THE TRANSATLANTIC VOYAGE OF R 34
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Here is something a little different from the July 1919 issue of Flight Magazine.. Copied from the archives of Flight Global.
It deals with the forst Atlantic Crossing of the Airship R-34, to include the actual flight logs.. These articles are really interesting.
THE Transatlantic voyage has at last been accomplished by an airship. The R 34 has arrived at Mineola, Long Island,
under her own power, after being in the air for 108 hours 12 minutes. In connection with this splendid achievement
it may be of interest to recall an unsuccessful attempt made nine years ago.
A Previous Attempt
We are referring to the Wellman airship " America," on which Mr. Walter Wellman intended to make the trip from
Atlantic City to London. It may be remembered that previously Mr. Wellman had made an attempt to reach the
North Pole by airship, the venture, however, being unsuccessful, and the airship coming to grief. The rebuilt
airship, " America I , " had a length of 228 ft., and a maximum diameter of 52 ft., while her capacity was about 350,000
cub. ft. The power plant consisted of two engines of 80 h.p. each. A smaller engine of about 10 h.p. supplied air to the
ballonets. The two engines were mounted transversely in the keel of the airship, each driving two airscrews through
bevel gearing. The screws of the aft engine were of the swiveling type to allow of steering in a vertical plane and also
to give direst lift or anti-lift when the airship was about to ascend or alight. There was a long keel extending nearly
the whole length of the envelope, and in this enclosed keel were the crew's quarters. Slung underneath the keel was
a lifeboat stocked with "provisions. The most novel feature
Brig.-Gen. E. M. Maitland, C.M.G., D.S.O.
of the Wellman airship was the equilibrator, which was intended to keep the airship at a more or less constant altitude,
and which consisted of 30 cylindrical tanks strung together on a steel cable of some 330 ft. length. As the airship
tended to rise she had to support an increased length of this cable, while if she lost lift she descended and a greater proportion
of the cable became submerged in and supported by the sea. Ingenious as this arrangement was, it ultimately
proved to be the undoing of the airship. After waiting for favorable weather Mr. Wellman decided
to make a start, and at 8 o'clock on the morning of Saturday, October 15, 1910, he announced that everything was ready
and that the conditions were favorable. He, therefore, climbed aboard with his companions, including Capt. Murray
Simon (pilot), Mr. Melvin Vaniman (engineer), Mr. Jack Irwin (wireless operator), and Messrs. F . B. Aubrey and Louis
Lond (mechanics), and in the presence of an enthusiastic crowd the " America II " rose from her moorings at Atlantic
City and headed out to sea where she was soon lost in a thick fog. During the day numerous messages were received
by wireless from the airship, and everything seemed to indicate t h a t good progress was being made. On the following
(Sunday) morning the airship was reported off Nantucket, and Mr. Wellman's message was " Going O.K." After that
no further news was heard of the airship until the Tuesday afternoon, and there was naturally a great deal of anxiety
felt at the absence of news. Finally on the Tuesday afternoon, a wireless message was received from the R.M.S. Trent
saying that in answer to a distress signal by the airship the Trent had stood by and had rescued the crew. When it was
found that the equilibrator, from which so much had been expected, prevented the airship from being steered properly
and also gave rise to serious vibration on account of being dragged through a rising sea, preparations were made for
launching the lifeboat, and after the airship had been brought down close to the sea the crew got into the boat and were
later picked up by the Trent. The airship after being relieved of so much weight, rose to a great height and soon disappeared.
Thus ended this plucky attempt to cross the Atlantic by airship, and it has remained for a British airship, manned
by a British crew, to accomplish this feat.
The Successful Voyage of R 34
After many hours of anxiety, chiefly caused by the knowledge that the fuel supply must be running low, the R 34
and her gallant crew arrived at their destination at 3 p.m. (British Summer Time) on Sunday last, July 6. The landing
of the airship is thus described by The Times special correspondent" With the band playing ' God Save the King' and
thousands of spectators standing bareheaded, the R 34 dipped ground wards and dropped anchor at 10 o'clock this
morning,* after a voyage which up to late last night even experts feared might end in disaster.
" It was at 8.55 that the news that the giant airship was overhead brought the thousand inhabitants of Garden City
and Mineola into the streets to see the R 34 slowly circling overhead as she maneuvered herself in position for landing.
The number was clearly visible on her side, and her great bulk was gleaming in the morning sunshine. *
" Almost immediately streams of motor-cars appeared on the roads leading to the aerodrome. A few minutes later
a shout went up as a tiny object detached itself from the rear gondola and floated earthwards. It was Maj. John Pritchard,
who had jumped out in a parachute to give landing instructions. He came to earth in front of the grand stand and was
taken to headquarters on a motor-cycle. " Meanwhile the R 34 continued to circle above Roosevelt
Field. Soon she released a quantity of ballast from the stem her nose dipped, and, shutting off the forward propeller^
she came slowly earthwards. At a height of about 300 feet dropped an anchor, which the landing parties seized
and began to haul her to earth. At one minute past ten
the first gondola touched the ground, the long and perilous voyage over. She had just enough petrol left to have enabled
her to fly 40 minutes more. " One of the first to descend from the forward car was
Gen. Maitland, who was greeted by officers of the United States Air Service, headed by Gen. Minoher, Director of
Aeronautics. Gen. Maitland was smiling and cheerful, though he appeared tired. 'We are all pretty fit,' he said,
when asked how he had fared on the journey. Describing the voyage, he said they had been much worried by winds,
' and last night two thunderstorms shook us up badly,' he added. The fog troubled them little. The total time of
the voyage was 108 hours 12 minutes, it was a non-stop flight, made entirely under their own power. As soon as the landing
parties had made the airship fast, the crew descended to solid ground and immediately began to stretch their legs.
Hot coffee, food, soap and water were their immediate needs, and these were supplied on the spot in plenty.
" The ship is absolutely none the worse for her journey and suffered no damage in landing. It is hard when looking
at her to realize that she has just completed so v a s t a journey and will in 48 hours calmly undertake another.
until her arrival at Mineola at 3 p.m.
THE LOGJuly 5 :—
(B.S.T.) on Sunday,
Wednesday, July 2,
5.30 a.m.—The British airship R 34 passed over Rathlin'
county Antrim, at 4.30 G.M.T. (5.30 British summer time)
9.0 a.m.—The R 34 a t 8 a.m. G.M.T. (9 a.m. British summer
time), was 10 deg. 40 min. W., 55 deg. 20 min. N. The
airship was then taking a course due West at a speed of
11.5 a.m.—Going through thick fog. Everything doing
well. Time of dispatch 10.05 G.M.T. (n.5 a.m. British
1.0 p.m.—The R 34 is reported by wireless to have reached
at 1 p.m. to-day (British summer time) the position 55 deg.
07 N.-, 14 deg. 50 W. She was then proceeding at a speed
of 32 knots in a thick fog. The officer in charge reports
3.15 p.m.—A wireless message from the R 34, at 3.15 p.m.
(British summer time), gave the airship's position as 53 deg.
50 N., 17 deg. 50 W. The course then being taken was
West true and the speed 31 knots.
5.30 p.m.—The following signal has been received from
CROSSING" Her appearance this morning took every one by surprise after a night of anxious waiting. The last messages received had reported her in distress over the sea, using up her last few gallons of petrol. Late last night 200 men with supplies
of petrol and hydrogen were dispatched from here by special train to Montauk, at the northern extremity of Long Island,
in case the ship succeeded in reaching there. However, she sailed calmly into sight early this morning and made a
successful landing as the climax of a triumphal voyage. " Now she lies at rest in the middle of Roosevelt Field,
while motor cars from every part of Long Island disgorge thousands of people who have come to behold the latest
wonder of the world." On the accompanying sketch map, prepared from the
chart published in The Times of July 7, the various positions of the R 34 as indicated by wireless messages are shown.
In order to render the map more complete we have added the approximate course which the airship proposes to follow
on her return journey. It is hoped that on this she will pass over London on her way back to her starting point at East
Fortune. The following messages from the airship herself, and from ships and wireless stations, form a very good record
of the progress of the R 34 from the time she started from East Fortune (on July 2, 2.38 a.m. British summer time)
R 34 : " Position at 4.30 p.m. G.M.T., 53.50 N., 18 W. ;all well."
The Air Ministry adds : " The position given in the previous signal is probably incorrect and may possibly have been wrongly transmitted. The position indicated in the above message is very probably correct."
7.23 p.m.—The Air Ministry announced at 6.23 p.m. G.M.T. * " In answer to a wireless message sent from East
Fortune this afternoon to R 34, asking whether she was getting sufficient weather reports, the following reply has been received
: ' Yes, thanks. We are in touch with Ponta Delgada
(Azores), with St. John's (N.F.), and with Clifden,
8.00 p.m.—The ss. Suffem reports having sighted the R 34
at 7 p.m. Greenwich mean time in the position 54.30 North,
18.20 West, steering South, So.00 West true.
9.15 p.m.—The Air Ministry announces that Maj. Scott
reported that at 8.15 p.m. G.M.T. R 34 was flying westward
at 30 knots and at a height of 2,000 ft.
UNTIMED.—British ship, code signed G.B.R. (name unknown)
reports :—" Following message from R 34 : ' Flying
at 2,000 ft. ; brilliant sunshine above clouds. Give me your
position.' Position g;ven 54.30 N., 18.20 W. Answer:
' Arrive about Friday morning. Report speaking us.' "
We gaze through our glasses in her direction, but she is just
over the horizon.
" 2 p.m.—Slight trouble in the starboard amidships engine
—cracked cylinder water-jacket. Shorter made a quick
and safe repair with a piece of copper sheeting, and the entire
supply of the ship's chewing-gum, which had to be chewed
by himself and two engineers before being applied.
" 4.30 p.m.—Now on the Canadian summer route for
steamers bound for the St. Lawrence, via Belleisle Strait
and the well-known Labrador current. There are already
indications of these cold currents in the fog which hangs
immediately above the surface of the water. Scott and Cook
spend much time at the chart table, measuring angles of drift
and calculating the course. Aerial navigation is more complicated
than navigation on the surface of the sea, but there
is no reason why, when we know more about the air and its
peculiarities, it should not be made just as accurate.
" 5 p.m.—Harris unwisely shuts his hand in the door of
the wireless cabin. Injury painful, but not serious. Flow
of language not audible to me, as forward engine happened
to be running.
" 6.30 p.m.—We are gradually getting further and further
into the shallow depression reported yesterday coming from
the South Atlantic. For the last four hours the sea has been
rising. Now the wind is south-south-east, velocity 45 miles
an hour. Visibility only half a mile. Very rough sea.
Torrents of rain. Despite this the ship is remarkably steady.
At 8 p.m. Scott decided to climb right through it, and we
eventually came out over the top of it at 3,400 ft.
" 8.30 p.m.—We now passed the centre of the depression,
exactly as Harris foretold. Rain has ceased, and we are
travelling quite smoothly again. To the west the clouds
have lifted, and we see an extraordinarily interesting sky,
black, angry clouds giving place to clouds of grey mouse color,
then bright salmon-pink and a clear sky, changing
lower down on the horizon to darker clouds, with a rich
golden lining as the sun sinks low.
"The surface of the sea is invisible, being covered with
a fluffy grey feather-bed of clouds slightly undulating and
extending as far as t h e eye can reach. The moon is just
breaking through the black clouds immediately above it.
East and west the clouds are black, owing to the ominous
depression from which we have just emerged, while away
to the south the cloud-bed over which we are passing seems
to end suddenly and merge into the horizon. We are getting
some valuable meteorological data on this flight without
doubt, and each fresh phenomenon as it appears is instantly
explained by the ever-alert Harris, who has a profound
knowledge of his subject.
" 9 p.m.—One of the engineers has reported sick. He
complains of feverishness. A stowaway has just been discovered,
a cat smuggled on board by one of the crew for luck.
It is very remarkable that nearly every member of the crew
has a mascot of some description, from an engineer officer
who wears one of his wife's silk stockings as a muffler, to Maj.
Scott, the captain, with a small gold charm called '' Thumbs
" 4.30 a.m., Friday, July 4.—-A wonderful sunrise, the
different colors being the softest imaginable—just like a
" 7 a.m.—Height 1,000 ft. Bright blue sky above,' a thin
fog partly obscuring the sea beneath. Sea moderate, but
a big swell.
" The fog bank appears to end abruptly 10 miles towards
the south, where the sea appears clear of fog. It is a very
deep blue, and standing out conspicuously is an enormous
white iceberg. The sun is shining brightly on its steep
sides, and we estimate roughly that it is 300 yards square
and 150 ft. high. Another big iceberg is seen in the dim
distance. These are the only two objects of any kind we
have yet seen on this journey.
" 8.15 a.m.—The fog is still clinging to the surface of the
water. The water is evidently very cold. There is an extraordinary
wave-like appearance in the clouds, which are
rolling up from the north. Underneath, on the port beam,
there is a long stretch of clear, blue sea, sandwiched between
wide expanses of fog on either side, looking just like a blue
river flowing between two wide, snow-covered banks. This
is caused by a warm current of water which prevents the
cloud from hanging over it. This illustrates the rule that
over cold currents of water the clouds cling to the surface.
" 9.0 a.m.—We are now over a large ice-field, and the sea
is full of enormous pieces of ice, small bergs in themselves.
The ice is blue-green under the water, with frozen snow on
" 1.50 p.m.—Land in sight, first spotted by Scott on the
starboard beam. A few small rocky islands were visible
for a minute or two through the clouds, but were instantly
swallowed up again. Altered course to the south-west to
have a closer look. Eventually made them out to be the
north-west coast-line of Trinity Bay. Our time from Rathlin
Island, the last piece of land we crossed off the shore of the
north coast of Ireland, to the north coast of Trinity Bay,
Newfoundland, is exactly 59 hours.
" 2.30 p.m.—We are crossing Newfoundland at 1,500 ft.
in thick fog, which gradually clears as we get further inland.
Message from St. John's to say Raynham has gone up in
his machine to greet us. We replied, giving our position.
" 3 p.m.—Again enveloped dense fog. Message from
Sentinel giving us our position. We are making good
38 to 40 knots, and heading for Fortune Harbor.
" 4.30 p.m.—We passed out of Fortune Harbor with its
magnificent scenery into azure blue sea dotted with little
white sailing ships, and are now over the two French islands
of Miquelon and St. Pierre, steering a course for Halifax.
"7-4S P-m-—Passed over tramp steamer Seal, bound for
Sydney (Nova Scotia), from St. John's, the first we have seen.
"8.15 p.m.—Clear weather, Sea moderate. Making good
30 miles per hour with three engines. The northern point of
Cape Breton Island is just coming into s i g h t ; lighthouse with
" Saturday, July 5, 2.30 a.m.—Very dark, clear night.
The lights of Whitehaven show brightly on the starboard side,
and we can make out the lights of a steamer passing us to the
east. Strong head wind against us. Making no appreciable
" 7.0 a.m.—Scott decided to turn inland to avoid the southwest
wind barrage blowing up the coast. Crossed coast at
Goose Island and Country Harbor. Miles and miles of
endless forests. Here and there a clearing with a hut or two,
and a few cows and an acre or so of cultivated land. Any
number of small rivers and lakes.
" 10.20 a.m.—We came down as low as 800 ft. over huge
forests of lovely resinous small pines, the scent of which we
inhale with delight. The stacked tree-trunks look like bunches
of asparagus from above put end up. We saw a big brown
eagle. We all agree that we must come to Nova Scotia for
shooting and fishing.
