MetLife Blimp Returns

The MetLife blimp returned to Orlando this week to be a part of the Arnold Palmer 2011 Invitational  being held at Bay Hill (right across Apopka/Vineland from Sandlake Hills, where I live). While I have absolutely no use for golf, I was certainly happy to see the MetLife blimp return.

MetLife Riding High
MetLife Blimp, March 2011
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 50-200mm
1/1000s, f/5, ISO 100, 83mm, manual

MetLife Blimp Mooring Shot (11/365)
MetLife Blinp, January 2011

I wrote about the MetLife blimp last January. As you can see from the second photo, the little MetLife had a complete livery change, up in Tennessee. While I will miss Flying Snoopy, I certainly think the new livery is better, certainly brighter and more cheerful. With white being the predominant color, it will certainly stand out while in flight.

I'm curious about the flight characteristics of the blimp now that the sides are mostly white, instead of mostly dark blue. White absorbs far less heat than dark blue. Will it take more helium to achieve the same buoyancy? And if there's more helium in the blimp, will it handle any differently? These are questions that came to mind after I left.

MetLife Nose Detail
MetLife Blimp Nose Detail
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 50-200mm
1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 123mm, manual

MetLife Port Head-on
MetLife Port View, Head-on
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 50-200mm
1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 50mm, manual

MetLife Starboard Rear
MetLife Blimp, Starboard Rear
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm
1/1000s, f/5, ISO 100, manual

MetLife Tail Detail
MetLife Blimp, Tail Detail
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm
1/1250s, f/5.6, ISO 100

MetLife Gondola Detail
MetLife Blimp Gondola Detail
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 50-2000mm
1/400s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 158mm

MetLife Head-on
MetLife Blimp, Head-on
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm
1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100, manual

MetLife Helium Stores
MetLife Blimp Helium Stores
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm
1/4000s, f/2.5, ISO 100

I didn't meet Airship Bill this time. There were two different pilots this time. One of the ground crew told me that they were flying tomorrow over the golf game, along with a video camera operator. Since I live on the west side, and work on the east side, I doubt I'll see it in flight.

But maybe, if I drive by early enough in tomorrow morning, I'll get to see it lift off.


The photos were taken with two cameras, an E-3 with the 50-200mm and the E-1 with the Sigma 30mm. When I post-processed the E-1 images, I was surprised at the rich colors produced by the E-1, colors that seemed richer without any post-processing than those produced by the E-3. The E-3 turned in a stellar performance, but the E-1, under the same lighting and the same subject, was just a little bit better. Nearly everything was taken with both cameras in manual mode, except for gondola and helium bottle photos. The helium bottles were taken with the E-1 in aperture priority, and the 30mm was opened up as far as possible until the shutter speed hit 1/4000s, the E-1's maximum. I wanted the background as much out of focus as possible.


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