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Apprentice contestant to offer Zeppelin trips above London

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Those seeking to relive the experience of World War I zeppelin crews mounting early bombing raids against London will soon be able to do so, according to reports.

Tourist airship flights over the capital are scheduled to begin in June, using vessels manufactured by the company which built the original zeppelins.

The Times reports today that Rory Laing, entrepreneur and former contestant on Alan Sugar fronted BBC biz-unreality show The Apprentice will operate the London gasbag concession. The ships will be supplied by Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, descendant of the original venture begun by Graf von Zeppelin more than a hundred years ago.

The UK authorities have granted the new-style Zeppelins clearance for flights over the capital. Today's Zeppelin-NT ships, rather than the massive hydrogen rigids of WWI and the 1930s, are semi-rigids - essentially blimps with some stiffening. Also, they are filled with helium rather than flammable/explosive hydrogen. Current NT semi-rigids can carry 12 passengers, and are intended mainly for sightseeing.

Thus far, the main place where zeppelin rides can be taken is the company HQ at Friedrichshafen. However, would-be commercial operators also plan to offer trips in Japan and San Francisco, as well as London.

Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik spokesman Dietmar Blasius told the Times:

"Passengers will have a fantastic view of London. They will be able to take in all the sites as it goes over the River Thames."

Having no doubt been pressed, he confirmed that "we could do some trips at night".®

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