Hindenburg Size Comparisons

by Dan Grossman on October 27, 2014

It is hard to imagine just how big the Hindenburg was.

Hindenburg and United States Capitol

Size comparison: Hindenburg versus United States Capitol

Hindenburg and Boeing 747-400:

Size comparison: Hindenburg versus Boeing 747-400

Hindenburg and Goodyear blimp (GZ-20A):

Size comparison: Hindenburg versus Goodyear Blimp

But then again, she needed room for interiors like this:

Hindenburg's Dining Room

Hindenburg’s Dining Room



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.

Graf Zeppelin first atlantic flight map

The ship’s first transatlantic crossing almost ended in disaster when a fin was damaged passing through a squall line on October 13, but it was repaired in-flight by a four man team including Knut Eckener, Albert Sammt, and Ludwig Knorr.

LZ-127 fin damage and repair

{ 1 comment }

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).

German crew who flew LZ-126 across the Atlantic.

These are two photos from my collection showing the German crew who flew the ship across the Atlantic.

German Zeppelin Company crew of LZ-126 / ZR-3. October, 1924.

LZ-126 had arrived from Germany inflated with hydrogen, which was carefully released so the ship could be operated with helium, but the Navy did not have enough helium to inflate two large airships at the same time so the ship’s first flight under American command had to await the return of U.S.S. Shenandoah, which was still on a cross country flight, so the helium in Shenandoah’s gas cells could be transferred to the new ship.




90 years ago today, LZ-126 left Friedrichshafen, Germany to fly across the Atlantic and begin its new life in the United States Navy

LZ-126 Leaving Germany to become U.S.S. Los Angeles

The construction of LZ-126 saved the Zeppelin Company, and U.S.S. Los Angeles (ZR-3) became America’s most successful rigid airship.


Anniversary of the Hindenburg “Millionaires Flight”

by Dan Grossman on 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.

Nelson Rockefeller in Navigation Room of Hindenburg

Nelson Rockefeller in Navigation Room of Hindenburg

Passengers on the “Millionaires Flight” were leaders in the fields of finance, industry, government, and aviation. The guests included powerful financiers such as Winthrop W. Aldrich and Nelson Rockefeller; U.S. and German government officials and naval officers; and leaders in the aviation industry including Eddie Rickenbacker of Eastern Airlines, Jack Frye of TWA, Eugene Vidal, and perhaps most importantly, Juan Trippe of Pan American Airways.

Juan Trippe had been a director of the Pacific Zeppelin Transport Company, founded in 1929 to operate a never-realized 36-hour zeppelin service between California and Hawaii. Airships appeared to pose direct competition to the flying boat airliners Pan Am wanted as operate across the Atlantic, and in fact shortly after the Millionaires Flight, Trippe and his wife Betty embarked on a round-the-world voyage by air that included a flight on Hindenburg from Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro. Trippe was invited on the Millionaires Flight to stimulate his interest in investing in a zeppelin venture but, firmly invested in Pan Am’s clipper flying boats, he likely accepted the invitation to check out the competition.

Juan Trippe on Hindenburg, 1936

Juan Trippe on Hindenburg flight to Rio de Janeiro, 1936 (photo Elizabeth Trippe, courtesy panam.org)

The flight was jointly organized by the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei (DZR) and Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso), which supplied diesel fuel and hydrogen to the Hindenburg, and the passengers were hosted during the flight by Hugo Eckener, Ernst Lehman, and DZR’s American representative, F. W. “Willy” von Meister. NBC radio reporter John B. Kennedy did live airborne broadcasts from the ship over the NBC Blue and Red networks in the afternoon.

Each passenger was given a souvenir duralumin ashtray with a glass model of the airship filled with Esso diesel fuel

Each passenger was given a souvenir ashtray with a glass model of the airship filled with Esso diesel fuel

The Flight

The flight was a leisurely day-long cruise over the fall foliage of New England.

Passengers boarded a specially chartered Pullman train at New York’s Pennsylvania Station on the evening of October 8, 1936, and settled into sleeping compartments. The train traveled to Lakehurst overnight and parked at a railroad siding a few hundred feet from the mooring mast, and at 5:00 AM the passengers were awakened for breakfast and then taken to the airship.

Hindenburg left Lakehurst at 6:57 AM and flew up the Hudson River to New England, passing over Hartford, Springfield, and Worcester, and reaching Boston around Noon.

