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Often seen cruising Bay Area skies about 1,000 feet off the ground, the Eureka airship is one of only two of its type in the world, and the only one in the United States that carries commercial passengers. This German-made zeppelin, owned by Airship Ventures, is not a blimp; though both types of airships are filled with helium, only a zeppelin has an internal framework. 
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin patented plans for a rigid-frame airship around the turn of the 20th century. The United States has long been a huge supplier of helium: a 1927 ban on exporting it forced the German airship the Hindenburg to use highly flammable hydrogen — until its fiery demise in Lakehurst, N.J., in 1937.

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