August 8th, 1929 – Around the World by Zeppelin


Eight years prior to Hindenburg disaster of 1939, another famous zeppelin event occurred in New Jersey. On August 8th, 1929 LZ127 the Graf Zeppelin commenced her journey around the world.

Zeppelin LZ127 680

The trip was funded by American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst who sent four of his staffers as part of the nine passengers of the Graf’s “Round-the-World” (Weltrundfahrt 1929). As the major backer of the trip, Hearst insisted that the flight officially begin and end at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey.

The route of the Graf Zeppelin's around the world trip.

The route of the Graf Zeppelin’s around the world trip.

The Graf Zeppelin flew back across the Atlantic to Friedrichshafen to refuel before continuing across Eastern Europe, Russia, and the vastness of Siberia to Tokyo (Kasumigaura Naval Air Station) on a 101-hour, 49 minute nonstop leg covering 7,297 miles (11,743 km). Crossing the inadequately mapped Stanovoy Mountains in Siberia proved to be a precarious venture with the Graf eventually being forced to climb to 6,000 feet in order to clear the range through a high mountain canyon with barely 150 feet to spare. After five days in Tokyo, the Graf continued across the Pacific to California crossing the coast at San Francisco before landing at Mines Field in Los Angeles thus completing the first ever nonstop flight of any kind across the Pacific Ocean, covering 5,986 miles (9,634 km) in 79 hours and 54 minutes.

The 2,996-mile (4,822 km), 51 hour 13 minute transcontinental flight across the United States took the Graf over 13 states and such cities as El Paso, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit before arriving back at Lakehurst from the west on the morning of August 29th, three weeks after it had departed to the east on August 8th. Flying time for the four Lakehurst to Lakehurst legs was 12 days, 12 hours and 13 minutes while the entire circumnavigation (including stops) took 21 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes and covered. 33,234 km (20,651 mi). It was at the time the fastest circumnavigation of the globe.

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