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August 2021

1993 Airship Shamu Flight Over Central Florida Theme Parks

In 1993, I had the opportunity to ride aboard Airship Shamu on one of it's scheduled flights over the Central Florida theme parks. The blimp was owned by Airship International LTD, and founder Lou Pearlman, who later went on to create the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.

The blimp was based at Kissimmee Municipal Airport (now known as Kissimmee Gateway Airport) and had a truck-mounted mooring mast since there were not any hangars or permanent facilities at the airport.

I shot this video on August 4, 1993 using a Panasonic WF-F250/AG7450 SVHS camera. The camera was handheld and the footage is unedited, and has not been color-corrected or stabilized.

After departing the Kissimmee Airport, we head west to Old Town and Water Mania. We then head over Epcot Center, Disney-MGM Studios, the Polynesian Village Resort, the Contemporary Resort, and the Magic Kingdom. We then continue northeast along I-4 to fly above Sea World, the Orange County Convention Center, the Peabody Hotel, International Drive and it's hotels, restaurants and attractions, including Wet 'n Wild. The final portion of the flight is above Nickelodeon and Universal Studios before returning to Kissimmee.

The transfer from SVHS to digital revealed some dropouts in the video, however the tape held up remarkably well given its age. Hope you enjoy this footage from almost 30 years ago.

If you remember Airship Shamu, of other blimps and aircraft that were based in Kissimmee, please leave a comment below. It'd be great to hear from you. Thank you!

Video source:
Personal collection