Today is the Birthday of Human Flight

by Dan Grossman on November 21, 2014

Today is the birthday of human flight.

On this day in 1783, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, Marquis d’Arlandes made the first manned flight in history when they flew over Paris for 25 minutes in a hot air balloon built by the Montgolfier brothers.

Happy birthday, helium heads!



Today is the anniversary of the world’s first airline. DELAG was established on November 16, 1909, and provided passenger service — including the world’s first transatlantic airline service — using zeppelin airships.

DELAG was an acronym for Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-Aktiengesellschaft, or German Airship Transportation Corporation Ltd.

Brochure and "seat map" for the DELAG passenger airship Bodensee.

Brochure and “seat map” for the DELAG passenger airship Bodensee.

While many of the flights before World War I were local sightseeing tours, the DELAG airship Bodensee began regular scheduled service between Berlin and southern Germany in 1919. The flight from Berlin to Friedrichshafen took 4-9 hours, compared to 18-24 hours by rail.

DELAG offered the world’s first transatlantic passenger airline service, using LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin to make regularly scheduled flights between Germany and South America beginning in 1931. Graf Zeppelin crossed the South Atlantic 136 times before being retired after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937.

Transatlantic schedule of DELAG airships Graf Zeppelin, 1934

Transatlantic schedule of DELAG airships Graf Zeppelin, 1934 ( collection)

DELAG also employed the world’s first flight attendant, Heinrich Kubis.

Heinrich Kubis with passengers on LZ-120 Bodensee

The world’s first flight attendant, Heinrich Kubis, with passengers on the airship Bodensee

DELAG’s operations were taken over by the newly-formed Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei in 1935.


Great Photo of Goodyear Blimp “Resolute”

by Dan Grossman on November 13, 2014

A great photo of the Goodyear Blimp Resolute taken over Manhattan in August, 1935, by Dr. Alfred “Ted” Hill.

Goodyear Blimp Resolute.

Goodyear Blimp Resolute. (photo by Dr. Alfred Hill, Kent O’Grady collection)

My deep thanks to Kent O’Grady for allowing me to share this wonderful photo from his personal collection.

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New York Times Article on Aeroscraft

by Dan Grossman on November 10, 2014

About Igor Pasternak and Aeroscraft, in today’s New York Times:

Pursuing a Shipping Revolution as Big as His Airship 


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A Complete Guide to The Goodyear Blimp

by Dan Grossman on November 10, 2014

Goodyear Blimp

I have just published The Goodyear Blimp, Today and Yesterday | A Complete Guide to Goodyear’s Advertising Blimps.

Please let me know what you think.

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Silly Zeppelin Movie of the Day

November 4, 2014

This is the interior of the zeppelin in the 2006 movie Flyboys. How did the thing ever get off the ground?

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Happy Halloween from

October 31, 2014
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Hindenburg Size Comparisons

October 27, 2014

It is hard to imagine just how big the Hindenburg was. Hindenburg and United States Capitol Hindenburg and Boeing 747-400: Hindenburg and Goodyear Blimp (GZ-20A): But then again, Hindenburg needed room for interiors like this:  

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Anniversary of Graf Zeppelin’s First Transatlantic Flight

October 15, 2014

On this day in 1928, LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin arrived at Lakehurst after a 111 hour, 44 minute flight across the Atlantic from Friedrichshafen. Hugo Eckener was in command of the 40-man crew and the 20 passengers included Charles Rosendahl and Lady Grace Drummond-Hay. The ship’s first transatlantic crossing almost ended in disaster when a fin […]

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German crew of LZ-126 after arrival at Lakehurst; 90 years ago today.

