Saturday, August 26, 2006

TIMES PAST: Crowds Greet German Airship Graf Zeppelin

Aug. 26, 1929: Tens of thousands showed up at Los Angeles Municipal Airport to witness the arrival from Germany of the Graf Zeppelin, one of several stops on the giant airship's round-the-world tour. "When the Zeppelin first appeared over the field at 1:50 a.m. at a height of about 1,000 feet, a tremendous shout that was distinctly heard in the ship broke from the crowd of 50,000 persons who had waited all night for its arrival," The Los Angeles Times reported. Then the announcer at the speech amplifier asked for silence so that the peculiar drone of the Zeppelin's motors could be heard clearly.

"The crowd was as colorful as any ever seen in Southern California. Japanese geisha girls in native costumes mingled with former German soldiers garbed in their wartime uniforms," the newspaper said. "There were scores of celebrities in the throngs that gained admittance to the field, but as their names were whispered about they were given only a passing glance by the crowds who were interested in the giant silver airship that swayed back and forth slightly with the vagaries of the wind."

The Zeppelin Airship D-LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin was launched for the first time on September 18, 1928. Designed for carrying 20 passengers and a crew of 40, this airship set a host of records, including the longest non-stop flight from Germany to Lakehurst, New Jersey, a 6200 mile trip, in 111 hours and 44 minutes. In August, 1929, she made the 20,500 mile around the world trip in a total of 12 days in the air. On the 90th birthday of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the German airship manufacturer, airship LZ 127 was christened GRAF ZEPPELIN. Although still fully operational, the airship was broken up in 1940, upon the order of Reich Marshal Hermann Göring.

No comments: