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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

This article was published in the Summer2010 issue of the ZEPPELIN POST JOURNAL .

The article is also available as pdf file .



Jürgen Kalkbrenner reports
To Chile and then to Peru


This commercial cover from Belgium was flown by the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin on the 9th 1933 South America Flight (continued as the Chicago Flight) and is correctly franked at the second weight unit (5 - 10 grams). There are certainly not many commercial zeppelin covers addressed to Lima, Peru.

Recibida por Correo Ordinario (transl. Received by ordinary mail).


A second look at the cover shows a purple cachet below the address field: «Recibida por Correo Ordinario», which means that this cover was received at Lima by ordinary surface mail. But why was an airmail cover flown on the Chicago Flight received by surface mail? One has to look at the postmarks on the reverse and one has to consult an atlas to understand the meaning of this cachet and the statement about the ordinary mail transportation.

The cover was carried by zeppelin as far as Recife. There the cover was transferred to Condor for the onward transportation via Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires, arrival there on Thursday, 19 October 1933. Pan American Airways flew the cover on Saturday, 21 October 1933 via Santiago de Chile to Arica, Chile. Scheduled arrival at Arica was Monday, 23 October 1933 at 10 a.m. The cover was offloaded at Arica, Chile as per the October 23, 1933, 10 a.m. arrival postmark.

Arica and Lima: Reverse of the cover with transit and arrival markings.


But why was the cover offloaded at Arica, Chile when it is addressed to Lima, Peru? The Pan American flight proceeded the same day from Arica to Lima. But the Lima arrival postmark on the cover is dated 30 October 1933, one week after the arrival at Arica. With these two dates it is clear that the cover was not flown from Arica to Lima but went by surface transportation.

Was the cover offloaded in Arica rather then in Lima by mistake? On the other hand, according to the German Postal Bulletin, the zeppelin only flew mail to South America that was addressed to certain specified South American countries. Chile was a permitted destination, but Peru was not. European airmail addressed to Peru was routed in those days via North America.

Arica is located in northern Chile, at the border of Peru. Arica was the most northern permitted destination for zeppelin mail in South America. Assuming that the Arica - Lima ground transportation was intended, who was responsible for that decision? Was it the decision of the Friedrichshafen post office to route the Lima-destined zeppelin mail only as far as Arica? Or was this done by Pan American Airways to point out that zeppelin mail is permitted only as far as Chile and not Peru?



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