" 12.30 p.m.—Lunch. The petrol question has become
distinctly serious. Shotter has been totaling up the available
petrol resources with anxious care. We have 500 miles to go
to New York, and, if we do not get any wind or bad weather
against us, we will do it all right with two engines, assisted
occasionally by the third engine. We can't afford to run all
five at once owing to the petrol consumption. Lieut.-Com.
Lansdowne, of the United States Naval Airship Service, sends
a signal on behalf of ' R.34 ' to the United States authorities
at Washington and Boston to send destroyer to take us in tow
in case we should run out of petrol during the night.
" The idea is that we could then be towed by a destroyer
during the hours of darkness and at dawn cast off and fly to
Long Island under our own power. Let us hope that this
won't be necessary. It is now rainy and foggy, which is the
kind of weather that suits us now, as rain generally means no
" 3.00 p.m.—Passed Haute Island in the Bay of Fundy.
" 3-3° P-ni.—For some little while past there have been
distinct evidences of electrical disturbances. Atmospherics
are very bad. A severe thunderstorm was seen over the
Canadian coast moving south down the coast. Major Scott
turned east off his course to dodge the storm, putting on all
engines. In this, fortunately for us, he was successful, and
we passed through the outer edge of the storm. We had
a very bad time indeed, and it is quite the worst experience
from the weather point of view that any of us has yet experienced
in the air. During the storm some wonderful specimens
of cumulo-stratus were seen and photographed. These
clouds always indicate a very highly perturbed state of the
atmosphere, and look rather like a bunch of grapes.
" 7-3° p.m.—We are now in clear weather again, and have
left Nova Scotia well behind, heading straight for New York.
A particularly fine electrical disturbance at time of sunset.
"9.30 p.m.—Another thunderstorm. Again we have to
change our course to avoid it, and every gallon of petrol worth
its weight in gold. It almost breaks our hearts to have to
lengthen the distance to get clear of these storms.
" July 6, 4 a.m.—Sighted American coast at Chatham.
"4.25 a.m.—Are over the south end of Mahoney Island.
Scott wondering whether petrol will allow him to go to New
York o r whether it would not be more prudent to land at
" 5.30 a.m.—Passing Martha's Vineyard, a lovely island,
beautifully wooded. Scott decided to the landing at Hazelhurst Field, that there would
be enough petrol to fly over New York. Very sad, but there
is no alternative. "We will fly over New York on the start of
our return journey on Tuesday night, weather and circumstances
"Landing 1.54 p.m., Greenwich mean time, or 9.54 a.m.
United States summer time, at Hazelhurst Field, Long Island.
" Total time entire voyage 108 hours 12 mins."
While General Maitland's log briefly indicates the progress of " R.34 " from time to time, it will be of interest to record
what in the meantime took place ashore, where great anxiety was naturally felt for the safety of the airship and as to whether
or not she would have sufficient petrol to reach Mineola. The Times correspondent at Mineola describes what was taking
place there during the last part of the journey and says :— " The ' R.34 ' landed at Mineola at 9.55 this morning under
her own power.
" The landing came as a relief after a night of anxious waiting. Yesterday evening there was real anxiety at Roosevelt
Field. Dispatches came in that the airship was cruising slowly south-west along the Canadian coast into head winds.
Dismal pictures flitted into the watchers' minds of possibilities of her running with none too much petrol to spare into thunderstorms brought on by the great heat under which this part of the Continent is sweltering. The vicious currents at the Bay of Fundy were anxiously canvassed. " The climax came when a message was received at 9.36
p.m. by one of the Navy wireless stations, saying ' Rush help, making for Boston, from Bay of Fundy at 23 knots. Come
quickly. Gasolene giving out. Send ship.' At 11 p.m. anxiety was relieved by another message by way of the Ottercliff
wireless station which, though it indicated a great short-, age of gasolene, showed that there was good hope of landing.
The message ran :—Following received from ' R.34 ' :— ' Position " R.34 " 67.30 W., 43.20 N. ; course S.W. by S.
by magnetic compass ; flying 1,500 ft. Come and meet us ; making for Boston. Rush; very short of gasolene.'
" U . S . Naval Help " Could a landing be made near Boston was then the question
uppermost in everybody's mind. Its answer was not reassuring, and the anxious vigil continued. It was, however,
assuaged somewhat by the knowledge that the American Navy was doing everything possible. As soon as the two
messages given above were received Admiral Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, sent out instructions.
" A message from the Ottercliff station filed at 11.30 p.m. read as follows :—'U.S. Bancroft trailing the " R . 3 4 . "'
Then came the news that another destroyer had seen the airship. ' U.S. Stevens at 11.3 p.m., Washington time, reports
position 45.50 N., 66,50 W.' Orders were sent from Washington to the Stevens to proceed at full speed toward the
dirigible's position, trying to establish radio communication.
Early this morning this message came from the Bancroft showing that the ' R.34 ' might be able to reach Chatham.
It read :—' To Commandant, First Naval District : position 41.52 N., 58.04 W., headed for Chatham at 23 or 24 knots.
" R.34 " thinks fuel will hold.' Later the Ottercliff Naval Station reported this intercepted message from the Bancroft
to ' R.34 ' :—' We see you are heading Jor Chatham, course 230 deg., speed 23 knots. Keep me informed your movement.'
Finallv at 2 a.m. came this message from the airship :—' Will land Montauk. Will report later.' The message was received
with great relief. The spot at Chatham on Cape Cod, near Boston, where Major Scott had thought of landing, though a
dirigible base, is not fitted for large ships, and it was cleared that it might be impossible to berth her there. Had Maj.
Scott put in there, he would have done so with the intention,
according to a message received from him, of fuelling, and proceeding to Mincola, possibly to-day.
A Dangerous Landing Place " The decision to go on to Montauk Point, on the eastern
end of Long Island, was due to messages from Mineola to
Major Scott pointing out the danger of Chatham and the comparative advantages of Montauk, where there are ample
supplies of hydrogen and fuel, a good landing place, and plenty of vessels about in case of an enforced descent into the sea.
I t was also accessible for the men who had been trained to handle ' R.34 ' on landing-—an important consideration.
Indeed, news that Chatham or Boston might be the landing place had caused something like a panic among those responsible
for the safe berthing of the ship, some of whom set out, on hearing the news, to rush as fast as possible to
Boston. " It was with the idea that the landing would be a t Montauk
whither a number of men were hurriedly despatched to manage the landing, that such of the anxious watchers as
slept last night went to bed. They were relieved, but not happy, for great uncertainty could not but surround a landing
at an unexpected place. It is clear that ' R.34 ' must have had a very bad time of it on the last lap. She had two days
and nights of dodging storms and fogs over one of the most inhospitable of seas. She was running short of hydrogen and
of fuel. Her long-distance wireless refused to work at the end. Nevertheless, as her messages show, she was determined
to stick it out to the end."Messages of Congratulation His Majesty sent the following message of congratulation
to Officer Commanding " R.34 " through General Sir F. H.Sykes :—
" I am commanded by His Majesty to transmit the following
message to you : " Heartiest congratulations to yourself and crew of ' R.34 ' on your splendid achievement, and best wishes for a safe return.Your flight marks the beginning of an era in which theEnglish-speaking peoples, already drawn together in war, will
be even more closely united in peace." The following messages of congratulation were also sent:—
From Mr. Winston Churchill.—" All congratulations to Major Scott and his gallant companions on their conquest of
the Atlantic. Henceforward East Fortune and Long Island are signal names in the history of flying. May the return be
as prosperous as the outward journey."From General Sykes, Controller-General of Civil Aviation.— " Heartiest congratulations on your successful voyage and sincere wishes for safe return. I sincerely hope the flight will
be the forerunner of Transatlantic commercial traffic by air." From the Air Council.—"The Air Council desire that their
appreciation be conveyed to Brig.-Gen. Maitland, Maj. Scott and officers and crew of " R.34 " of the manner in which they
successfully crossed the Atlantic and dealt with subsequent difficulties."
