Graf Zeppelin Visit 1929
THE ZEPPELIN FLIGHT—beg pardon, the Hearst-Zeppelin flight—captures the imagination, as does any activity of these huge, slightly incredible ships which now and then nose through the sky, inviting mortals to gape. Eclipsing its last year’s Friedrichshafen-New York record by sixteen hours, it arrived in this country and landed its passengers, chimpanzee, gorilla, and 600 canaries. Then it faced around, and, fifty-five hours after leaving Lakehurst, entered its hangar back home, first stop in the Tokio-Los Angeles-New York circuit—a 21,700-mile trip, the longest ever attempted by a dirigible.
Yet, just as there is hardly an adventurous person who would not swap places with one of the Graf Zeppelin’s passengers, there is hardly a shrewd person who believes that the much-discussed commercial transatlantic dirigible service is a possibility for the near future. Commander Sir Charles D. Burney, head of the company which built the British giant R-100, has pointed out that, in the first place, the Graf Zeppelin’s crossing time does not show a sufficiently big margin over that of fast ships.
Furthermore, even if, as Dr. Eckener and other experts hope, dirigibles prove able to make the crossing in two days or so, other obstacles present themselves. There is the expense of housing and inflating the craft, its perishable nature, and the size of the ground crew which must be maintained for launching and landing purposes. Again, there is the difficulty of mooring a ship of 8,000,000 cubic feet capacity in all weathers, not to mention the difficulty of keeping it aloft. For spectacular purposes, the dirigible undoubtedly will increase in feasibility and popularity. As a business proposition, however, its prospects remain decidedly up in the air.