Wednesday, June 20, 2007

=FUTURE>FLIGHT - an airship story - Part 3

The time has come for the third installment of =Future>Flight. Paul Boldt sent us the next part of his story, if you have missed the previous episodes read them here:
=FUTURE>FLIGHT - an airship story - Part 1
=FUTURE>FLIGHT - an airship story - Part 2


Installment Three: From Shore to Ship.

Helicopter (let alone airship?) rides don’t agree at all with my stomach, so I popped a Dramamine as I was downloading the info on my watch previously. Now, as I exited to the top floor for the helipad, I walked down the hall to one of the kiosks and putting my wrist under the reader I let it scan the info from my watch. The video monitor identified the attendant on the other side of the screen as Trulee from Guam. “How are you doing your afternoon, Mr. Arday?” her voice slightly rolling the r in my name. Her software enhanced makeup keep changing the colors of the eye shadow around her eyes, giving a slightly hypnotic attention draw to her beautiful blues. “I’ve had better days, Trulee”. “Sorry to hear that Mr. Arday, I see that you don’t have any special dietary needs for the upcoming airship flight to the Bahamas, has that changed? “No”. Do you have any special requests or travel arrangements you’d like me to book for you, Sir?”, “No, not right now, thanks”. “Well, have a great flight on board the Stratus, and please watch the virtual attendant presentation that I’ve just downloaded to your infoband within the next hour. Thank you Mr. Arday, bye, bye”. And she was gone with a wink of an eye.

Looking out toward the helicopter my intestines started to knot. As I walked toward the thing with five little popsickle sticks that rotated around at high speeds hopefully to fly us from high on top the rooftop to on top of a moving vehicle floating around the skies. Luckily, I was moving to the middle of the roof and not towards the edge.

I slide into the furthest seat in the back the hell-copter, one without a direct window view. I slipped on my virtual visor and settled back and watched the mandatory safety viewing that you either have to be there in person aboard the airline to watch, i.e. this is a safety buckle latch (like a seat belt at an impact at 400+ mph on a jet airline is supposed to save you, or your air masks will fall out of the ceiling (like that is going to happen when all the electronics are on fire in the cockpit).

At least I never saw this presentation, as it was to be my first airship ride. The presentation was introduced by an animatronic (cg robot) who the company lovingly named Sao Elmo, which could speak any language on the planet, I switched on Afrikans just to see if sounded like Dutch, it did. I switched the program back to English. Elmo reinstated the fact that I knew, that these airships flew with helium as opposed to hydrogen (which didn’t help the Hindenburg, except with better lift). The presentation first showed the whole airship model being rotated 360 degrees, showing its sleek design, the robot giving the virtual tour first showed which was the front of the airship and then what the rear looked like.

Zoom views gave the major entrances, and the program even gave me a personalized viewing of the entrance I’d be going into, the helipad which was on top of the airship less than a third of the way back from the bow of the airship. Elmo explained how the airship would be slowing slightly to create less turbulence. The virtual helicopter aligned and touched the landing pad, and was instantly electromagnetically secured. Bay doors opened up and swallowed the 20 person helicopter that always rode piggyback throughout all the flights, picking up and dropping off innermedairies.

After the helicopter was lowered down into the bay, the bay doors would close, making the airship streamlined again, then we could get out. We would then travel down on a 25 degree slope on a transport trolley to the passenger level. Elmo showed me all the way to the single cab room I’d be riding in, even though my watch could also guide me to the room after I actually arrived. Impressively, all the sleeping cabins had windows. I felt the actual helicopter that I was now actually flying in lurch into the air off of the rooftop out across the city below. Errgh.

My presentation went on about how safe these new airships are and gave info on evacuation into the parachuting life pods at the bottom of the ship, that were life boats that could seat 30 people in each, and would float on water, and even had emergency supplies and water. The mandatory portion for viewing was completed. I started to view the rest of the infosite.

(Next Installment to follow: IV Renaissance)