From the Air Staff.-—"Well done. We fully appreciate your difficulties since the crossing to Newfoundland was actually
completed. Further congratulations on establishing a world record for time in the air.—GROVES, Brig.-Gen., Deputy-Chief
Air Staff." From the Chief of the Air Staff.—" In the name of all ranks
of the R.A.F. I desire to express our appreciation of your feat. Airmen can realise your airmanship, navigation, and
endurance.-—TRENCHARD, Maj.-Gen., Chief of Air Staff.'' The R e t u r n J o u r n ey
At the time of writing no definite decision has, apparently, been made regarding the time of the start of the return
journey, which was at one time thought to be taking place during Tuesday last (July 8), but July 9 or 10 is
probably nearer the date. However, according to reports from Mineola the airship nearly came to grief during the early
morning of July 7, when, it is reported, owing to the expansion of the gas the airship became almost unmanageable, and at
times lifted the men of the landing party off their feet. Finally the strain grew so great that the mooring ring in the nose
of the airship broke, and the nose shot up into the air, the airship being now anchored by the aft gondola only. While
the airship was in this precarious position some members of the crew succeeded in climbing into the airship through the
aft gondola, making their way into the nose whence a rope was lowered and the landing party succeeded in bringing the
airship into a horizontal position once more. When the mooring ring tore away some slight damage was done to the nose
of " R.34 " but this is not thought to be serious, as the ballonets are not damaged. It will, however, take come little
time to make the necessary repairs, although naturally the commander of the airship is anxious to get away as soon as
possible, which will probably be during Wednesday. The Lessons Learned from the T r a n s a t l a n t i c Voyage of
" R 3 4 " In our Editorial comment we are referring to the lessons that are to be learned from this great trip of the " R.34,"
and the effect which it will have on the future development of commercial airship aviation. Suffice it to publish here some
of the deductions that have been made by members of the crew of " R.34 " and by others equally qualified to judge.
Maj. Pritchard, who by the way, arrived some little time ahead of his fellow travelers by the expedient of dropping in
a parachute in order to be on the spot to superintend the landing operations, expressed the following views to a correspondent
of The Times :— " Personally, all this sort of howl and congratulations seem to me out of place. This journey in itself is not so wonderful. The thing to praise is the past work which has made it possible." He confessed a moment later that he and his brother
officers were all so tremendously absorbed in technical questions during the journey and so keenly interested in their
solution, that they had no interest left for the purely human aspect of their adventures. He continued :—
" What I want to emphasize first is that airships are supreme for long-distance travel by air. Aeroplanes are for
quick, short flights, and there is no competition between the two, any more than there is between an Atlantic liner and a
cross-Channel boat. If you want a really reliable long-range air vessel it must be a rigid ship. In the flight we have just
completed the flight was tremendously longer than any ever attempted before by a heavier-than-air machine. It must be
remembered that we took only 59 hours to do the purely Atlantic part of the trip, though the whole flight here has
occupied 108 hours. Of our difficulties I will speak to you in a minute, but first I want to point out t h a t our return journey
will be infinitely easier. By air, for the purposes of airship travel, America, figuratively speaking, is a thousand miles
nearer England than England is to America. Winds are invariably against the traveller to America, and in his favour
going from America." A Reuter message says that shortly after the landing the
officers and crew of " R.34 " had luncheon with American Army and Navy officers, when Gen. Maitland predicted that
within a few years airships five times as big as the " R.34 " with a lifting capacity of 200 tons, would not only cross the
Atlantic regularly but would establish trade routes in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific.
Maj. Cooke, the navigating officer, said : " The weather situation in the Atlantic must be investigated thoroughly
before trans-oceanic travel by air between England and America can be made safe and practicable. With the limited
information we now have regarding the weather conditions, Transatlantic travel is highly dangerous. I consider it
almost a miracle that we completed the trip successfully after what we went through last night."
Lieut.-Com. Lansdowne, U.S.N., observer on board the" R.34," whose story of the trip is printed in the Daily
Telegraph, makes the following statement :— " I thoroughly believe that the future of the airship for
commercial aviation has been established. I make this assertion from my personal observation aboard the ' R.34,'
d I earnestly hope that America in this matter will keep pace with our progressive cousins across the sea. Such
co-ordination, I firmly believe, will augment, if that is possible, the close relationship that binds the two great English-speaking
THE RETURN VOYAGE OF R 34
Maj. G. H. Scott, R.A.F., commander of R 34.
THE R 34 now has the double journey across the Atlantic to her credit. She made a somewhat hurried start, as it was
reported that a storm was approaching from the Great Lakes; she arrived safely at Pulham, the airship station
in Norfolk, early on Sunday morning after a voyage which had taken 75 hours and three minutes.
The Air Ministry state that the airship was first sighted on the north side of Pulham at 5,56 G.M.T., her position
being about 15 miles away, and her course almost due east. Turning south towards the Airship Station she circled over
Pulham about 6.22, flying at 800 ft., landing safely at 6.56 G.M.T., exactly an hour after she was first sighted.
The landing at Pulham was thus described by The Times correspondent:— " The British airship R 34 landed at Pulham aerodrome, 14 miles from Norwich, this morning a few minutes after
8 o'clock. She had accomplished the flight from Long Island in 7; hours three minutes.
" We began to watch for the airship at 6 o'clock. Reports through the night indicated that that was the earliest moment
at which she could arrive. Towards 4.30 the R 34 had been reported over Derby, and it was nearly 7 o'clock when we saw
her at last coming out of the mist. " She might have been a cloud herself in shape and hue and seemingly slow movement. She was creeping out of the north-west, flying at r,5oo ft., and not until she was almost overhead could a sound be heard from her. At a quarter to 6 parties of men had brought out the guide ropes and placed them in readiness on the ground. As the airship began to
circle the aerodrome the crews were mustered and took up their positions on the ropes, forming a lane. The airship
dipped and headed for it, but rose again suddenly and swept overhead as if unwilling at last to come to earth.
" There was a rapid exchange of signals by flashlight between Maj. Scott and a signal party on the ground respecting
barometric pressure and then the R 34 swung round again, dived rapidly towards the ground, and flattened out. A
rope was flung out from her; a score of orders were shouted through a megaphone ; cable ends were joined ; and in five
minutes the landing party had the airship under control and were hauling her nearer and nearer to the ground.
" The sudden ejection of her water ballast and the emptying of her water storage tanks occurred at the moment when the
R.A.F. band, much depleted by week-end leave, struck up " See the Conquering Hero comes.' A moment later the
airship was being walked by the guide rope crews, still directed through Capt. R. A. Cochrane's megaphone, to her shed,
and Gen. Maitland leant from the forward gondola and handed me a letter addressed to the Editor of The Times, the first
to be delivered on English soil from an airship. Upon the envelope was written, ' By kindness of the officers of R 34.'
" Not for a second did the airship get out of control. Steadily and without a hitch she was moved across the wide
meadow, always entirely in hand. Then her bow was turned
and stern first she was brought into the shed and moored." Gen. Maitland, who was wearing the blue uniform of
the R.A.F., was the first to disembark. He was followed by Maj. Scott. They were met by Lieut.-Col. Boothby,
commanding the air station, and the officers and crew were taken to the camp for breakfast. Pulham aerodrome is vast
and flat. " The R 34 came home to-day on four of her five engines,
and finished the flight with 1,000 gallons of petrol to spare. Half-way across the Atlantic the engine in her stern gondola
went wholly out of commission, the connecting-rod breaking and going clean through the crank-case. Otherwise she shows
little sign of the severity of the test she has just undergone. The repairs to her envelope can be detected, but the damage
itself was trifling." The story of the progress across the Atlantic is thus told in Gen. Maitland's log, which was issued by the Air Ministryan hour after the airship landed :—
The Log of the R 34
It is a dark night, and a gusty wind is blowing from the
S.W., strength about 30 m.p.h. We steer straight for New
York, and stop, as promised, to fly over the city before heading
out into the Atlantic. It was an extremely good " get-away,"
considering the gusty wind and difficult conditions generally.
