Goodyear had bigger things in mind for their blimps after their service in WWII than to photograph sporting events.
When it came to post-war promises in America, the sky was the limit.
Picture your post-war self cruising to Paris in sumptuous comfort with large well-appointed staterooms, gay salons and many other features of a deluxe ocean steamship. Only instead of sailing over the ocean blue, you’d be floating in air in a great, safe, block-long luxurious Goodyear airship.
Cruise The World In a Flying Hotel
“Imagine cruising the world in a flying hotel, thousands of feet above the ground passing through the clouds at a gentle pace floating as much as flying” teased the headline of a Goodyear advertisement that ran near the end of the war in 1945.
The Goodyear ship was designed to carry 133 passengers in the same elegance and comfort of a deluxe ocean liner at three times the speed. It would fill a new niche luxurious, hotel-like comfort in long, sustained flight.
“Some day you can go to Europe in a giant 950 foot airship just like this picture in the ad,” Goodyear promised the war-weary reader. “You’ll soar along quietly, smoothly at comfortable altitudes. Your crossing will take about 40 hours- glorious hours of entertainment, delightful cuisine, luxurious relaxation.”
“We’re talking about the greatest rigid airship ever conceived.” they boasted. “It will take you for long cruises to many distant lands- on your two-week vacation- bring you home as relaxed and refreshed as you’d be from a stay in the finest resort hotel.”
Best of all, no need to worry about seasickness.
“Airships are the quietest, most vibration less means of transportation known. Airships offer nearly every advantage of an ocean liner with 4 to 4 times the speed.”
“And the modest cost will add another happy surprise.”
That was the future of air travel as envisioned by Goodyear looking towards the future of post-war vacation travel. At a time when flying overseas commercially had not been perfected and ocean liners were the only form of transport to cross the pond , Goodyear’s promise of airship travel was no pie in the sky.
Great Flights of Fancy
Great rigid airships were not a new dream of overseas transportation.
In the early 20th century these giants ruled the skies. Airships played an important role in WWI and early commercial passenger travel.
They were the first passenger aircraft to fly around the world- making over 100 safe Atlantic crossings in days when the feat was considered miraculous.
Even the smaller, non rigid airships of the Goodyear Blimp Fleet flew for 16 peacetime years between the wars without a single passenger accident. Then the US Navy commandeered them- and ordered many more for use in WWII.
Proud of their current War service, Goodyear boasted in their advertisements: “By now you’ve seen the mighty records of these Navy patrol Airships- and how they helped drive enemy submarines away from out ships and shores.
Concerned about Safety
For those skeptics to whom the fiery Hindenburg disaster of 1937 was still a fresh memory, Goodyear assured the public of the absolute safety of their transports. In the public’s mind the combination of flammable gasses, faulty design and difficult maneuverability meant they could be flying deathtraps
In the early years all airships, rigid and non rigid, depended upon hydrogen for buoyancy and lift. This gas was highly inflammable and explosive- a great hindrance to all lighter than air craft.
But American airships soon started to use a new gas- Helium. It was non inflammable, impossible of explosion- the perfect answer for airship progress. So in 1925 Goodyear produced the famous Pilgrim- helium filled-whose success led to the building of the remarkable Goodyear “Blimp” Fleet. These airships roamed the skyways of America for 16 years- travelled nearly a million miles – set world records for safety in flight.
Then came WWII. The US Navy Commandeered the Goodyear Fleet and ordered round-the -clock production of more and larger airships.
“Again and soon,” the ad pledged, “America can bring civilian travelers these luxurious giants of the sky-bigger ones, safer ones, than ever before. For America has the only safe lifting gas-non inflammable, non explosive helium. Today your Navy has thousand of trained pilots and crew men-equipped to take on the greatest airships ever conceived.
“Put airships in your travel picture- your overseas vacation plans. Not as competitors of speedy stratosphere planes, nor leisurely steamers-but as essential transport with a field all their own.”
“Airships,” Goodyear predicted “will hold a well-defined niche that’s all their own- luxurious, hotel-like comfort in long, sustained flight.”
Copyright (©) 2013 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved