Airships.net

Graf Zeppelin being led from its hangar for its first flight on September 18, 1928. (Dan Grossman / Airships.net)

Graf Zeppelin being led from its hangar for its first flight on September 18, 1928. (Dan Grossman / Airships.net)

Teh intarwebs are a blessing for those of us who have an intense interest in obscure corners of history.   The time we would otherwise spend buried in a reference library, hunting down esoteric single-edition books can now be comfortably spent doing research from home.  Best of all, the net also provides a forum for us to share our knowledge and enthusiasm with others who share it—instead of merely boring our patient, understanding spouses.

It so happens that I have stumbled across something of a kindred spirit in Mr. Dan Grossman, an airship enthusiast who has amassed an outstanding collection of photographs and information about the lighter-than-air behemoths of the early 20th century.

Why my interest in airships?

As a technology and transportation nerd, I have long been fascinated by the history and technology of aircraft, ships, and trains.  And as a former pilot, obsessed by flight since I was a little kid, I naturally have a particular interest in the history of aviation.

In addition, as a technology enthusiast without formal training (my degree is in history, and not engineering), I am drawn to an era in which the most advanced technology of the day could be developed by untrained amateurs like Ferdinand von Zeppelin or Hugo Eckener.  The defining aviation technologies of the 1920’s and 1930’s — the improved internal combustion engine, the flying boat airliner, the passenger zeppelin — are remarkably simple devices, and there is not much about these machines that cannot be understood by a person with average intelligence and a touch of mechanical ability; there is something appealing for me about a time in which the height of technology was represented by machines which were, in essence, so very basic.

Whether or not one has a particular interest in airships, dirigibles and zeppelins, the information at Mr. Grossman’s site—Airships.net—is meticulously researched and gorgeously illustrated.  The sections on LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, LZ-129 Hindenburg, and the US Navy rigid airships (Shenandoah, Macon, Akron and Los Angeles) are peerless.  Go have a look.

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