May 23, 2014

On This Day In Aviation History

On May 23rd 1908, John Morrell prepared to conquer the skies in an airship of his own design. At 450 feet long, and filled with about 500,000 cubic feet of illuminating gas, the vessel was actually longer than any of the German Zeppelins that had flown. It was also a much more powerful ship as well, with five engines against the two in the German craft. 



In front of 15,000 citizens of Berkley California, the ship was made ready for flight. The crew of 15 boarded the vessel and manned their stations. 4 photographers were along as well to record the historic event.  With everything secured, the mooring lines were set loose.



 Morrell and his crew then sailed into aviation history.

Not only was this the largest airship built up to that time, the 20 people it took aloft were by FAR the largest number of people that had flown in single aircraft. One might note that 15 + 4 does not equal 20, but that is because the ship had another aviation first. An Australian aeronaut, a Captain Penfold, had somehow managed to sneak on board,  conceal himself (somehow) and thus became the first stowaway in the history of powered aviation!





The mighty dirigible began to cruise over the city at an altitude of 300 feet. The airship undulated regally for a while, as Morrell and his crew began to perform maneuvering tests. However,  as if to reinforce the unfortunate imagery,  after an unsatisfyingly short time, there emanated from the bow, an  Earth shattering "POP!". 





The forward end of the envelope burst open and deflated, beginning a rapid decent, while the stern remained aloft. Those in the bow had a remarkably gentle landing....for a brief moment....






...until the rest of the crew...and the engines fell  on them as the gangway became vertical. The engines equipment and crew coalesced into a modernist sculpture  of metal, blood, expletives and compound fractures.



Miraculously, although there were a LOT of broken bones, no one was actually killed. Morrell himself sustained a dislocated hip, broken leg and internal injuries. Capt. Penfold , the stowaway, was drug from the wreck with two broken ankles. 



The stern remained inflated and partially aloft for some time as a mute, Freudian testimony to the truly epic level of ignominy that Morrill and his intrepid crew of dildonauts had achieved....on this day in aviation history.

 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 04:14 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 402 words, total size 4 kb.

<< Page 1 of 1 >>
28kb generated in CPU 0.03, elapsed 0.0272 seconds.
65 queries taking 0.0139 seconds, 216 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.