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A Passenger Zeppelin for A merica i Sw A L ik 1 V Robert J. Thompson on board ihe "Bodensee." IT IS just forty-eight years ago, this bright Novem ber morning in the eventful year of 1919, that I was dragged by the hand through a broken, frost kissed cornfield, to witness the entry into my native village of the first locomotive to arrive there. A youngster of three years. I had never received, Up to that time, any impression that has stuck to me as has the picture of that awful monster, come to our settle ment from some far place. 1 could see it in the dis tance, above the corn, and recall that it was with fear and trembling that I came near the thing. That was the day of prairie schooners in those parts, and this frightful phenomenon was the wedge of civiliza tion's great drive across the rolling stretches oi Iowa's fertile plains. And this child hood picture comes back to me today as I sit comfortably, an ordinary passen ger, skimming over the foret tops, val leys and hills of Ger many in the Zeppelin airship. "Bodensee." in one of its regular mgnts from Berlin to Switzer land. I have a journey hrt'ort' mi ai ftome four hundred miles as the crow flies; and as the pilot lays the course for the airship, my trip shall be a bee-line from the Ger man canita! to the Alps. ith Germany's crippled trans portation facilities, the run by rail. now. occupies about twenty-tour hours. In fact it is i formidable undertaking, requiring breaks on the way for sleep and refreshment. I shall make the distance m four and a half to six hours, accord ing as the wind is favorable or not. Von reach the great Zeppelin hall, where the air ship service starts, by automobile, a ten mile ride from the center of the city. L'nter den Linden, or the offices of the Hamburg-American Steamship Com pany, which concern, if one might prophesy a bit, may be expected, from its past performance in ocean transportation, to do some pioneering in this (I am sure) future method of rapid travel. The hour of leaving is, at present, eight in the morning, the pas sengers being assembled at the above offices at that time. 1 had discovered, previously, that one had to book his reservations some weeks in advance, to have a place on the Zeppelin. In fact, the space about the desk where these bookings were made was crowded. It recalled old times when the Hamburg Line was far and away the greatest ocean transporta tion organization in the world, and one of the most popular. For a moment a vague thought flashed through my mind: "Is the spirit of Albert Ballin at work here, and coming back, in the form of leadership in the navigation of the air?" Ballin built the Im perator and the Yaterland, the George Washington and President Grant. It was his idea, too. to promote Zeppelin travel ; and the passenger traffic of the air ship concern is under the control of this steamship company. I had been unable to secure a place on the ' Boden see" in her flight from Switzerland, though I explained that I wanted to write about the trip for Thk Dkakhokx INDEPENDENT. I had to telegraph a fortnight ahead, from Montreux on Lake Geneva, engaging a seat for a trip from Berlin back to Switzerland. ARRIVING at the Zeppelin works and the great hall, where these air cruisers are made, and where they are housed during their resting hours, you find a vast shed, of steel and cement construction, which is up ward of five hundred feet in length, two hundred in width and one hundred, or more, high. Our airship was awaiting us. It was anchored to some fifty bags of sand resting on the floor of the hall, as well as several running trolleys attached by cables to tracks extending out of the hall several hundred or a thousand feet. The thing seemed small in its great berth. Along the sides of this shed were numerous flexible pipes for feeding the gas cells of the ship with hydrogen gas. Both the Zeppelins and the gas are manufactured on the place. The gas cells of a Zeppelin there are eleven in the "Bodensee" are placed in a row like peas in a pod, By ROBERT J. THOMPSON WITH PHOTOGRAPHS BY T H I .WRITER and inclosed in a tubular and pointed alun.numfranm which is again covered b) an encasing velopc. TTu Mssencer car. or aondol, being oi the greatest weight. ErvS I kee. the ihip, and the motorj. a. he screws, double, triple or more as the cae ma be, or the air liner. The covering of these cells IS IM Of what is called goldbeaters cloth. I his ma terial is composed ot tne lining oi im stomach of the cow, and is theoretically imnermeable. These strips 0 skin are about eight by fifteen inches m Site and are glued OOC upon the Other three or four thick, overlapping to hrp;.k ioints. Nevertheless, when the vessel ascends over five hun dred feet, the expansion of gas effects a loss which may be de termined exactly according to the altitude. But to our journey. You pass through a gateway, and your baggage is