This Month in Buoyant Flight History – July

July 2

          1900     First rigid dirigible (the Zeppelin LZ-1, built by Graf Zeppelin) flies carrying five passengers a distance of 3.7 miles (6 Km) in 18 minutes near Lake Constance (Bodensee) in southern Germany. Click here to read more about the LZ-1.

          1912     The airship Akron explodes 15 minutes after departing from Atlantic City, killing all five aboard. It was attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Click here to read several articles about the accident in the newspapers of that time.

July 4

        1993     A blimp leased by Pizza Hut for an advertising campaign, crash-lands on the roof of an apartment building on Manhattan’s West Side in New York City. Click here for the New York Times coverage and pictures of the blimp and the accident.

July 6

          1960      The U.S. Navy’s ZPG-3W, the largest of the Navy’s blimps, crashes in the Atlantic off the shore of New Jersey. 18 of the 20 crew members died in the accident.  Click here to read an article about the crash published in Time magazine. Click here to see images of the ZPG-3.

July 8

        1838      Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin is born in Konstanz, Prussia (today part of Germany). The city lies on the western shores of Lake Constance, across from Friedrichshafen, home of the Zeppelin Company. Click here for a brief biography of Graf Zeppelin and pictures of him and of the Lake Constance area.

July 16

          1889     The Campbell airship, piloted by Prof. E. D. Hogan, is lost at sea off the coast of New Jersey. Click here to read the article published by the New York Times on July 19, 1889. Click here to read an article in the Scientific American of July 27, 1889.

July 18

          1943     The U.S. Navy’s K-74 airship is shot down in the Gulf of Mexico by German submarine U-134 using deck guns, after engaging it to protect two merchant marine ships. Click here to read an article about the event in the March-April 1997 issue of Naval Aviation News. Click here to see some pictures of the K-74 and its crew.

July 19

          1920     A fire at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake hangar destroys the Navy’s D-1 blimp and Goodyear’s D-58 Pony Blimp. Both airships were inflated with hydrogen. Click here to see a picture of a Pony blimp and the Wingfoot Lake Hangar at that time.

July 24-31    

           1931     The Graf Zeppelin makes a polar flight  with three scientific goals: exploration and mapping of Arctic regions, magnetic field measurements and meteorological observations inside the Arctic Circle. Click here to read more about the expedition.

July 27

          1958     ZPG-2 “Snow Goose” leaves from the South Weymouth Naval Air Station on a flight to Ice Island inside the Arctic Circle. Click here to read a report on the trip by Wing Commander K. R. Greenaway.

July 29

          1930     The first transatlantic passenger flight takes off from England for Canada. HM Airship R-100, a rigid airship, made the 3,300 mile crossing in 78 hours, landing in a suburb of Montreal. Click here to read more about the R-100.

July 31

          1879     Charles Grimley, Charles Pagé and Richard W. Cowan ascend in their “aerial car” attached to a 70,000 cu ft balloon from Montreal accompanied by 3 newsmen. Their purpose was to demonstrate that a gas filled balloon could be controlled using hand-driven paddle wheels for propulsion. Although they had little success, they did open the door to further investigation and development of controlled flight. Click here to read a newspaper article recalling the event, published in the Montreal Gazette on August 9, 1986. Click here to read an article by one of the journalists that made the trip, published in the New York Herald on August 12, 1889.