October 15, 2014

On this day in 1924, LZ-126 arrived at Lakehurst for delivery to the U.S. Navy, to become U.S.S. Los Angeles (ZR-3). These are two photos from my collection showing the German crew who flew the ship across the Atlantic. LZ-126 had arrived from Germany inflated with hydrogen, which was carefully released so the ship could be operated with […]

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90 Years Ago Today: LZ-126 leaves Germany to become U.S.S. Los Angeles

October 12, 2014

90 years ago today, LZ-126 left Friedrichshafen, Germany to fly across the Atlantic and begin its new life in the United States Navy.  The construction of LZ-126 saved the Zeppelin Company, and U.S.S. Los Angeles (ZR-3) became America’s most successful rigid airship.

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Anniversary of the Hindenburg “Millionaires Flight”

October 9, 2014

The “Millionaires Flight” of the Hindenburg was a 10-1/2 hour cruise over New England on October 9, 1936, for 72 wealthy and influential passengers.  The guests were invited to generate support for a German-American zeppelin service and it was said the passengers had a combined net worth of more than one billion dollars, from which the flight got its nickname. Passengers […]

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British Airship R.101 Crashes, Killing 48 – This Day in 1930

October 5, 2014

On October 5, 1930, the British airship R.101 crashed on a hill in Beauvais, France. The impact was gentle and survivable but the ship was inflated with hydrogen, and the resulting fire incinerated 46 of the passengers and crew. Two additional crew members died of their injuries soon after. An Avoidable, Political Catastrophe The crash […]

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Crash of U.S. Navy Dirigible Shenandoah, 89 years ago today

September 3, 2014

On September 3, 1925, the U.S. Navy airship U.S.S. Shenandoah (ZR-1), crashed in Ohio, killing fourteen members of the crew. Shenandoah: A specialized but weak design U.S.S. Shenandoah was based on the design of a World War I German Zeppelin, L-49, that had been forced down in France in October, 1917. L-49 was one of the “height climbers” […]

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Werner Franz, last surviving Hindenburg crew member, has died

August 28, 2014
Thumbnail image for Werner Franz, last surviving Hindenburg crew member, has died

Werner Franz, the last surviving crew member of the airship LZ-129 Hindenburg, died on August 13, 2014, at the age of 92.   The sole living survivor of the Hindenburg crash is now Werner Doehner, who was an 8 year old passenger traveling with his family. Werner Franz was born in Frankfurt-Bonames on May 22, 1922, […]

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L.A. Smog and Near Disaster for the Graf Zeppelin; 85 years ago today

August 26, 2014

I am very grateful to Lynne Kirste of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for passing along this restored high-definition footage of LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin taken at Los Angeles 85 years ago today, August 26, 1929. This might easily have been one of the last films ever made of LZ-127: The ship was very nearly destroyed on its departure from […]

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New Airship Novel: “Wings of Fury”

August 20, 2014

Wings of Fury is a newly-published suspense novel set on an zeppelin-type airship. Written by R. N. Vick, a pilot and flight instructor from Montana, it is an enjoyable read and a good summer novel for us helium-heads. From the publisher’s description: It’s 1933, the golden era of aviation. The Pathfinder is an 800-foot passenger zeppelin. It is […]

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Guest Post: The Dr. Eckener Rose

August 13, 2014

This is a guest post by reader Dagmara Lizlovs While researching biographical information on Hugo Eckener I came upon a website with information on a Dr. Eckener rose.  I did some further research and found that a rose had been named after Dr. Eckener and that this rose is still available for one’s garden. The […]

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Happy Birthday, Hugo Eckener

August 10, 2014

Today is the birthday of the great Hugo Eckener, born on August 10, 1868, in the city of Flensburg. Happy Birthday, Dr. Eckener.

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Anniversary of Graf Zeppelin’s Around-the-World Flight

August 7, 2014

On this day in 1929, LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin left Lakehurst, New Jersey on its historic flight around the world. Lakehurst – Friedrichshafen August 7, 1929 – August 10, 1929 7,068 km / 55 hrs 22 mins Friedrichshafen – Tokyo August 15, 1929 – August 19, 1929 11,247 km / 101 hrs 49 mins Tokyo – […]

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