If something vegetal in the sky happened to catch your gaze near the 405 and 710 freeways a few days ago, well, that was just me, your intrepid Los Angeles magazine contributor, in the Flying Cucumber—a blimp designed to look like a whimsical doe-eyed cucumber. It sort of resembles a green whale too.
More important, though, why was I in this gigantic Flying Cucumber to begin with? I was invited by Hendrick’s Gin as the premium spirits brand launched its inaugural flight for Hendrick’s Air in a 130-foot-long and 44-foot-tall representation of a cucumber. One of Hendrick’s Gin’s distinctive profiles is an infused cucumber flavor.
The ride was smooth and mellow as cucumber spa water. Averaging a leisurely speed of 35 miles per hour and a cruising altitude of 700 feet, our airship pilot Charlie Smith pointed out Long Beach Harbor’s sights like the RMS Queen Mary, Shoreline Village, and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Of course, I was craning my neck trying to spot Long Beach restaurants like James Republic and Bigmista’s Barbecue.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any friends or family members who have ever ridden in a blimp. There aren’t that many of us. An even more exclusive club are airship pilots themselves like Charlie. Currently, an elite 20 to 30 airship pilots navigate blimps in the entire world—fewer than there are astronauts today.
But, not to fret, if you want to ride a blimp, and you reside in the cities that the Hendrick’s Flying Cucumber will be touring, then you too can have a shot at hitching a cruise on this curious vessel inspired by Hendrick’s Gin’s cucumbery flavor. Here’s how:
“Hendrick’s Flying Cucumber will launch with a coast-to-coast voyage beginning in April and concluding in August, granting expeditionary flights to fellow unusualists in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, South Florida, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Ann Arbor, Indianapolis, and Chicago.
“For a chance to win a ride aboard the airship, snap a photo of the Flying Cucumber as it soars over your town and post it onto Twitter or Instagram using #HendricksGin #CucumberChallenge. Should you reside outside of our flight path, you may enter to win a boggling array of other prizes by photographing an unusual place and posting it using the same hashtags. Twitter.com/HendricksGin, Instagram.com/HendricksGin, and Facebook.com /HendricksGin (#FlyingCucumber & #HendricksGin).
“Follow the misadventures and triumphs of Hendrick’s Air at HendricksAir.com.”