We find we have 4,600 gallons of petrol for the return journey.
New York at midnight looks wonderful from above. Miles
and miles of tiny bright twinkly lights—a veritable fairyland.
The searchlights at first make a very unsuccessful
search for us, but finally get us fair and square. We are
over Fifth Avenue. The Times Square and Broadway
present a remarkable sight. We distinctly see thousands
of upturned faces in spite of the early hour, 1 o'clock in the
morning, and the whole scene is lit by the gigantic electrical
signs which seem to concentrate about this point. One
in particular, the Overland Tower, illustrates the enormous importance
of aerial advertisement. From 2,000 ft. above
we see its wheel revolving and the mist rising in a cloud
behind it, presumably an illustration of its speed.
The air over New York feels very disturbed, partly owing
to the approaching cyclone from the Great Lakes, of which
we have already had warning, and partly also to the heat
rising upwards from the city itself. The airship, however,
rides out very steadily under the circumstances.
July 10, Thursday, 1.10 a.m.—We head for home with
3,000 miles of sea between us and our Scottish base. The
wind is now well behind, and our speed makes good ; it is
estimated at 65 knots, or nearly 74 m.p.h. Our weather
at time of starting is deoidedly favourable for a flight from
America to England. There is a depression west of Newfoundland,
and then a large one centred to the north of
Iceland ; also an anti-cyclone over the East Atlantic and
Great Britain. The inference from the above is that a strong
south-west or west wind will prevail over the greater part
of the Atlantic. We have got away on the outskirts of the
depression which is central west of Newloundland, and are
getting the full benefit of the 35-knot south-west wind on its
At this speed we are travelling considerably faster than
the depression, which is probably moving eastward at about
35 m.p.h., and it may well be that we shall run right out of
it by the time we reach mid-Atlantic. We then expect (it may be only a pious hope)
to get into touch with the still
bigger depression centred to the north of Iceland and benefit
by the south-west wind which we ought to find on its southerly
2.17 a.m.—We are crossing the American coast with four
out of our five engines running, the fifth engine resting.
Some hot coffee from the Thermos flask presented us by our
kind American friends is very nice and warming.
9.15 a.m.—We have already covered 430 miles irom New
York and are going strong. Our mails are now sorted and
this takes some time. We find we have quite a large collection
of parcels and letters of all descriptions, including some for
H.M. the King, the Foreign Office, Admiralty, Postmaster-
General, and a large number of copies of the Public Ledger
for the Editor of The Times. This journey, we hope, will
prove the fastest newspaper delivery between New York
and London yet accomplished, and will be the forerunner
of regular interchanges of mails between East and West—
the Old World and the New.
10.45 a.m. G.M.T.—We are now making good 72 knots, or
83 m.p.h., on four engines. The forward engine stopped.
If all goes well Maj. Scott will go straight for London, and we
will see how long it takes us to cross the Atlantic from Broadway,
New York, to Piccadilly Circus, London—from the
heart of one capital to the heart of the other.
10.45 a.m.—Cooke asleep under the dining-room table.
(Note.—This may take our thoughts back to the days of our
ancestors, but the cause of this slip and the position selected
are from quite a different reason.)
12 noon.—Lunch : Cold Bologna sausage and pickles and
stewed pineapple, and a ration of rum. This latter was much
appreciated as the weather had turned much colder. The
conversation turned on the subject of obtaining secondary
meteorological information in the Atlantic. Scott, Greenland,
Luck and Harris all agree that one good method of
getting information at small cost would be to equip all cable
repair ships with a meteorological observer and a suitable
outfit of kites and instruments. These cable repair ships
work in all parts of the world, and are often at sea for days
at a time. Moreover, the cable routes are ready in every case
on the shortest and most direct route between the countries
they link up.
1.5 p.m.—We have averaged 56.3 knots ever since leaving
Broadway. Weather fine, visibility 15.20 miles. Wind
40 knots S.S.W., sea very rough. It is difficult from above
to measure the height of the waves, but it is easy to see that
in a very heavy sea like this one surface ships would be having
an extremely bad time. Up here we are as steady as a rock,
and unless one looks out of the windows one would hardly
realise we were travelling at all.
Lieut.-Col. Hemsley, U.S. Army Aviation Department,
is steering, and is taking opposite watch with Pritchard,
while Luck has relieved Greenland in the fore car, Corpl.
Burgess being on the elevators. We are in very good wireless
communication with Sable Island, and many messages
wishing us success are received from America and Canada.
We send our grateful thanks to the U.S. naval and military
authorities for their very efficient and kind assistance in looking
after the airship at Mineola during four days of difficult and
unpleasant weather conditions.
4.50 p.m.—Position 42.15 N., 54.05 W. ; course 140 deg.
steered, n o deg. made good, 86 deg. true, 48 knots. We
have covered 900 miles from New York, 16 hours, and are
1,850 miles from south coast of Ireland, exactly one-third
of the distance between the two countries.
Our petrol consumption works out at about one gallon
an hour. Weather clear, sea deep blue, very good visibility,
35-40 miles according to the dip and distance horizon tables
at this height (1,500 ft.), should be 45 miles. Cooke determined
his position by observation on the sun and sea horizon.
It is interesting to note that there were only two occasions
when he was able to do this on the outward journey owing
to clouds and fog.
6.15 p.m.—A five-masted schooner under full sail on
starboard beam about five miles away was an interesting
contrast between the old and the new, the sailing ship and
the airship. We are now over the main east-bound summer
route of steamers from New York to Queenstown. The
s.s. Adriatic, due New York on 13th, should be somewhere
near us, and we are on the look-out for her on the wireless.
Getting much colder.
8 p.m.—Position 42.40 N., 50.30 W., making good 55
knots. Harris gives most interesting explanation of the
clouds formationed to the N. and S. of us, and compares
the clouds as we see them with the illustrations in a different
cloud text-book we have with us. It is now time for supper, soft-boiled eggs and cocoa, and we all discussed at great
length our impressions of American men and American
women. I wish our newly-made American friends could
have heard the delightful things that were said about them.
Pritchard goes to sleep under the dining-room table, while
the second watch come in for their supper. This position
under the dining-room table seems to be the most sought-after
point of vantage in the ship.
July 11, Friday, 3.20 a.m.—Position 45.03 N., 42.57 W.,
estimated by observations on stars and sea horizon. Visibility
4.20 a.m.—The foremost of the two engines in aft car breaks
down on connecting-rod fractures owing to bolts shearing,
with the result that the crank-case gets badly notched and the
engine is consequently quite beyond repair. Course, making
good 115 deg. or 87 deg. true. At 26 knots with forward
and two wing engines. Weather clear, sea moderate.
6.4c a.m.—Altered course to N. 30 deg. E., came down to
600 ft. to get under clouds, which are now appearing and
threaten to block out all view of the sea completely. We
now find by accurate measurements that below the clouds
is a northerly wind and above them, at 3,000 ft., the wind
is from south-west. The reason for this is an interesting one.
We are over the Gulf Stream on a north-easterly course.
The air over this Gulf Stream is warmer than the air over
the sea immediately to the north of it. This warm air rises
and its place is naturally taken by the cold air from the north,
resulting in a 12-knot conversional wind from the north
extending from the surface of the sea up to a height of about
2,000 ft. Having made this discover}', we accordingly
keep at 3,000 ft., when we have a steady wind from southwest.
8 a.m.—Cloud formations in so far as they indicate weather
are like an open book, profusely illustrated, with a plot that
changes all the time. On our port beam away to the northwest
we see the depression centred over Newfoundland
written plainly in the skv in fantastic and streaky cirrus
ventosus, a certain and sure indication of what is going on
over there some hundreds of miles away.
