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SÜDKURIER (Germany), AIR PARIS (France)

Worldcrunch

PARIS - The first time zeppelins flew over Paris, it was to bomb the city during World War I. Now, a German zeppelin company says it is nearing agreement with a company in Paris that plans to offer flights around the Eiffel Tower.

The company, Air Paris, already has a website showing the zeppelin over Paris. According to the south German newspaper Südkurier, the builder of the blimp-like craft would lease the first zeppelin by 2013 to the French company, and Air Paris’s own zeppelin would be finished by 2014.

French air authorities have not yet given the necessary permission, says Südkurier. However, the Air Paris website says it will “soon” allow visitors to book zeppelin tours starting in July 2013.

The zeppelins will fly 300 meters above Paris and Versailles, in cabins with “large panoramic windows.” The flights will not be cheap, 450 euros per person. According to the company, there will be little disturbance from the balloon, whose noise is comparable to that of “a dishwasher.”

In the early 20th century, zeppelins filled with hydrogen were popular for travel, as their cabins, attached below the balloon, were larger and more comfortable than those of the airplanes of the time. But after the live transmission on the radio and newsreels of the accident of the transatlantic Hindenburg expand=1] airship, which killed 36 people in a spectacular blaze in 1937, such airships fell out of style.

The Friedrichshafen zeppelin manufacturer, a descendant of the original company, was founded in 1993. Modern zeppelins are now filled with helium, which is an inert, almost non-flammable gas, not the hydrogen that caused the Hindenburg fire.

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