Fantastic images from the golden age of Airships – graceful, modern and doomed

Ashley features, photography, Timewarp Leave a Comment


These days we associate Airships with football matches as the smooth flight of the ship enables camera crews to take long and steady overhead shots of stadiums.

But there was a time in the 1930s when they were state of the art travel ships. If you wanted to get from Europe to the Americas you could either get a boat or go there twice as fast cruising in on a liner-esque Zeppelin.

Sadly, the Airship’s stint as the poster boys of inter continental travel didn’t last very long. The Hindenburg disaster put the public off travelling in the skies and then WW2 came and any remaining ships were put to good use chasing U-Boats.

For me though there is something wonderfully romantic and beautiful about the airships. They were the Art Deco fleet of the skies –  graceful, modern and, like many things from that era – doomed.

Here then are  a series of stunning images from the Airship’s golden age, along with a story or two about how they came to be.

Incidentally if you want to travel by Airship, you still can here.

Santo Dumos in Paris

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Alberto Santo Dumos was a wealthy Brazilian who was passionate about air flight. His big contribution to airships was that he was among the first to create steerable balloons that could be propelled through the air rather than drifting along with the wind. His discovery enabled him to develop a series of small airships which he would use for his party trick. He would float along the boulevards of Paris at roof level often stopping at his favourite restaurants for lunch. Santo Dumos' finest hour though was winning the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize, which was awarded to the airship that flew from the Parc Saint Cloud to the Eiffel Tower and back in less than 30 minutes. Santo Dumos' moved on from airships and was a pioneer of both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. This extraordinary man was also credited with popularising the wristwatch. His story would make an amazing film.