Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 8 - Graf Zeppelin

On August 8, 1929, the Graf Zeppelin, a German-built and -operated, hydrogen-filled, rigid airship, began a “Round-the-World” (Weltrundfahrt) demonstration flight that officially began and ended at Lakehurst, NJ. The project was backed by William Randolph Hearst’s media empire, which included the New York Daily Mirror and news services. Hearst paid $200,000 ($2.5 million today) for media rights, though costs were also offset by lucrative carriage of commercial and commemorative mail. Flying east, the airship stopped at Friedrichshafen, Germany (its home), Tokyo and Los Angeles before returning to Lakehurst. The circumnavigation took slightly more than 21 days and covered 20,651 miles. Named after a German count, the Graf Zeppelin was inaugurated in 1928 with the goal of offering regular transatlantic passenger service. In 1932 it began providing passenger, mail and freight service between Germany and Brazil. It ceased operations, however, immediately after the spectacular destruction of the Hindenburg airship at Lakehurst in May 1937.

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