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 SpareAir tm 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 footdragability.
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!