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Going Down

Met Life’s dropping the iconic image of Snoopy is only the beginning of the story. The whole blimp industry is on the brink of collapse because of that little remote-controlled device, the drone. Let’s face it, technology will soon claim another victim in the same way it has devastated the newspaper industry and book stores. One pilot––not the Red Baron––estimates it costs about $20 million dollars for Met Life to run just one blimp for the year. The insurance company has two blimps flying in America, and one in Japan. The blimps cover 70 events every year and take part in a hundred flyovers and visits. It takes two pilots and 12 crew members to run each blimp. Those crew members are engineers, mechanics, technicians and riggers who don’t work cheap. Add five ground support vehicles and the gas they consume to transport the blimp to different events and you’re looking at a very fat bottom line. Drones are cheaper and more versatile than blimps and can cover golf tournaments, baseball games, football games, soccer––you name it. True, you can’t put a big ad on the side of a drone and the public relations value of a ride a thousand feet over your town is not there, but considering the amount of money involved, it could be spent on other things like ever higher executive salaries and perks, not to mention a needy congressman, or two.

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