Did you see the low-flying zeppelin cruising over Glendale yesterday at sunset? I did and was able to grab a few photos:
Glendale has an interesting dirigible history. In 1925, an inventor named Thomas B. Slate started an airship company at Glendale's Grand Central Air Terminal. His design was clad in corrugated metal and featured many -- perhaps too many -- technical innovations.
From Pat Grant's excellent article about Slate's airship in the Glendale News-Press:
“Selecting Glendale as the site of the Slate Aircraft Company in 1925, his futuristic portrayal of an efficient and comfortable means of passenger travel between Los Angeles and New York, as well as the profit potential of the venture, convinced many prominent Glendale residents to become stockholders. Intrigued by his commitment to name the first airship built "The City of Glendale," the City Council leased a large tract of land to Slate at the new Grand Central Air Terminal.
On Dec. 19, 1929, "The City of Glendale" was wheeled out of the hangar for its maiden cross-country flight; 2,000 requests for seats on the flight had been received. Thousands of spectators crowded the airfield in anticipation. But the fates would have it otherwise.
Minutes before departure, as hydrogen gas was being pumped aboard, the pilot noticed that one of the safety valves had stuck. The airship was being over-inflated. Police ordered the crowd back as rivets popped, the hull bulged and escaping gas was heard. No one was hurt.”
Because the airship was clad in metal, it was impossible to access the damaged area economically, and the stock market crash of 1929 meant that he was unable to secure any further investment in his dream.
Here are some photos of Slate's airship, "The City of Glendale":
The airship was designed so that passengers could be lowered to the ground via a gondola elevator system. Looks like an exciting ride:
Two years after the disastrous maiden flight, the airship was destroyed and sold for scrap.
From the News-Press:
For more on the Grand Central Air Terminal, read this excellent piece by Ron Dickson in Airport Journals:
From the News-Press:
"Slate, in the presence of newsreel cameras, climbed onto a catwalk high atop the hangar and, with tears in his eyes, dropped a 50-pound sandbag onto the hull. Rivets popped, ribs buckled and the hull of the airship crumpled to the floor. Slate's grand vision of building ever-bigger airships, capable of transporting 800 to 1,200 passengers, ended with the destruction of the "City of Glendale.""
Thomas B. Slate
I wrote about the future of the Grand Central Air Terminal building (which is now owned by Disney) here: