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The Inaugural DragonCon Alternative History Airship Races
Created by Deadline on 9/4/2013 8:32:31 PM

DragonCon Alternative History Airship Races!


The highlight of the Alternate History Track Saturday morning in the Westin ballroom was the Inaugural Airship Races, jointly hosted by the Alternative History Track and the Steampunk Chronicle. The two hour event drew quite a crowd, filling the tall ballroom’s balcony and half of the floor seats, fans clamored to see the courageous captains fly their airships around two lovely Steampunk ladies (Jessica and Diane) who served as human course pylons.  Peter B. Slayer, Master of Ceremonies and provider of many laughs as the races got on, started by explaining to the interested and most curious crowd the rules and how the race would go.  He then introduced of the captains and their airships:

  • John Campbell and his S.A.S. Eleanor Page
  • Sean Peck and his The Vortex
  • Judson Stowe and his What The Helm
  • Captain Deadline and his HMS Chronicle

In two ship heats, the contestants battled their way down the course and around the paper umbrella wielding human pylons -- or tried to.   Airship racing is still a young art and keeping the ships on course is a challenge to be sure.  Wildly out of control, buzzing, fan-powered balloons are common, but, as Slayer said “That is the real reason that Steampunks wear goggles!”  To the music of marching bands, the captains wrangled their airships back and forth.  

Upon occasion, the crowd really got into the race. Sometimes they needed to duck fast as an errant ship wandered off course, or were “flossed” by a super thin ground control line. These fishing line tethers caused no end of headaches to some of the airships. In other problems, The Vortex, well into the race, lost battery power. Several members of the assembled audience produced paper hand fans and others puffed up cheeks and chests to BLOW the hobbled ship toward and across the finish line. It might be noted that this was well after Stowe’s What the Helm had gently and silently won the heat.  There was no time limit for the races. Simply, the first airship across the finish line won.  

After several rounds, the S.A.S. Eleanor Page captained by John Campbell emerged victorious, winning a prize of $50 from the Steampunk Chronicle!  Judson Stowe also wins for the Dirigible Design Competition. Airship races are just one of the new the ways we see steampunk growing. As a great mash up of makers tech, dueling completion, entertainment and one of the iconic steampunk elements this event has real legs. Airship races are now held at Steamcon in Seattle, Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, Steampunk Empire Symposium in Cincinnati, OH, DragonCon in Atlanta and rumors are that you might see some at Teslacon this year.   If you have a con near you, reach out to the organizers and the Steampunk Chronicle to see if they can bring airship races to your event.

If you missed it there are some great videos of the fun and frivolity:

The DragonCon Airship racing is based off the rules put forth by the Steampunk Empire Symposium of Cincinnati, OH and their annual race Airship races. Try this link to learn more  "So you want to build a Dirigible"

Folks interested in building an airship can joining the Captains and their fun by checking out this Facebook link to the Airship Builders Group .  If you would like to build your own paper craft HMS Chronicle you can start with these ship PDF’s  Port.pdf Starboard.pdf Deck1.pdf Deck2.pdf

And look here to the Chronicle for more detailed makers articles on “how to”


Click on any image below!

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