The ship circled over Boston while the VIP guests enjoyed a midday meal of Swallow Nest Soup, cold Rhine salmon, tenderloin steak, Chateau Potatoes, Beans a la Princesse, Carmen salad, and iced melon, accompanied by beer and wines including a 1934 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen and a 1928 Feist Brut, and followed by Turkish coffee, pastries, and fine liqueurs.

Hindenburg Menu from Millionaires Flight

After lunch the airship turned south and passed Providence, New London, and New Haven before reaching New York City at around 3:00 PM, and finally headed back to Lakehurst.

Despite a heavy fog (which grounded the American Airlines DC-3′s taking passengers back to New York from Lakehurst), Hindenburg landed without difficulty at 5:22 PM and then departed for Germany as scheduled on its last transatlantic crossing of the 1936 season.

Complete Passenger List

Winthrop W. Aldrich, 1950s

Winthrop W. Aldrich, 1950s

Winthrop W. Aldrich
Chairman of the Chase National Bank

Sherman Altick
Aviation Editor

J. W. Bancker

William J. Baxter
Baxter International Economic Research Bureau

R. H. Blake

Lt. Gen. Friedrich von Boetticher
German Military Attaché to United States (“Hitler’s Ambivalent Attaché”)

Harlee Branch
Chairman of U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board; City Editor and Washington correspondent for The Atlanta Journal

William J. Brewster

Ray Brock

Harry A. Bruno
Aviation Public Relations Executive

Juan Trippe of Pan American Airways

Juan Trippe of Pan American Airways

William A. M. Burden
Wall Street aviation analyst; great-great-grandson of railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt

Reginald M. Cleveland
Aviation Reporter; New York Times, Scientific American

Colonel J. C. Cone
Director of Air Regulations, Aeronautics Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce

Rear Admiral Arthur B. Cook
Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics, United States Navy

William F. Cutler

H. Morin de Linclays
U.S. General Manager of the French Line (Compagnie Générale Transatlantique)

Harry L. Derby
President, American Cyanamid and Chemical Corporation

Jack Frye of TWA around the time of the Millionaires Flight

Jack Frye of TWA around the time of the Millionaires Flight

Robert Dorman

Frank Durand
President of New Jersey Senate

Byron C. Foy
President of De Soto Motors and son-in-law of Walter Chrysler

Frederick H. Frazier

Jack Frye
President, TWA

Alvin T. Fuller
Former Governor of Massachusetts (perhaps best known for his refusal to pardon Sacco and Vanzetti); Wealthy automobile dealer and art collector

Commander Garland Fulton
U.S. Navy airship officer

Garland Fulton Hindenbug Ticket

Robert L. Hague
Vice President, Standard Oil of New Jersey

John Augustine Hartford
Chief Executive, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P)

John D. Hertz
Founder of Yellow Cab Company; Partner in Lehman Brothers investment bank; Transportation investor

H. E. Hildebrand

H. L. Hughes

J.L. Hughes

Thomas Hughes

Harry P. Kelliher

John B. Kennedy
Reporter, National Broadcasting Company

James L. Kilgallen
Famed Report with Hearst’s International News Service; Father of reporter Dorothy Kilgallen who made a round-the-world flight by air, including a leg on Hindenburg

Robert D. King

Juan and Betty Trippe disembarking Hindenburg

Juan and Betty Trippe disembarking Hindenburg after a flight from Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro, 1936 (photo Elizabeth Trippe, courtesy panam.org)

John E. Lamiell
Director of the International Service, United States Post Office

Roman Lapica
United Press Staff Correspondent

Arthur Levy

Thomas Lewis

Karl Lindemann
Director of the Hamburg-Amerika Line and an officer of Standard Oil

Paul W. Litchfield
President of Goodyear Tire & Rubber, and the leading force behind American commercial airship endeavors

Hans Luther
German ambassador to the United States; Former chancellor and President of Germany and President of the Reichsbank

Paul MacKall
Bethlehem Steel Executive

Lucius B. Manning
President, Cord Automobile Corporation

Thomas McCarter
Former New Jersey Attorney General and founder of the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey, one of America’s largest utility companies

Edward O. McDonnell
Director of Pan American Airways; Banker with Grayson M.P. Murphy (an investor in the Pacific Zeppelin Transport Co., of which McDonnell was a director)

Joachim Meyer

R. Walton Moore
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State

A. L. Murphy

Ed Neil

Pat O’Brien

Rear Admiral William S. Pye
United States Navy

W. M. Rapsher
United States Customs Service

Eddie Rickenbacker in his Eastern Air Lines office (Auburn University Library)

Eddie Rickenbacker in his Eastern Air Lines office (Auburn University Library)

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker
Famed aviator, WWI fighter ace, and General Manager of Eastern Air Lines

Joseph P. Ripley
Vice President, National City Bank; Investor in Pan American Airways, NYRBA, and United Aircraft; Director of Pacific Zeppelin Transport Co.

