January 23rd, 2021

The flights of the Zeppelins

By Submitted Article on October 16, 2020.

Walter Kerber


Graf Zeppelin had been building airships since 1900. After the First World War, he produced LZ 126 airship, which was traded to the U.S. and renamed the SS Los Angeles. This allowed Zeppelin to build the LZ 127 in 1928, which was to transport 20 passengers in the lap of luxury.

In 1929, a great endeavour was undertaken with a flight around the world. There were flights to the Americas, the North Pole and other events, until the Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937.

Most of these special flights were publicized worldwide in the media, with the world tour even getting into the newsreels. That ship was the Zeppelin LZ 127. The ship made regular trips from Europe to North America, shortening the trip to just a three days. The Zeppelins also transported mail; on the first North America trip, LZ 127 transported a total of 89,529 postcards and 77,869 letters on the round trip.

In 1831, LZ127 started trips to South America, with regular line flights from 1932. The ship flew via Recife to Rio de Janeiro, where aircraft flew the mail to other South American cities. At times mail reached their destination up to 25 days sooner.

Consequently, many South American countries acknowledge the flights in their stamp issues or with overprints. The world tour caught the eye of most countries, even those which were never visited by the big airships. The anniversary of those times brought stamps from many obscure countries to celebrate the achievement, but it was an interesting time in world history.

Walter Kerber is a longtime member of the Lethbridge Philatelic Society.

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