COMPANY HISTORYVan Wagner Airship Group was formed through the acquisitions of The Lightship Group (TLG), the world's largest blimp advertising operator, and the American
Blimp Corporation (ABC), the designer and manufacturer of TLG's exclusive Lightship model blimps, the most popular advertising airships in the world.
Van Wagner Airship Group is a full service Airship advertising company that provides integrated airship promotional campaigns for major international clients.
In 1987 Jim Thiele, founded the American Blimp Corporation having devised the Lightship ® concept, subsequently building the prototype Lightship A-50 in 1988.
Virgin Lightships Inc, a subsidiary of the Virgin Group of Companies, was formed in 1989 as an airship operator, purchasing the first of four Lightships in 1990.
In 1990, the first production Lightship, the A-60, was manufactured by American Blimp in its new Hillsboro, Oregon facility, FAA certified the same year, and sold to Virgin Lightships.
The A-60 was upgraded in 1991 to an A-60+ with an increase in envelope volume to 68,000 cubic feet, increasing the lift capabilities of the airship.
In 1993, Lightship America was formed as an airship operator affiliate of American Blimp, operating the first of three A-60+ Lightships.
The Lightship Group was formed in 1995 as a partnership between Virgin Lightships and Lightship America, operating a total of seven A60+ Lightships through offices in Orlando, FL, USA and Telford, UK.
The first A-150 nine passenger Lightship was built and FAA certified in 1997 and was commissioned as the flagship of Sanyo North America Corporation.
As TLG expanded its global operations in the late 1990's, an office was opened in Rio de Janeiro in 1998 and Singapore in 1999.
In 2000, TLG teamed with an aerial film and video camera company, Flying Pictures, Ltd of the UK to form a joint venture company, Flying Pictures Live Ltd to provide aerial television coverage of sporting events from TLG's global airship fleet.
By 2001, TLG operated 16 Lightships on six continents for such major corporations as Anheuser-Busch, Mazda, Sanyo, Monster.com, Natwest Bank, StarHub, Goodyear, Orange, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, and HP Hood.
In 2002, Virgin Lightships was purchased by a company affiliated with American Blimp.
In 2004 TLG embarked on an ambitious product redevelopment project, and began designing and building the revolutionary A-170 Video Lightsign Lightship. This 178ft long, 170,000 cu ft airship is fitted with a giant 70ft x 30ft full color LED video screen on one side. FAA certification was achieved in early 2006, and the first unit was launched in Australia for the General Motors Holden brand. The success of this new product led to additional contracts in the US for Ginn Resorts and DirecTV.
In 2006 TLG moved its Singapore office to Beijing, China, to take advantage of the growing opportunities in this country, and as a headquarters for TLG’s Asia-Pacific region.
Today, TLG is the world's largest airship operator, providing integrated, full service Airship advertising and promotional programs across the globe for such esteemed companies as MetLife, General Motors, Goodyear, DirecTV, Syngenta, Nissen, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield and HP Hood.