Nelson Rockefeller
Chase National Bank; Grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller; future Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States

Commander Charles E. Rosendahl
Senior U.S. Navy airship commander

John F. Royal
Senior Executive, National Broadcasting Company

E. J. Sadler
Vice President, Standard Oil of New Jersey

Abel Alan (“Abe”) Schechter
News Director, National Broadcasting Company

Dr. D. A. Schmitz

John Schroeder

Edward L. Shea
Executive Vice President, Tidewater Associated Oil Co.

Richard Southgate
Chief of Protocol, U.S. Department of State
(One of Southgate’s predecessors as Chief of Protocol was Ferdinand Lammot Belin Sr., whose son (“Peter” Belin) survived the Hindenburg disaster)

Gene Vidal

Gene Vidal

Admiral William H. Standley
Chief of Naval Operations, United States Navy

Juan T. Trippe
Head of Pan American Airways; Director of Pacific Zeppelin Transport Co.

Eugene L. Vidal
Director of Aeronautics of the U.S. Department of Commerce; a close personal friend of Amelia Earhart

Lieutenant George F. Watson
U.S. Navy airship officer

M. G. B. Whelpley
Vice President, Chase Securities; President, American Express Bank & Trust; Former V.P. of Chase National Bank

Vice Admiral Robert Witthoeft-Emden
German Naval Attaché

H. C. Woodall

Henry Ford, Walter P. Chrysler, Alfred P. Sloan Jr., and Walter C. Teagle were among those who were invited but did not join the flight.

I would like to express my appreciation to Patrick Russell and John Provan, and Doug Miller of the Pan Am Historical Foundation, for their assistance with this post.

{ 1 comment }

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 […]

Read the full article →

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” […]

Read the full article →

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, […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

Guest Post: The Dr. Eckener Rose

August 13, 2014

This is a guest post by Airships.net 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 […]

Read the full article →

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.

Read the full article →

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 – […]

Read the full article →

Today in History: The crash of LZ-4 and the Miracle at Echterdingen

August 5, 2014

Today is the anniversary of the crash of LZ-4 on August 5, 1908.  The crash could have been the end of the zeppelin dream, but marked instead its beginning. LZ-4 On July 1, 1908, Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s fourth airship, LZ-4, made a record-breaking 12-hour flight over Switzerland.  The German government promised financial support if Zeppelin’s […]

Read the full article →

Joyeuse Fête Nationale!

July 14, 2014

In honor of le 14 juillet, here is a brief review of early French airships. Giffard Steam Powered Airship In 1852, Jules-Henri Giffard built a 144-foot hydrogen airship powered by a coke-fired steam engine.  Taking off from the Paris Hippodrome on 24 September 1852, the dirigible was able to fly several kilometers downwind but was not powerful […]

Read the full article →

Anniversary of the First Round-Trip Flight Across the Atlantic

July 13, 2014

On this day in 1919, the British airship R34 completed the first round-trip crossing of the Atlantic ocean by air. Westbound Crossing R34′s flight from Scotland to New York was the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic from East to West, against the prevailing westerly winds; a feat that would not be accomplished by airplane […]

Read the full article →

Today is the Birthday of Graf Zeppelin the Man & Graf Zeppelin the Airship

July 8, 2014

Today is the birthday of both Graf Zeppelin the man and Graf Zeppelin the airship. Ferdinand Adolf August Heinrich Graf von Zeppelin – better known in English as Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin — was born on July 8, 1838. The first airship to bear his name — LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin — was christened by his daughter, Countess Helene […]

Read the full article →

Today in History: The First Westbound Flight Across the Atlantic

July 6, 2014

On this day in 1919, the British airship R34 completed the first westbound fight across the Atlantic in history. Because of the prevailing westerly winds, this feat would not be matched by an airplane for almost a decade.

Read the full article →

Happy Independence Day, America

July 4, 2014
Read the full article →

Today is the Birthday of the Zeppelin

July 2, 2014

The first zeppelin airship to take to the skies made its maiden flight on this day in 1900. On July 2, 1900, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s first airship, LZ-1, left its floating hangar for an 18 minute flight over the Bodensee (Lake Constance) in southern Germany. (You can read more about the first zeppelins, and the […]

Read the full article →