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The age of the commercial airship was short-lived scarcely more than a quarter of a century.With remarkable collection of photographs, this book witness to the magic of those gentle, awesome giants of the sky 'cathedral of aluminium'.


Book cover finish Hardcover ( square back binding )
Special features First edition
Condition Very Good
Number of pages 73
Published date 1978
Languages English
Size 19 x 1 x 25 cm
Author Len Deighton & Arnold Schwartzman
Editor Jonathan Cape Ltd


The age of the commercial airship was short-lived scarcely more than a quarter of a century. In that time, the incidence of disastrous failure was high. Although comparatively few fare-paying passengers lost their lives in airship wrecks, fatalities among the machines out-number the airships that survived to pass into honourable retirement. Yet Len Deighton calls the airship one of the greatest triumphs of structural engineering the world has seen. Through this remarkable collection of photographs, many of them never published before, he bears witness to the magic of those gentle, awesome giants of the sky 'cathedral arches twisted into a tracery of aluminium'. 


No more than forty years ago, just two years before World War II and the demise of the airship, the only regular passenger flights between Europe and North America or Brazil were by luxuriously appointed and noiseless airships, sauntering gracefully at low enough altitude for navigation by road maps. Even as early as 1912, passengers could relax in their wicker armchairs on the carpeted flight deck after an excellent cold lunch aboard the postal delivery Zeppelin and watch the German countryside unroll beneath them at a steady 45 miles an hour. So where did the dream go wrong? One answer was provided by C. G. Grey, who wrote in 1926 that 'airships breed like elephants and aeroplanes like rabbits'. If that is less than a complete explanation, the allusion is not without its apt overtone of comic absurdity. 


Yet no morbid or mournful note is struck in the astonishing story of simple pioneering faith which Len Deighton unfolds. Nothing is so apparent in his pictures as the air of gaiety and festival that often attended scenes of rescue and salvage. Superficially it might seem that airships were a folly, a passing fad, a brief interval between centuries of slow, muscle-bound, earthly travel and the age of rockets in space. That would be to overlook the mystique of the airship, enshrined in this book as a sort of divine catalyst, a spark burning bright and extinguished in the instant, having en-abled men to cross a threshold and move out to the far reaches of the universe.

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