Dreams v. Reality: The Ron Paul Blimp Story

By Theresa Cook

Dec 14, 2007 9:57am

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports:  It was almost too good to be true, even according to the organizers at www.ronpaulblimp.com.

The harebrained idea started in an e-mail or online chat somewhere among Ron Paul supporters unaffiliated with the campaign.

"Let’s get a Ron Paul blimp," the thinking went. Score free media coverage because this is, if anything, a nontraditional campaign tactic.

And so the blimp dream was born. A website was set up. Shares in an LLC were sold to skirt campaign finance law. A blimp was procured and enormous decals were ordered.

Everything was on course to have the blimp wend its way up the East Coast for a triumphant and media friendly float over Boston Harbor as Ron Paul supporters railed against taxes and commemorated the Boston Tea Party below and gave Ron Paul a "moneybomb" online.

But then the problems started. From idea to execution blimps ordered by corporate sponsors are usually many months in the designing and production. The Ron Paul Blimpers were to be airborne in one.

Turns out it takes longer than expected to get the 200 foot long decals for a blimp. And getting them overnighted to North Carolina is not like ordering Christmas presents from Amazon. There are homeland security issues with that large of cargo.

So the launch date, originally scheduled for Monday, Dec. 10, was delayed to Tuesday. Then Wednesday.  Then Friday (view pictures from the launch HERE). All the while organizers promised the blimp would be in Boston for the tea party — even though Paul, himself concerned with breaking election law if he got too close to his independent, rascally supporters, elected to spend the weekend at home in Texas.

Add to all that the bad weather set to descend upon the same East Coast airspace the blimp was set to float in and the problems multiply.

Time for Plan B — Boston is a no-go. The zeppelin will now head not north to Boston and the early primary state of New Hampshire,  but south to the another, slightly less early primary state of South Carolina, then maybe catch the Seattle vs. Carolina NFL football game on Sunday and then maybe the huge media markets of Florida.

The story of the Ron Paul Blimp is an evolutionary saga.

Keep live track via streaming GPS at www.ronpaulblimp.com.  But be prepared for an evolving flight plan.

Here is how organizers put it in an email Thursday night:

"The current schedule has it passing over Raleigh at 1 pm, Greensboro at 3pm, Charlotte at 5pm and landing in Chester, SC around 6pm.  It will spend the night in Chester and then head to Columbia, SC in the morning."

"The launch time and scheduled route are assuming weather conditions are agreeable.  Simply to take the blimp out of the hanger requires the wind speed to be under 15 knots.  Current expectations are that the wind will be under that speed."

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