Wednesday, 13 October 2010

America the airship: the first transatlantic crossing

America the airship: the first transatlantic crossing

Airship America's landmark crossing attempt recalled

This is a great example of the kind of account I (and, I hope, you my readers) find so amazing and edifying. I have to say that, student of aviation though I am, I had really known very little about the airship America before reading this article. Now, with the 100th anniversary of its attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean fast approaching, the full story has quite rightly been published.

And what a story! Like so many of the pioneering flights of the early 20th Century this effort is chock-full of thrills, hope and imagination but which in the end sadly resulted in failure and consequently historical oblivion. The story, and more importantly the significance of the flight, is right to be remembered now though and I'm glad to see the Smithsonian Institute creating a permanent display in memory. How different might things have been if the America has succeeded in crossing the Atlantic 9 years before Alcock and Brown in their Vickers Vimy aeroplane? Could it have speeded up the development of the airship to the point that it might have become the predominant form of air travel, usurping the aeroplane and enjoying a success greater than it did even in the 1920s and 1930s; maybe even lasting until the present day? Sadly we will never know and can only wonder at a future that never was.

As it is we are left with a fantastic testament to the adventurous, somewhat eccentric nature of the early flyers (I must remember to take a cat with me next time I cross the Atlantic!) and the enlightenment that comes from long forgotten escapades that are often stranger than fiction.

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