checked and weighed. Each passenger is al lowed thirty pounds free, the ex- mti ii titan in I' tttlldRiMBMWiEffa I The pursuing shadow on pine forest. cess being charged at the rate of ten cents per pound. A truck full of large trunks was loaded up (note the distinction) into the hold, along with the petrol and oil for the thousand odd horsepower motors. The passenger gondol of the latest style of Zep pelin is placed well forward under the body of the flyer. It resembles a Pullman chair car very much, not only in size but in convenience. The capacity is twenty five passengers, and there were that number of up holstered willow-work chairs, with places n nbered set along the walls of the interior. The wind 1Hxt' t, each chair, were removable, so one could it n'js head out and look directly down on tin- , v j thought these windows were glass, and took oi n to find It as light as paper. I lifted my chair w! h was large and com f ortable. to find it also astoi ihiogk light. There were substantial appearing coin- m ex. tending up and down along the inside of th ir. j tapped one of them with, my pipe. It was as ancj hollow as a paper tube. The floor seemed sol- L0th and was carpi ted w ith a dark red material. , tnt ceiling and walls were draped with similar terial. NetWork racks wire placed over each seat f hail( baggage and parcel, everything was there, an every thing was Complete. At the front of the goi I (the technical term lor the passenger carriage), and cut off by a partition, is the navigation and officers' leering room. In the rear, also cut off from the passenger compartment by a partition, are the entrain . . Way. a kitchenette, and toilet conveniences. The full complement of passengers was a! 1. Jn addition to the number in the passenger gond then was a crew of sixteen men, chiefly above in thi hold of the ship, whence they could swarm down the shroud like braces to tne motor gondols. We had entered by means of a movable set of stairs leading u to the gangway. 1 found my seat, which was number nine. and at the same moment discovered that we were floating out of the hall drawn by the trolleys already re ferred to. As soon as we were in I I -"..I . -1, tne open, i removeu my window and put my head out. There wi re about one hundred men holding the mon ster by ropes and hand-railing! fas tened to its sides. Just as looi as we were free from the hall, the ship was veered by the wind to face the south and it became apparent that there was a very healthy head-wind on. to combat. This caused a delay ol half an hour in our getting off, through the necessity of taking on additional petrol. They put up into the hold an extra six large tanks of this fuel. AT TEN o'clock we were away. Im i mediately the airship wai un leashed the motors were started, and we sensed at once the complete con trol of the thing. Rising by the force of the propellers, more than through the lifting power of the gas, the ship was off. like a great fly in. -wan. direct to the southwest. It may not be too much oi an ex aggeration t say that in one'l first Zeppelin flight, minutes imprest you as seconds and heurs pass liki min utes. Almost instantly, it appeared, we wen racing above Potsdam and the famous Sans Souci of 1 drich the Great, at a speed of seventy miles an hoi. The ship was navigating the lower strata of air and was only about four hundred feet above the tips of the pine trees. The palaces of Potsdam were spread out be neath us like souvenir cards and could be Ti -:nized easily from our windows. This picture gave . ay al most instantly to something else equally in1 itinfl and below, diagonally off to the north, sharp' visible on the uneven surface of the dark green spnu forest over which we were traveling, there came, darting along, like swift-running shadows over ripem wheat fields, a great black object, never losing us, keeping equal pace, crossing lakes, fields, and woods, like some sinister pursuer the shadow, the simulacrum of the "Bodensee," I had the good fortune to have as fellow-p.. engers an American aviator, Colonel Hensley, and B fl von Gemmingen Goettingen, the nephew and mana g suc cessor of the late Count Zeppelin. Colonel ettW was making his thirty-first trip on the MBod e ." as I was informed, and in the way of negotiating ith the Zeppelin people for the purchase, for the American finvprnmcnt of on iirtio d-iJ ! c vt :u)SS1D'1' that by the time this article appears, we ma ow ners of the very latest thing in this line, a graceful creature, three times the size of tin see," described in this letter. This new ship, already constructed, but not sembled, is of a capacity (hydrogen gas) of 100.W cubic meters, considerably larger, I believe, than gOT thing built during the war. It has been calculated to a nicety (and there are no errors in the Zeppelin ealcula- An old style Zeppelin over Lake Constance. be the ist and Bodeo- m I iu" a Airship halls at Friedrichsbafen, Germany.