9.15 a.m.—Clocks have now been put forward one hour.
10.30 a.m.—Scott and Harris are agreed that the wind is
stronger in our favour the higher we go* up, but in spite of
that Scott decides to keep on a 3,000 ft. level to avoid necessity
of losing gas from expansion, which to-day is precious. Tomorrow
he can afford to go much higher, and the airship
will be so much lighter on account of having burned another
24 hours' petrol.
12 noon.—Weather report from Air Ministry tells us of
an anti-cyclone off south-west of Ireland, and so we change
course more to the north with a view to getting round into the
westerly wind which we know must be blowing on the northerly
side of it.
12.30 p.m.—Lunch. Mealtimes are always most welcome,
and give the more responsible members of the crew a muchneeded
interval. Our new gramophone is a vitally better
instrument than the one we endured on the outward voyage,
and as I was descending the ladder down into the fore car
after lunch I just caught a glimpse of Luck and Harris doing
quite a nice one-step together.
1.30 p.m.—Air Ministry sent a message to say that they
had made provision to land us in Ireland if necessary, and
that destroyers with steam up were available at Berehaven
if required. We replied—propose to land at East Fortune.
One engine completely broken down.
3.30 p.m.—Still at 3,000 ft. in and out of the clouds at
intervals. We have not seen the sea since 8.30 this morning,
1,600 revs, three engines, our speed 32 knots. Another
weather report from London to say that the depression
north of Iceland has moved easterly, and that as a result the
wind is from south-west over north of Ireland and whole
of Scotland. This strengthens Scott in his decision to give
up going to London and go to East Fortune instead. It
is sad not to take in London on our return, but with one
engine lost and weather in South of England not very favourable
the decision is a wise one.
4.30 p.m.—Scott brings ship down to try to see water
and get an indication of our speed, but at 900 ft. it is still
very thick, so he abandons the attempt. In coming down
from 3,800 ft. to 900 ft. we pass through no fewer than five
distinct and separate cloud strata. In these thick clouds
(we have been in them now since 3.30 this morning) we have
no means of telling our speed, as they extend right down to
the water. We assume from general weather observations
that the wind is with us, the worst condition we think fair
to assume being no wind at all. There certainly ought not to
be a head wind against us. There is no alternative but to
keep pegging away through the clouds until other weather
4.45 p.m.—We appear above the clouds for a lew blissful
moments and see a beautiful cloud panorama. Range
upon range of alternate white and slate-coloured mountains
with wide deep valleys and an occasional glimpse of bright
blue sky immediately above. The glare is almost blinding,
and we can only look at the sun for a moment or two at a time.
5 p.m.—We are back again in the clouds with no visibility.
Picked up H.M.S. Cumberland on our Marconi spark set.
She gave her position and when plotted on the chart Cooke
thinks her to be almost due north of us, and from the strength
of her signal she should be within 30 miles. Durrant tried
to get her with our directional wireless, but without success.
7.5 p.m.—Passing through wet rain clouds. It has been
raining very heavily since 5 o'clock. Scott goes up to 5,000 ft.
to get out of it, but with no success, and reduces height to
3,000 ft. again. Very cold and dark. All windows and doors
7.35 p.m.—We ask H.M.S. Cumberland for a weather report.
She replies giving her position and reporting wind at N.N .W.,
18 m.p.h., overcast, passing showers, and clouds above 1,000 It.
8 p.m.—Supper, and a very good one too. We are well
equipped with little luxuries on this Teturn voyage, having
learnt a thing or two on the outward journey, about what
is necessarv and what is not.
8.30 p.m.—Still pouring with rain. Height 4,000 ft.
The wind whistles round the forward car. Very dark and
no visibility. Scott reduces height to 3,000 it., and an
extraordinary sight suddenly presents itself beneath us.
Thousands and thousands of little round clouds like tiny
white puff balls packed closely together, with the blue sea
just visible in between them, iorm a layer of cloud between
us and the sea. This cloud formation is called " ball cumulus."
8.45 p.m.—Dropped a calcium flare, which floated away
burning brightly straight astern and enabling Cooke to get
our direction and a good idea of the speed at which we were
8.50 p.m.—Again thick clouds and heavy rain. Clifden
Wireless Station sounds very loud on the wireless, which
shows we are getting nearer home, and Durrant has just
succeeded in getting East Fortune, 1,100 miles away. He
could just faintly hear them say the words " Saturday
9.15 p.m.—S.S. Dominion speaks us and gives her position
and barometric readings. She reports us as being quite near
her, though, of course, she cannot see us or even hear our
engines owing to rain clouds.
12 midnight.—Still pouring with rain. Dropped flare ;
drift estimated as 10 deg. to southward. As we lay in our
hammocks we listened to the rain beating pitilessly down
on the outer cover of our trusty ship of the air, and our feelings,
despite the weather, are those of complete confidence and
July 12, Saturday, 12.45 am-—Weather clearing. Sea
visible at 2,500 ft.
3 a.m.—Magnificent sunrise. The sun appeared above
the clouds in a blaze of color, much impressing those of the
crew who happened to be on duty at the time.
6 a.m.—-Position 52.20 N., 22.35 W., 760 miles from East
Fortune. Running on three engines, aft engine having broken
valves. Springs changed. Air speed 32 knots. It is
interesting to note that Cooke has not been able to get a
single observation for plotting his position for the last 24
hours, and it is quite fair to assume that yesterday's weather
with S.W. wind is quite an average day in mid-Atlantic.
Clouds beneath us look just like a gigantic soft, springy,
R 34 IN AMERICA : A striking view from beneath of
the airship at Roosevelt Field. Note the gas cylinders
fleecy, white feather bed, and they fill one with a strange
irresistible feeling of wishing to jump down into them, probably
a similar sort of feeling which some people feel when
they are climbing a steep mountain face.
8 a.m.^-H.M.S. Tiger gives her position and reports wind
N.W.—N. 15-20 m.p.h., sky overcast with low stratus,
visibility five miles. Breakfast this morning is quite a
festive meal, as we reckoned it should be our last breakfast
on board, and we are not quite so economical with our issues
as usual. Message received -from Mr. G. Constantinesco,
the brilliant Roumanian inventor of Sonic transmission,
welcoming us back to England.
10.55 a.m.—Height 5,000 ft. We are now over a big
gap in the clouds about 26 miles across, and will soon be in the
clouds again. Clear blue sky and sea. No sign of a ship.
Making good 35 knots, which should enable us to make East
Fortune at daybreak to-morrow.
11.25 a.m.—Durrant succeeds in getting a wireless out on
Clifden with directional finding apparatus. Weather has
turned very cold.
12 noon.—Lunch. We are all rather anxious to get to our
journey's end. Perhaps it is the strain that is beginning
to tell, and it is now rather disappointing to find that a N.E.
wind is preventing us from making more than 28 knots.
We shall be breakfasting in the air again to-morrow, after all.
12.30 p.m.—The clouds have all cleared away, but only
temporarily, I feel certain. Height 5,000 ft., perfectly
clear blue sky and deep blue sea. Visibility is at its maximum,
and at this height, according to our text-books, we can see
81 miles. This means that we can see 162 miles from right
forward to right aft, arid the area we can see over works
out at 19,200 square miles, and not a ship to be seen. My
ambition to see a steamer at close quarters in this gigantic
Atlantic will, I am afraid, never be realized.
3.50 p.m.—Clouds rolling up again. Some very fine
examples of cumulus major are to be seen. One particularly
interesting cloud formation on our port beam takes the eye.
It is a huge vertical column of cloud joining a lower stratus
of cloud to a higher stratus, and is about 500 ft. high. It is
carried by an upturned vertical current.
5.30 p.m.—Great excitement. Two trawlers are sighted
on our starboard beam. They look very tiny. We try
to speak the near one with an Aldis lamp, but as she has no
wireless we cannot get reply. We are now down to 3,000 ft.,
and the difference in temperature between this height and
5,000 ft. is most marked, 8 deg. F. Making slightly better
headway at this height, 32 knots. Wind N.N.W., 25 deg.
drift. Cooke considers that an accuracy of more than 20
miles in estimating a position in mid-Atlantic cannot be
guaranteed in an airship even in clear weather. Directional
wireless, however, should, when perfected, make this much
6.50 p.m.—We ran into a sudden squall from north-west.
Low black clouds and a rough confused sea all in a space
of a few minutes. Ship very steady. 1,600 revolutions
on four engines.
6.57 p.m.—Passed out of squall. Got Clifden on directional
wireless. 96 deg. mag. 76 true. We are not very far from
the coast of Ireland.
7.15 p.m.—Another squall, but not a big one.
Land in Sight
7.25 p.m.—Land in sight on our starboard bow. Great
enthusiasm on board. First spotted by Lieut.-Col. Hemsley,
U.S. Army Aviation Department, 7-10 miles away. Scott
alters course to make the land. Cooke gets the large chart
of the west coast of Ireland, and there is keen competition
to see who will fix on the exact spot when we cross the coast.
Two little islands lie right ahead of us. With our glasses
we see the wireless mast of Clifden. These two islands are
almost certainly the same two little islands that appeared
out of the fog to the delighted gaze of Alcock and Brown
at the conclusion of their historical flight. A strange and
8 p;m.—At 8 o'clock precisely we crossed the coast line
a little to the north of Clifden, Co. Mayo, and our time from
crossing the American coast at Long Island to crossing the
Irish coast is exactly 61 hours 33 minutes.
8.15 p.m.—We head right in over the mountains, which
at this spot are 2,900 ft. high. What a wild and rugged coast
line ! A magnificent cloud panorama now appears. Huge
white cumulus clouds of weird and fantastic shape surround
us on all sides, and over the top peep out the tops of the
mountains, while through the gaps we see lakes, harbors,
islands, and green fields, quite the prettiest picture we have
seen on the entire voyage. It seems as if the elements have
reserved their best cloud shapes to welcome us as we cross
over British soil.
of Castlebar flying past us and under us, waving a welcome.
We are now well away from the mountains over the flat
country inland, heading right across to Belfast and finally East
Fortune. Height 2,000 ft., making good 38 knots. Bright
The Airship's Company
Crew of the R 34 on return journey:—Officers:—Maj.
G. H. Scott, A.F.C., Capt. G. S. Greenland, 1st officer,
Sec. Lieut. H. F. Luck, 2nd officer, and Lieut. J. D. Shotter,
engineer officer (Ship's Officers) ; also Brig.-Gen. E. F.
Maitland, C.M.G., D.S.O., representing Air Ministry ; Maj.
J. E. M. Pritchard, O.B.E., Admiralty ; Lieut.-Col. W. H
Hemsley, United States Aviation Army Department; Maj.
G. G. H. Cooke, D.S.C., navigating officer; Lieut. Guy
Harris, meteorological officer ; Sec. Lieut.* R. D. Durrant,
wireless officer; W. Mayes, coxswain; H. J. Robinson
Flight-Sergt., coxswain; H. M. Watson, Sergt. ; R. T. Burgess,
Corpl. ; F. Smith, Corpl.; J. Forteath, leading aircraftsman,
F. Borowdie, air-mech. 1st Grade (last five riggers).
Engineers :—W. R. Gent, Flight-Sergt. ; R. Ripley
Flight-Sergt.; N. A. Scull, Flight-Sergt. ; J. Shirwell, Sergt.
B. Evenden, Sergt. ; P. Cross, Corpl. ; G. Gray, Corpl.
G. Graham, 1st Air-Mech. ; F. Mort, 1st Air-Mech.; J.
Northeast, 1st Air-Mech. ; R. Parker, 1st Air-Mech. ; E. E.
Turner, Flight-Sergt; W. Angers, Flight-Sergt. ; H. Powell,
The Last Stage
As things have turned out (though one could have foreseen
this) it would have been wiser if we had kept a more northerly
course after getting away from the helpful influence of the
Newfoundland depression. We would then have been helped
by this N.N.W. wind instead of being hindered by it and
might have saved some time. Undoubtedly the captains
of the big aerial liners of the future will become wily and
cunning masters of the art of selecting the right way and the
right height and often by making wide detours will by means
of their air knowledge alone save many hours on long sea and
11.20 p.m.—Message from Air Ministry to say we are to
land at Pulham. We ask if we may land at East Fortune
as that is our original objective and the weather is reported
good for landing. The reply is to land at Pulham, so we
assume there is some special reason and we alter our course
Sunday, July 13,7 a.m.—Scott increases height to 5,000 ft.,
and course is steered over Isle of Man, and Liverpool 2.45 a.m.,
Derby 3.55 a.m., and Nottingham 4.15 a.m., direct to
5 a.m.—A wireless message is received from His Majesty
the King :—" I congratulate you all on your safe return
after completion of your memorable and, indeed, unique
Transatlantic voyage.—Signed, G.R." Wireless messages
of congratulations were also received from Maj .-Gen. Seely,
Under-Secretary of State for Air; Maj .-Gen. Sir H.M.
Trenchard, Chief of Air Staff; Maj.-Gen. Sir F. H. Sykes.
Controller-General of Civil Aviation ; and Sir A. Robinson.
Secretary of the Air Council.
6.20 a.m.—Over Pulham Airship Station, and 6.57 landed.
Total time of return journey from Long Island to Pulham,
Norfolk, 75 hours, 3 minutes, or three days, three hours, three
General Maitland's Story
IN an interview with Mr. H. C. Bailey. 01 the Daily Telegraph, Gen. Maitland gave some further impressions :—
" One of the objects of the flight," he said, " was to demonstrate what airships could do in long-distance flying oversea
with an ultimate view to their commercial use. Airships will undoubtedly be employed for commercial purposes or
very long journeys over sea and land. They will not conflict with the aeroplane and seaplane. There is no question of
competition. Airships will make long voyages, and from their terminal aero planes and seaplanes will radiate on short,
quick journeys. A second object of the voyage was to cement the friendship between this country and the United States.
The ' R.34 ' was very comfortable. There was no feeling of sea-sickness on board. On the return trip we had a wind of
45 miles an hour and a high sea. A surface ship would have been all over the place. The airship's motion was perfectly
smooth. " We came to Pulham not because we should have had any
difficulty in making East Fortune, but because we were ordered here by the Air Ministry. The landing in America
gave an illustration of the uses of the parachute in air work. When the ' R.34 ' was over the landing-ground on Long Island,
Maj. Pritchard went down by parachute from a height of 1,500 ft. to assist in directing the landing party, and his
services were very useful. This illustrates the employment of the parachute in air work in addition to its value in life
saving. The parachute, I am convinced, will be used in all air craft, but will be of particular value to the airship.
" The worst moment of the voyage ? I think our worst moment was on the outward run, when we met the electric
storm in the Bay of Fundy. Confident ? Oh, yes, we were all confident that we should complete the round trip. The
only question was whether the petrol would last out. It is certainly true that after a long flight landing is difficult,
because an airship with its petrol expended is very light. We have begun experiments in mooring ships in the open.
