One article of each ZEPPELIN POST JOURNAL is selected the WEB ARTICLE, which is published in the printed ZEPPELIN POST JOURNAL and also online on www.eZEP.de.
This article was published in the Spring2010 issue of the ZEPPELIN POST JOURNAL .
Rob Brumleve and Jonas Lanter report
On board the Vaduz Flight 1931
The Vaduz-Lausanne-Flight of LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin on June 10, 1931 is well connected with the zeppelin mail from Liechtenstein which was taken on board at Vaduz, Liechtenstein and dropped later at Lausanne, Switzerland. Liechtenstein issued two zeppelin stamps with face values of 1 and 2 Francs for this flight.
Postcard from Liechtenstein franked with 1 Franc zeppelin stamp.
The philatelic documentation about this flight is more or less limited to the Liechtenstein zeppelin mail and their numerous varieties. There is not much information available about the actual zeppelin flight. What we know is that the airship took off from Friedrichshafen on June 10, 1931 at 7.43 a.m. and flew via Vaduz and Lausanne back to Friedrichshafen with a 4.48 p.m. landing there; The flight time of this Switzerland and Liechtenstein zeppelin flight was almost nine hours.
This zeppelin flight was not a normal round trip. In fact, the zeppelin was chartered by the Rotary Club from Solothurn, Switzerland. While the zeppelin mail from Liechtenstein was loaded at Vaduz and later dropped at Lausanne, the Rotary Club from Solothurn had a great time on board this Vaduz-Lausanne flight.
The zeppelin trip was organized by the then-president of the Solothurn Rotary Club, Mr. Kofmehl, who was enjoying the trip together with his wife. The information that 18 members of the Solothurn Rotary Club together with 11 spouses had signed up for the trip is taken from a detailed diary of the trip written by Rotary Club member Eugen Bouch. We also learn from that diary that later three more club members signed up. One had to cancel his reservation and on short notice a German forester joined the Solothurn Rotary group at Friedrichshafen.
Zeppelin ticket issued for Mrs. Kofmehl.
The day before the zeppelin flight, the members of the Solothurn Rotary Club drove with their own cars to Friedrichshafen. They spent the evening together and stayed overnight at the Friedrichshafen Kurgarten Hotel. The next morning, at 7 a.m., the group was picked up by bus from the Friedrichshafen Kurgarten Hotel...
A short ride and we reach the home port of airship Graf Zeppelin, ticket barrier, embarking on the airship on a wooden ladder, the airship is rolled out of the hanger, balancing and we take off. This was done in a few minutes thanks to a splendid and well trained crew. And now we are on our way!
After a quick take-off procedure and a short circuit over the zeppelin yard and Lake Constance, the airship took direct course to the Rhine River valley and flew via St. Margrethen and Feldkirch to Vaduz, where the Liechtenstein zeppelin mail was taken on board.
And when we reached the area of Vaduz, he (note.: Petrus) sent us first hand heavy rain showers which were not creating an atmosphere of comfort. For those of us being on board the first time, the shaking and jarring of the airship was sensation rather then excitement. But because of looking outside and observing the maneuver of taking over the mail, we had no time to deal with the weathers forces. When the maneuver begun, our ship felt like it stood still, if it would not have been drifted by the heavy winds. The ships crew understood quite well how to defy the effects of the natural forces.
The Liechtenstein zeppelin mail was taken over at Schaan near Vaduz. A wide field was chosen for the mail transfer. The airship did not land to pick up the mail. Instead, it hovered, standing still in the air with running engines fighting the head wind. Ropes were dropped from the zeppelin and the Liechtenstein mail bags were hooked to them. Then the ropes with the mail bags were hauled up and into the airship.
Zeppelin postcard written by Mr. and Mrs. Kofmehl, addressed to their son. The card was written on board the zeppelin and bears additional signatures of the zeppelin captains Hans von Schiller and Ernst A. Lehmann.
After a quarter of an hour, the mail take-over at Schaan, Liechtenstein was done and the airship took course in a southern direction. Over Sargans, the zeppelin turned west and was flying at 600-800 meters above Lake Walen. Heavy wind gusts shook the airship, but at the same time it cleared up and deep blue sky appeared.
The Kurfirsten (note: Swiss mountain range) shared the excitement, and friendly waving was exchanged. We move on quickly, all windows are occupied and cameras are in action. The sun is burning on our skin, but that is nothing compared to the unimagined glory changing like a kaleidoscope every minute, delighting our eyes and our hearts. It is our fatherland and our home which is presented to us today through the technical wonder in such a descriptive pre-summer magnificence.
Passing the southern end of Lake Zurich, the flight proceeded via Einsiedeln Abbey. The next destination was Schwyz and Ingenbohl, which was reached a few minutes later.
And now we are not only hovering over a historic site, but also over the sun garden of our mother Helvetia, Lake Lucern, the most glorious of all magnificent ones.
The quoted historic site is the Rütli, the place were in 1291 the legendary oath of the Rütlischwur occurred which is considered the turning-point in the pursuit of Swiss independence. The flight proceeded over Lake Lucerne to Lucerne and from there in southern direction to Brünig and Meiringen.
