Graf Zeppelin visits Tokyo, 1929.

1920sAviationHistoric EventsTransportation
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Graf Zeppelin over the Marunouchi business district, Tokyo, 1929.

Graf Zeppelin over the Marunouchi business district, Tokyo, 1929.

“The Luftschiff ‘Zeppelin’ came from Germany for a visit. The hour of the Zeppelin’s flying over Tokyo was announced, and the streets were full of people who wanted to have a look at this strange flying object which they had never seen before. They were amazed. For me it was like a greeting from my home country, and a nostalgic sight.”

My Life with Suzuki, Waltraud Suzuki, 1987

Map depicting the Graf Zeppelin Round-the-world flight, 1929.

Map depicting the Graf Zeppelin round-the-world flight, 1929.

Graf Zeppelin's arrival in Tokyo, over the Sumida river, 1929.

Graf Zeppelin’s arrival in Tokyo, over the Sumida river, 1929.

From the wiki: “Although the Graf Zeppelin (LZ 127) was not the first aircraft to circle the globe, it took only 21 days, 7 hours, 34 minutes, a new record for round-the-world travel by any means. Furthermore the Zeppelin dirigible carried a full passenger load over much previously uncharted land. At the behest of American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, whose media empire was the major commercial backer of the project with four reporters among the flight’s nine passengers, the Graf Zeppelin’s ‘Round-the-World’ (Weltrundfahrt 1929) flight in August 1929 officially began and ended at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, with only three stops between: Friedrichshafen, Germany; Tokyo, Japan; and Los Angeles, California.

“Leaving Lakehurst on August 8, 1929, the Graf Zeppelin flew back across the Atlantic to Friedrichshafen, Germany, for refueling before continuing across Eastern Europe, Russia, and the vastness of Siberia to Tokyo (Kasumigaura Naval Air Station) on a 102-hour 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 6000-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 Zeppelin 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 Zeppelin 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 29 August, exactly 21 days after it had departed.”

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