Commercial Aeronautics

July 14, 1927

Report Outline
Federal Aid to Commercial Aviation
Technical Developments in Aeronautics
Special Focus

The non-stop flight of Charles A. Lindbergh across the Atlantic to Paris on May 21, 1927, focused the eyes of the world on the practical possibilities of trans-Atlantic aviation. This successful flight was followed by that of Chamberlain and Levine to Germany on June 4, 1927, by that of Lieutenants Maitland and Hegenberger to Honolulu on June 28, 1927, and by that of Commander Byrd with his companions on June 29, 1927, to France. The fact that all these long flights were made without loss of life and were distinguished by the good behavior of the new air-cooled engines has increased the enthusiasm of aviators in all countries as well as of the public for practical flying over long distances.

Before the world war civil air transport was attempted but the results, as far as airplanes were concerned, were negligible. Airship travel, however, made some progress. In 1909 a German operating company, bearing the name of Delag, placed in commission the Zeppelin built airship “Schwaben”. From that time until 1914 this ship and four more constructed for passenger traffic conducted over 2,000 flights during which approximately 42,000 passengers were carried without mishap. By 1918, however, the situation had reversed itself. The exigencies of the war had caused the airplane to receive the major share of scientific research and development and the intensive demand for rapid replacement of heavier-than-air craft had created an enormous industry to supply and maintain the fighting air forces. With the cessation of hostilities those engaged in the construction of aircraft turned their attention to peace time employment of their products and it was natural that the preponderance of effort should be directed towards the establishment of commercial air transport using the airplane as the carrier.

Lighter-Than-Air Developments

Nevertheless lighter-than-air craft development for traffic purposes did not cease. The Germans, until they were required by the Treaty of Versailles to discontinue airship construction, had produced three ships, the last of which, the U. S. S. Los Angeles, is at present in operation in this country in the interests of scientific research and experiment. In addition the United States and Great Britain have been active in the experimental operation of rigid airships of the Zeppelin type. The United States has an organization known as the Goodyear-Zeppelin Company for the construction and operation of rigid airships for hire. This company has recently been awarded a contract by the U. S. Navy to prepare the designs for an airship of 6,000,000 cubic feet capacity. The British Air Ministry is in the process of constructing two 5,000,000 cubic foot ships which are intended to operate on regular schedule from England to India via Egypt, with future extension of the service, if successful, to Australia and New Zealand. In addition, Hugo Eckener, the director of the old Zeppelin Airship Company, is attempting to organize a company to operate an airship route between Spain and Argentina. All these projects, however, are still in the experimental stage and lighter-than-air transport finds itself in practically the same position that heavier-than-air occupied ten years ago. Extensive research and development must be undertaken before the airship can play a major part in commercial aeronautics.

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Jul. 14, 1927  Commercial Aeronautics
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