I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. We have just finalized
plans and begun early construction on the first dedicated PPG cruise
ship. Expected competition date is August of 2009 with her maiden voyage
to follow immediately. This is not simply a 60 ft. luxury yacht with a
few added PPG amenities, it is a full sized cruise ship that will be
fully staffed and operated by the Royal Caribbean Corporation, along
with a special PPG assist crew.
We have spent 3 years and 2 months in
the planning and approval stages, a little longer than normal due to the
special construction considerations of the project. It will be
constructed and operated as any typical cruise ship with a few very
important distinctions. The uppermost deck of the ship will consist of a
single, obstruction free, railless, full length and width, rectangular
platform 922 ft long by 268 ft wide (247,096 sq/ft) covered in astro-turf,
dedicated to the launching and landing of PPG’s. All cabins,
restaurants, pools, auditoriums, hot tubs, etc. will be located below
the main flight deck. Royal Caribbean has also agreed to an additional
100 specially trained PPG flight assist crewmembers to help with motor
maintenance, refueling, wing layout, launch assist, cross-country
planning etc. They have also agreed to equip the ship with 500 motors
and wings to make the guests’ travel arrangements more convenient.
Our initial concerns with the obvious hazards of launching PPG’s from a
ship and flying over water have all been addressed by the appointed
water safety taskforce. The taskforce spent many man-hours addressing
all concerns and possible scenarios concerning water safety. Together,
with the U.S. Coastguard, here is the system they have formulated. There
will be a separate, specially trained, 48 person, water safety and
rescue team. It will consist of 6 watchmen, 12 scuba divers, 6 rescue
jet boats, 14 jet ski operators, 4 crane hoist boats with 40 X 40 ft.
alternate landing platforms and several other ancillary organizational
and communications members. In addition, all motors will be equipped
with water activated flotation devices as well as SpareAirtm mini scuba
tanks. The idea is that there will definitely be accidental water
landings, but that they will simply be minor inconveniences rather than
life threatening situations.
As far as daily operations go, the ship will function as any typical
cruise ship, with ports of call specifically chosen for their PPG
appropriateness such as predicted wind and weather, beauty, as well as
Typical days at sea will include morning and evening stops mid-sea for
pleasure flying. The ship will position appropriately cross-wind, then
wings will be laid out port or starboard, as necessary. Flight deck
captains will commence individual launches as pilots become ready.
All water safety rescue team members and flight deck crewmembers will be
in constant radio communication with a newly designed, multi-member
communication system designed by the U.S. Secret Service. When at ports
of call, pilots may choose to launch from the main flight deck, or have
their equipment transported to a local flying site, or perhaps a costal
ridge soaring site.
The planning stages are over and work has begun. Many people have worked
very long and hard to make this monumental task possible and I look
forward too……. bzzzzzz… bzzzzzz… bzzzzzz… darn alarm clock, and I was
really enjoying that dream too!
1. Tim and his wife Christine are
visionaries with an eye to airborne adventure.
2. This early test flight inspired their dream of a
dedicated PPG cruise ship. It was during a dolphin-watching cruise on a
specially cleared section of an older cruise ship. Railings were a
problem but the constant deck wind allowed vertical takeoffs from
kiting. He is just kiting here.