Then came the gentile offer of our chief-steward: A cup of consommé, sandwiches for your convenience? Also on board the Graf Zeppelin, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. All hands were reaching out for these delicious bounties. The enthusiasm about natur’s beauty fainted for a moment. But the flow came back with a divine, sparkling donation by a silver wedding couple, welcomed on board with excitement. Fulsome praise and thanks bless them till today.
How endless charming is everything. Unforgettable remains what follows now. Below us is Meiringen, scattered at the shores of Lake Brienz surrounded by the neighborhood of delightful small villages of the Bernese Highlands. And all of the tremendous Alp mountains seem within one's reach, proclaiming new enjoyment.
The zeppelin flight proceeded via Interlaken and Lake Thun. While flying over the city of Thun, the airship was accompanied by an airplane. At the same time, the Solothurn Rotary Club on board the airship waved greetings to their Rotary colleagues from Thun on the ground. From Thun, the airship flew directly to the Swiss capital, Bern.
A small whiff from the galley enhanced the gourmet’s phantasy as the airship is cruising over our federal capital. Extended salutations to the assembled Swiss parliament were given by distinctive forward bowing of the fuselage, you can do something like that with the zeppelin. Whispers of apologies were made to all residents of the federal parliament building for disturbing the quietness.
From Bern the zeppelin flew southwest towards Freiburg. From above, a gorgeous view of the city. The passengers enjoyed a spectacular view of the Jura Mountain range and later on also of the Savoy Alps. Finally the zeppelin reached Lausanne at Lake Geneva.
Just a small diversion of a few kilometers and a new paradise presents its glory to us on board, Lake Leman (note: Lake Geneva)! Speechless, immersed as we gaze in amazement this achievement of the Lord. In silence we thank Jesus for the divine grace that this can be watched and experienced.
But what is this, the engines are slowing down, the speed is reduced, oh well, we have duties to accomplish, duties of the postillion, because directly below are lots of people gathered, military, kids are moving around and even with the naked eye the postal officials can be recognized, we are only hovering, we are located over the Blécherette, the Lausanne airfield where our mail bags have to be delivered back to the ground. At one time, three yellow parachutes, each ballasted with a mail bag, leave the airship and float gently towards mother earth where they are received by deftly hands for transportation by mundane means, mostly by rail, to deliver the mail to the lucky addressees.
The whole maneuver took only a short moment, and with new roaring we move forward, towards the capital on the three hills, Lausanne, loudly cheered by the jovial population.
Zeppelin postcard written by a passenger on board the zeppelin over Lake Geneva. The card is addressed to Solothurn «...which we will reach in one hour».
The flight proceeded via Morges, Rolle and Nyon towards Geneva. A quick look revealed the cosmopolitan bustle of Geneva, the building site of the new palais of the League of Nations was recognized by the passengers. The airship made a turn-around and the return flight had started to the northeast. In the meantime, the table was set for lunch that was served between Geneva and Yverdon at Lake Neuchâtel.
Lunch zeppelin menue of the Vaduz Flight of LZ-127 GRAF ZEPPELIN from June 10, 1931.
Lunch was over by 1 p.m. and the travellers returned back to the windows. The airship was then located above Estavayer-le-Lac at the southern end of Lake Neuchâtel. Lordy, this world is so beautiful! Neuchâtel, at the northern end of the lake, came into sight while Lake Murten was recognizable on the other side of the airship. The zeppelin flight continued via Le Landeron and Lake Biel towards the former Zähringer cities Nidau and Biel and then straight forward via Grenchen and Biberist directly to Solothurn, the home town of the tour group on board.
Solothurn - A charming cityscape! All streets and places are busy with curious residents. On the houses and at the gardens improvised scripts wishing us a pleasant trip, flags are set up and someone is waving the white cross flag of the scaffolding of the St. Ursen tower, it is our beloved town pastor Michel, whose excitement urged him into these heights. A thousand thanks were given!
And now we are cruising amusingly and slowly over our home town, hovering at a height of 150 meters, shouting and saluting. Hei, this was devine pleasure! The visit lasted for almost half an hour and then we moved slowly eastwards.
From a garden of a contemporary settlement above Feldbrunnen, the Swiss flag was shining, surrounded by white flowers and framed with the wish «Frohe Fahrt!» (transl.: Happy Travel!) Passing the flagged cities Attisholz and Balsthal, the flight proceeded on a northern course to Liestal and Basel. The airship passed the Rhine River and was for a short moment over the German town of Lörrach. The flight then proceeded southwest via Rheinfelden, Brugg, Turgi and Baden and soon ...we are flying in a radiant loop above greater Zurich. A really magnificent view! Flying west, the airship passed the cities of Winterthur and Frauenfeld. Coffee and cake was served around 4 p.m. as in the far distance, slowly, Lake Constance (Bodensee) came into sight.
Two more loops and the landing maneuver begins. The dropped ropes were grabbed by the well trained ground crew and soon the tamed and bounded air giant is hovering over the ground. The zeppelin is rolled quickly into the airship hanger and we passengers have to say farewell to these hospitable and cozy premises. Disembarking was as fast as the boarding. For the passengers, a day full of enjoyment was ending. But what will last for ever is what we have seen and which strengthened and vitalized our love to our homeland.