena where they are captured by a spotlight team that helps us out, docks the ships and turns off the power. All three ships can be captured and shut down within about two minutes if needed. For a hockey game the ships are flown pregame for about twenty minutes and at period breaks are flown for about 12 minutes of the 18 minute period break. We always head to the ceiling when the countdown clock hits the 8 minute marks so we still have 5 minutes to play with if a problem occurs. For three ships we use a four man crew with three operators and one hostler in case of a problem. Two spotlight crew work the cat walks to dock and undock the vehicles. Ships have to fit within a box of 9 foot wide by 18/20 foot long. This is the distance within the ceiling girders. We use a similar setup at Cedar Park Arena just north of Austin and it has always worked very well. You can see the operation of release and recovery on a couple of videos at edzepplin.com if interested. In a small venue most time it is a single operator plus a hostler. In Randy's case, one of the students at the college and his wife helps as well. She has worked the Cowboy venue with me a number of times and is a very good hand with the vehicles. Genie is a character and loves the games whether its hockey, football, basketball she has a good time. ed
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Old Sep 21, 2014, 10:57 AM
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An interesting observation that highlights the effectiveness of blimp advertising: Try to think of the last billboard, TV commercial or magazine ad you saw and remember what was being advertised. Chances are you can't remember. Now think of the last blimp you saw and try to remember what it was advertising. Usually people can remember every single time. Blimps seem to create an image in your head that can be easily recalled, which is something most traditional forms of advertising can't do, with the exception of high budget TV commercials that are either funny or memorable in some other way.
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Old Sep 21, 2014, 09:34 PM
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I agree, noticed that over 18 years ago and was able to capitilize on that thought. At this time I do not go after RV, auto, or boat shows like I used to but there is a lot of work out of the sports venues if one is interested. Just have to follow up with the personal touch and have a gift for gab. You are selling yourself to a client as well as the idea of using the airship as a advertising item. You won't get rich but it helps buy new toys to play with without using household funds and taking something away from the wife and kids. The work is fun, pays well at least for me. I am lucky to have other incomes available so I don't fly as much as I used to. I pay my folks very well and make a little for myself. I always grin when I tell people I fly toy balloons for a living and I honestly can do it with a straight face if I have to. Takes some people aback until they realize that someone is really paid to do the work.

Years back Marcus met me at a baseball game in Ft Worth Texas to see what we were doing. It was fun for us both and he is always welcome back anytime we have a gig lined up to come and play. Good folks.
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Old Sep 28, 2014, 03:03 PM
Marcus Franco
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Bayer in Sao Paulo, Brazil done by BlimpShow & Baiuca Sports...
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Old Sep 29, 2014, 01:45 PM
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North Richland Hills, Texas USA
Joined Aug 2000
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Need Operator in Austin and Cedar Park Texas

Gentlemen

I may be of need of an operator or two in the greater Austin and Cedar Park area. One could possibly be a forty plus game gig and another flying for a schools mens and womens basketball games. Normally that is only 18 or 20 games. If anyone is interested I will probably spend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Cedar Park for the Stars startup to season this weekend with four other games scheduled for the remainder of month. Pays good and insurance coverage is excellent. Contact me offline at 817 228 9529 or email at edecouch@aol.com.

This is a little tenative and may not occur but we have ot be prepared. If interested let me know.

ed
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Old Sep 29, 2014, 06:58 PM
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Very interesting read. I see lots has changed since I did blimp piloting. Still proud of my accomplishments. I flew custom shapes for San Jose Sharks and Dixie Chicks and standard 17' blimp for the Warriors basketball team. In all 13 years of blimp flying in sports arenas. The Dixie Chicks gig was 83 different locations in 8 months.
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