Cloud Shadows Thrown Upon the Atlantic.
Photo by Major Pritchard taken from the R 34.
The R34 is up and away, having taken off a little before midnight on the 9th of July. Promising the people of New York City a flyover, the zeppelin heads west and is soon over the city. General Maitland recorded the event:
New York at night looks wonderful from a height of 1000 feet — miles and miles of tiny bright twinkling lights. We wonder if it is necessary to go higher to avoid bumping into the “skyscrapers”, so Scott puts her up to 1500 feet to be quite sure! The searchlights at first make some very unsuccessful attempts to find us, and their beams are “feeling” through the sky in every direction. Finally they get us fair and square over Fifth Avenue.
The Times Square, Broadway, is a remarkable sight—we see thousands of upturned faces in spite of the early hour (1 am), and the whole scene is lit up by the gigantic electrical sky signs.
The air over New York feels very disturbed, partly owing to the approaching cyclone from the Great Lakes, of which we have already had warning, and partly also to the heat rising upwards from the city itself; in spite of this the ship is very steady.
Flyover completed, the R34 turns east and begins her 3000 mile journey home. With a strong tail wind to start her voyage, the ship is making nearly 80 miles an hour ground speed. The weather is good and the day is quiet and routine.
Lunch, served at noon, is cold bologna sausage and pickles, stewed pineapple, and a ration of rum. Maitland notes the rum “is much appreciated, as the weather has turned much colder.”
By 4.50 pm, the R34, with the help of the wind, had covered a third of the distance home, when the General noted the wind had finally dropped and the sea below them was a deep blue.
At 6.15 pm a five-masted schooner is sighted about 5 miles away and Maitland is quick to observe “What an interesting contrast between the old and the new — the sailing ship and the airship!”
Supper was served at 8 pm and consisted of “fresh boiled eggs and cocoa, preceded by a cocktail mixed by Scott. Apparently some Thermos flasks full of cocktail ingredients had been handed in by some anonymous well-wisher, and we try them as an experiment. Decide they are just as good in the air as on the ground!”
Not mentioned in any secondary source I have on the voyage is the gramophone that was on board. The officers and crew of the R34 indulged in some high-flying jazz!
Maitland also noted the very favorable impression everyone had of the Americans they’d met and that “Quite a number of charming ladies declared their intention of making the return trip as ‘stowaways’, and the ship was carefully searched before starting.”
With cocktails, jazz, and fond remembrances, the men of the R34 motor on into the night.
Stay tuned! There’s more to come on this epic voyage!
Interior of R 34 showing Walking Way and Petrol Tanks.
Taken on board during flight by Major Pritchard.