LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin 1st Round The World Flight Postcard 1929
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin 1st Round The World Flight Postcard 1929 - Colourized postcard entitled "California Fan Palm and Ivy Geranium, Street Trees in California.", stamped "FIRST ROUND THE WORLD FLIGHT U.S. AIR MAIL" and illustrating the four main stops of the zeppelin as it flies around the globe, postmarked August 29, 1929 at Lakehurst, New Jersey with a graphic of Graf Zeppelinto the right, two U.S. stamps and cancelled at Los Angeles, California, addressed to "Mr. P.H. Anderson, White Plains, N.Y.", on card stock, 86 mm x 136 mm, extremely fine. Footnote: LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was a German-built and -operated, passenger-carrying, hydrogen-filled, rigis airship which operated commercially from 1928 to 1937. It was named after the German pioneer of airships, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was a "Graf" or Count in the German nobility. During its operating life, the airship made 590 flights covering more than a million miles (1.6 million km). It was designed to be operated by a crew of 36 officers and men. At the behest of American newspaper publisher Willaim Randolph Hearst, whose media empire was the major commercial backer of the project with four staffers among the flight's nine passengers, the Graf's "Round-the-World" flight in August 1929 officially began and ended at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. As with many of the airship's other flights, however, its expenses were also heavily offset by the carriage of souvenir mails to and/or from Lakehurst, Friedrichshafen, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. A U.S. franked letter flown on the whole trip from Lakehurst to Lakehurst, for instance, required US$3.55 in postage or the equivalent of roughly $45 in current dollars if based on the CPI. The $200,000 Hearst paid for exclusive media rights would currently be the equivalent of $2.5 million if figured on the same basis. As with the October, 1928 flight to New York, Hearst correspondent Lady Grace Drummond-Hay was on board making her the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air. Also representing Hearst among the passenger complement were correspondents Karl von Wiegand and Australian Arctic explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins, and photographer/newsreel cameraman Robert Hartmann. The US Government was represented by Naval airshipmen LCDR Charles Rosendahl and LT Jack C. Richardson who flew as official observers. 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). Although the Soviet government had formally requested by radio to the Graf for the airship to overfly its capital, Moscow, Dr. Eckener declined because of the necessity "to take advantage of the tailwinds and remain on the straight airline without deviation or halt" necessary in order to reach Tokyo nonstop, a decision which resulted in considerable disappointment and annoyance on the part of the Russians. (To make amends for this perceived slight, a year later the Graf made a special two-day round trip flight from Friedrichshafen to Moscow on September 9–10, 1930 landing briefly to collect souvenir mail at Moscow's "October Field" where it was greeted by a crowd of some 100,000 people.) 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 29, three weeks after it had departed to the east on August 8. 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).