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The Golden Age of Airship Flight

His enthusiasm, skill and personal presence had enabled him to form the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation but the planning and building of LZ-127, Graf Zeppelin, took until 1925 and the relaxation of laws limiting Germany’s ability to build big airships. Money was raised from a variety of sources including government and private enterprise and on July 8, 1928, Count Zeppelin’s birthday, Graf Zeppelin was launched and christened by Countess von Brandenstein-Zeppelin.

The Graf, as it was informally known, was the largest, fastest and most impressive airship ever constructed. Powered by five enormous Maybach V12 engines, especially designed to run on either petrol or “blaugas” – a type of LPG with the same weight as air – the new zeppelin could cruise at 120kmh. This made a transatlantic crossing of less than three days possible, compared to a week by the contemporary fast liners such as Queen Mary.

But Eckener had more spectacular plans for his airships and the first transatlantic flight was followed - once over his crushing schedule of talks, meetings and parades - by a series of high profile publicity voyages throughout Europe and the Mediterranean in the spring of 1929. His piece de resistance however was the ambitious round-the-world flight from August to September of that year.

More >> The Great Journey

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