Keep the faith, brother

Zodiac III

Can any better sport or amusement be imagined that could be obtained with an airship of the Zodiac type, endowed with a speed of 40 miles an hour for four hours, or 20 miles an hour for eight times this period, and so on in cubic proportion?

Always able to reach a desired goal, but with the ever changing wind to add an element of interest to the journey; free from dust and the dangers of the road; always able to stop and enjoy the still air. An airship of this type would combine the delights of a motor car, a balloon, a sailing yacht, an aeroplane, with the dangers of none ...

It is perhaps worth while contrasting such a vessel with an aeroplane designed for the same purpose: condemned to be rushing through the air every moment of its time; never slowing, never pausing while its occupants look down on the mountain tops, or eat a quiet meal; unable to come down except where the ground has been specially prepared.

It would seem that it is to the dirigible that the ordinary family man must look for his aerial source of health and daily pleasure, and he will not be disappointed ...

Then in a few short years we shall be able to alter the question and ask ''Won't you come for a cruise over beautiful country in a staunch ship, with powerful pumps, with two reliable engines, at a speed as great as you could wish, and provided with a faithful anchor by means of which you can at all times pass a night in peace, or ride the fiercest storms?'' And the whole world will answer ''Yes.''

'Ripping Panel', ''The future of dirigibles''. In Fred T. Jane, ed., All the World's Air-ships (Flying Annual) (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1909), 325.

Image source: ibid, 171.

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5 thoughts on “Keep the faith, brother

  1. Chris Williams

    For me, the epitome of this kind of stuff is Alberto Santos-Dumont pottering round Paris in Numero 14 (or thereabouts), mooring outside his favorite cafe, buying a drink, then flying off home.

    _Demoiselle_ is in the Musee de l'air et l'espace, in Paris. Not the most beautiful aeroplane ever built (answers to that particular question should be sent on a postcard addressed to 'FD2 Competition'), but close.

    Interwar equivalent - the Weir Autogyro? Now Weir - there's an airminded bloke if ever I saw one, who was also responsible, if Boyle is reliable, for asking Trenchard's IAF to target German civilians in 1917.

  2. Brett Holman

    Post author

    I had no idea that Weir was into autogyros as well! I love autogyros, they are such a dead end. Though his biography (Architect of Air Power) says that the driving force behind that venture was his younger brother, James. Still, it does boost his credentials as an airminded person.

    Another equivalent from the thirties might be the Flying Flea, something like a modern home-built microlight, which was promoted by the Air League, though it didn't take off (so to speak!)

  3. Chris Williams

    I thought that the problem with the Flying Flea wasn't with the 'taking off' bit, but with the 'flying around and not crashing fatally' bit.

  4. Brett Holman

    Post author

    Sure, that's why I said "so to speak", I was referring to it's not taking off in the market sense, not in the aeronautical sense ... alluding to the latter meaning was just an attempt at humour ...

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