With over twenty-years in lighter-than-air John and Ute Christopher have a broad base of practical flying and operational experience.
John’s involvement with airships began in 1984 with a ride in the Goodyear blimp Europa, and since then he has been chasing the airship dream all over the world. In addition to writing about them, he has flown in most modern helium types including the Zeppelin NT, Airship Industries’ Skyships 500 & 600, the German-built WDL-1B, T&C’s two-man GA-42, and more ABC Lightships than you can shake a stick at. Then there are the hot-air airships including T&C, Camerons and the massive raft-carrying Lindstrand AS300 intended for rainforest research, as well as a few more unconventional ships along the way with the Chinese-built Bee-6 and the N7148A Experimental ‘flying ladder’.
Both John and Ute have worked in the ballooning business for some time – John as a professional balloon pilot with a CPL/B licence and 1300+ hours flying all sizes of balloons from tiny one-man ‘hoppers’ to large passenger balloons up to 315,000 cu ft. He has flown in most European countries in addition to flying in South America, northern Africa, the Middle East and in southeast Asia. Ute has worked with several ballooning companies as crew – in Europe and North America – in sales and customer service as well as in ground crew and event management.
Together they have run their own ballooning operation in the Lake District as part of the Virgin organisation. They formed Airship Initiatives and Zeppelin Tours in early 2007.