Germany’s giant airship the Graf Zeppelin left Lakehurst, New Jersey 78 years ago today on August 8, 1929 on what was to be one of the most famous and memorable trips in the history of air transportation – the first flight around the world by an airship. The Graf Zeppelin was the largest airship ever built. Her overall length was 776 feet and she held over 3 million cubic feet of hydrogen gas. At the time of this daring undertaking the future of Zeppelin air craft travel looked very safe and reliable. As the technology of air planes improved through the 1930’s the Zeppelins of the world had more and more competition. The end of the Zeppelin era came with two major accidents. The first was the R-101, a British airship that crashed in France on her maiden voyage in 1930. The second, most people have at least heard about, the Hindenburg which ominously caught fire and burned at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937, the very place where the Graf Zeppelin’s famous journey began nearly a decade before.
On a different note, pardon the pun, the band Led Zeppelin was given its name when Keith Moon, the drummer for the Who, said that they were “so heavy they should go down like a lead zeppelin”, although Who bassist John Entwistle has claimed the idea was his. Soon the ‘a’ was dropped out of the word lead, to avoid confusion over the pronunciation, and the greatest band of all time was born.