ABC is the only company that is currently successful in selling its
airships. Jim Thiele, the founder of the Hillsboro, Oregon based
company conceived a light and
simple airship that would be easier and cheaper to build, buy and fly
than it's high tech counterparts. Two prototype ships, the A-50 and
the A-60 were built and resulted in the final design, the
In designing the Lightship A-60+ Jim Thiele went without any superfluous
technical gadgets. The A-60+ does not have vectored thrust as
its more expensive counterparts do. The gondola is suspended
by cables attached to exterior load patches on the envelope and not
to catenary load curtains inside the envelope. The simplicity of this
design explains the success and the efficacity of the Lightships.
Lightship A-60+. Note the exterior load patches.
Several Lightships have been sold to various companies. Two Lightships
are currently advertising the
Insurance Company on a year round basis.
Numerous companies have leased time on ABC airships through
The Lightship Group,
the largest civil airship operator in history, which is currently managing
over ten ships. Even
leased a Lightship
and had it flown over the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer,
Norway with their own name on it! ABC blimps have also been flown
in Brazil and the People's Republic of China. By mid 1996,
American Blimp Corporation had built about 12 Lightships.
In 1993 a new series of projects was started. The Lightship A-130,
A-150 and A-170 will follow the same
design philosophy as the A-60+ but they will be substantially larger. The
first A-150 took flight in late December, 1996. By October 3, 1997, it had
accumulated 683 flight hours.
It carries about twelve passengers and will therefore better be suited
for tourism and defense applications.
After the acquisition of
Thunder & Colt
by Cameron Balloons Ltd., ABC also bought the rights to the GA-42 design in
late 1995. What will happen to the series of two place non-rigid airships is
To get the latest information on ABC blimps see the official
American Blimp Corporation