Day 187 Mile 187: Dirigible Day. On this day in 1919 the first transatlantic flight by airship was made. At the beginning of the First World War, Britain commissioned a series of airships for military use. Among these was the R34, spanning the length of two football fields and costing an estimated £350,000.
It must have been an impressive sight as the R34 had a total volume of 1,950,000 cubic feet and had a light weight metal structure covered with fabric. Buoyancy was provided by 1,948,840 cubic feet of gaseous hydrogen contained in 19 gas bags inside the airship’s envelope. R34 had a gross lift capacity of 59 tons.
The airship was powered by five 13-liter liquid-cooled Sunbeam Maori V-12 engines producing 270 horsepower at 2,100 r.p.m., each, and turning two-bladed, 17 foot diameter propellers. With the engines turning 1,800 r.p.m., the R34 had a cruising speed of 54 miles per hour and consumed 246 liters of fuel per hour.
By the time the Clyde-built R34 was complete, however, the war had ended and the Admiralty instead agreed to lend her to the Air Ministry for air-travel experiments. In July 1919, she became the first airship to make a return journey across the Atlantic in a feat described by the journal The Engineer as a ‘triumph for British aeronautics’.
The journey was made under the command of Major George Herbert Scott, A.F.C., R.A.F. and from the East Fortune Aerodrome at 1.48am on 2 July. Hours into the flight, the first incident took place when it was discovered that a stowaway had crept on board and hidden between the girders and the gas bags inside the hull.
Despite the initial setback, the article said: ‘Nothing worse occurred than the cracking of a cylinder water jacket, which was repaired with a piece of copper sheeting and chewing gum.’ The R34 arrived over Newfoundland at about 2pm on 4 July and later travelled to Mineola, Long Island, where it landed on 6 July.
‘Although the petrol carried amounted at the outset to 4,900 gallons – nearly 16 tons – the fuel supply began at that period to give some grounds for anxiety. Nevertheless, the journey was continued and in the end, the airship landed at Mineola with a petrol supply sufficient only for 40 minutes further flight.’
The total time occupied on the outbound journey, was 108 hours and 12 minutes.
So in honor of this, I went for a run around an airfield. Spirit-level flat and green with flocks of tiny birds against a cerulean sky 🙂
I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.
Distance: 1690.0 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
Thanks as ever for all the support!
Today’s earworm is remarkably silly, and apt.