You can see the first experiment here, ' R.24 ' " (this is an earlier and smaller craft) " is lying moored to a mast, and she
has been out since Thursday. In the future I hope that an airship will come in under her own power right over her
mooring-mast, drop a cable, which will be connected by one or two men to a cable in the mast, and will then be hauled
down by a winch till her bows meet the tip of the mast. Such a mast for a big airship would be some 200 ft. high. It would
be a structure of some considerable diameter, a tower, let us destination the engine in the stern car broke down beyond
repair. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Thus, as we carry five engines, the ship lost one-fifth of her power. In the
conditions of the voyage it made no practical difference. I seldom have all the engines working, and, in fact, only use the
whole five when running against a strong wind. Before making Ireland we were for six hours at over 5,000 ft. We
reached the coast just by Clifden wireless station, in fact, at just the same point as Alcock. We approached Pulham by
way of Derby, Nottingham, and King's Lynn. The signal which you saw the ship making as she approached the station
was to ask for the barometrical reading on the ground in order that I might judge how to make the descent. The water
which was discharged from the bows as we came down was let out to render the descent more gradual. We started out from
America with 4,900 gallons of petrol. We landed at Pulham with 1,000 gallons still on board, so that the run was made on
3,900. On landing we received a message from the King. I think that there is no room for doubt that the large airship
is the type of aircraft for deep sea work. Before very long I hope that we shall have airships of a size and speed which will
enable them to sustain a rate of 70-80 miles an hour. The cross-Atlantic route, I think, will vary with the weather.
R 34 entering the hangar at Pulham on Sunday, July 13, after her successful return journey from America.
say, and the airship's passengers would disembark by coming down inside it in a lift.
" Our damages ? Oh, the damage on the landing in America was very slight, and easily repaired. In the engine
which failed coming home, the connecting-rod broke, and the engine was completely wrecked."
Maj. Scott's Impressions
Maj. Scott, the Commander of the " R.34," also gave some impressions to Mr. Bailey :— " I t was an uneventful voyage," said Maj. Scott. " I estimated that it would take between 70 and 80 hours. In fact, it took 75 hours 3 min. The outward voyage lasted
108 hours. On leaving Long Island we proceeded to New York, and were over the city between midnight and 1 a.m.
We circled over Broadway at a height of 2,000 ft., but we could not hear the crowds cheering on account of the noise of
our own engines. Owing to the storm behind us, and the strong following wind which it caused, the first 500 miles were
made at a very high speed. Our best rate \vas 72 knots— some 80 miles an hour. After leaving Newfoundland, which
we passed on a course 150 miles to the south, the following wind failed, and we had a certain amount of head wind,
which yielded to light and various breezes. We met much low cloud and fog, and could take no sight of any sort for 24 hours.
Directional wireless enabled us to keep our course without difficulty. When we were still some 1,200 miles away from our
There can hardly be for aircraft, as for surface ships, more orless fixed courses."
R 34's Engineer Officer
Probably no one on the airship would deny that the hardest work of all fell to the lot of Lieut. John Irwin Denham Shotter,
engineer officer of the R 34. He was responsible for the care of the five Sunbeams, and, in fact, for everything of an
engineering nature on the airship. He, like everyone else on board, depended upon Maj. Scott, but everyone in turn
depended equally on him, for the upkeep and skilful management of the motors were vital to the success of the voyage,
and as all the world knows by now, his post demanded the most constant attention.
His task was made all the harder, and his heroism was all the greater, for the reason, known to all his comrades, that
on the eve of the start his wife was taken seriously ill with heart trouble. Under such circumstances he might well
have been forgiven if he had asked to be relieved of his duty, but his heart was in the work for which he had trained so
long, and no one else knew the ship and her engines as he did,so he went through with it, despite the keenest personal anxiety
for the safety of his wife. Under such mental strain his devotion
to duty deserves the highest praise. Lieut. Shotter, who was born on November 7, 1890, at
Freshwater, Isle of Wight, was by a curious coincidence born in a house which was the property of Gen. Sir J. B.
Seely, with whom his father had served in the South African War, and had also manned the same lifeboat on numerous
occasions. This fact aroused much interest at the House of Commons luncheon at which Gen. Sir J. B. Seely presided
on Monday. Our Allies will be glad to know that his mother is French.
He served his apprenticeship to locomotive engineering at Messrs. Manning and Wardle's, at Leeds, but soon turned
his attention to internal combustion engines, and at the outbreak of War was chief aero engine tester at the Wolseley
works at Birmingham. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a petty officer on his birthday in 1914, having set
himself out to see how far he could progress on his merits. His career was one of steady rise, and he gained valuable
experience on every type of airship. His enthusiasm suffered in no way in spite of the fact that his first trip ended in
disaster and a period in hospital. For his bravery on that occasion he was specially mentioned in dispatches and promoted
to rigids. He has achieved a reputation of the highest class for his handling of aeromotors on rigid airships, and has spent
in all over 2,000 hours flying. The official logs of the several great and historic journeys of the R 34 give some idea of his
capabilities under circumstances of extreme difficulty, where the economical use of his fuel and the hourly nursing of each
motor meant all the difference between success and disaster. As illustrative of his coolness, one of his brother officers relates
how Shotter was roughly disturbed in the midst of a brief spell of sleep by a mechanic who exclaimed, " My engine's
all on fire ! " Shotter, exhausted by his labours, calmly replied, " Well, go and put it out ! "
He received the most gratifying compliments from prominent officers in the American Air Service, among them
Commander Reade of the N.C. 4, and was embarrassed by the fame he had earned. No engineer officer in any Air
Service ever had so gruelling a test before, and few would have emerged with such honor.
The following message of congratulation from the King was dispatched by wireless, and was received by R 34 while
on her way from Nottingham to Pulham :— " I heartily congratulate you all on your safe return home
after the completion of your memorable and, indeed, unique Transatlantic air voyage.—GEORGE, R. and I."
The Air Minister has communicated the following congratulatory message received from the Prime Minister to
Gen. Maitland, Maj. Scott, and the crew of H.M.A. R 34 :— " Heartiest congratulations on fine feat of airmanship.—
Lloyd George." From Mr. Churchill, Secretary of State for Air, to Gen. Maitland
and officer commanding R 34 :—" My sincere congratulations to all concerned on the complete accomplishment of
your journey and your successful work as pioneers." From Maj.-Gen. Seely, Under-Secretary of State for Air :—
" I send my best congratulations to you and to the crew of R 34 on your magnificent achievement of being the first to
cross and re-cross the Atlantic by air. We are all very
proud of you." From the Secretary, Air Council:—" Heartiest congratulations
on making the return journey so successfully. The Air Council fully realise the endurance and fortitude entailed
in the accomplishment of this epoch-making event.— W. A. ROBINSON, Secretary, Air Council."
From the Controller-General, Civil Aviation :—" Hearty congratulations from myself and Department of Civil Aviation
on your successful journey and safe return. It is a really splendid augury for the future of commercial aviation.—
SYKES." From the Chief of the Air Staff :—" On behalf of the whole Air Force, I send you heartiest congratulations on your
magnificent achievement in making the double journey across the Atlantic.—TRENCHARD, Chief of Air Staff."
In a further personal telegram to Gen. Maitland and Maj. Scott, Gen. Trenchard said :—" Please accept my heartiest
congratulations on your successful accomplishment of the return journey. The flight you have just completed is, I
consider, one of the main stepping-stones in long-distance aviation."
On her outward journey the R 34 carried a message from Mr. Long, the First Lord of the Admiralty, to Mr. Daniels,
the United States Secretary for the Navy. She brought back a reply in which Mr. Daniels says,: " Our country is
filled with pleasure at the successful arrival of the R 34. The Navy of America salutes the British Admiralty. It
is our privilege to live in the days of fulfillment of many
visions and dreams. I congratulate your great Empire on its spirit of daring and skill which is evident in this epoch making
flight."The Governor-General of Canada received the following message from King George by the R 34 :—
" I take this opportunity of sending by the first British
airship to cross the Atlantic a message of good wishes to the people of Canada from the Old Country."
The following telegrams have been received by the Under- Secretary of State ior Air, Gen. the Rt. Hon. J. B. Seely,
in reply to messages sent by him on the R 34, which were dropped by Gen. Maitland when passing over Canadian
territory and over Newfoundland. The Canadian Premier, Sir Robert Borden, telegraphs :—" Best thanks for your
greetings. