Thursday, 15 October 2009
Zeppelin to America
From Our Correspondent: Lakehurst, New Jersey, 15th October 1924
"Hopes are fading for a successful conclusion to the fantastic exercise of a trans-Atlantic crossing from Friedrichshafen, Germany, to here in New Jersey today. In one of the most incredible adventures yet seen in the world of aviation, the German Zeppelin, LZ-126, no longer the monstrous terror-bomber of the late European War, was to have been flown by its co-creator, Dr Hugo Eckener across the stormy waters of the North Atlantic to take her place amongst the burgeoning ranks of our own glorious Air Corps.
As our readers will know, this terrible symbol of Prussian aggression was to have been offered to our government as part of War Reparations, and would have been converted to civilian use.
The Hydrogen-filled monster was last seen crossing the Irish coast in cloudy weather, escorted by fighters that appeared as mere moths against her giant bulk; (See photograph above) her expert crew confident that they would make landfall on American shores within two days.
President Calvin Coolidge's Office has denied reports that her disappearance may have some connection to the recent activity of Air Pirates in the vicinity of the Newfoundland Coast, and have stated that all efforts are being made to trace the gaseous leviathan......"
An interesting anniversary today, the fifteenth of October, which saw the successful conclusion of a transatlantic flight some three years before the exploits of Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis, which have somewhat claimed the limelight ever since. Dr Hugo Eckener, co-developer of Germany's dirigible airships, convinced the Allies post WWWI that it would be better to support the fledgling aviation industry by allowing the construction of civilian airships, rather than seeing them dismantled. Although controversial, this decision saw the transfer of LZ-126 from Germany to the U.S. Air Force to become the ZR3, later the Los Angeles.
Once her Hydrogen had been replaced by Helium, she served on as a training ship, and had the distinction of being the only U.S. Airship not to be destroyed in an accident, making over three hundred flights in an eight year period.
Excellent information on this unusual footnote in history, and other early dirigibles can be found here:
Plenty of stuff to inspire scenarios, I think; was the LZ-126 intercepted by Air Pirates, or did Dr Eckener have more sinister motives for taking charge of the Zeppelin on her maiden voyage?....
(Photo shows Revell Minikit Hindenburg accompanied by flight of Irregular Miniatures 2mm IKGW6, generic biplane)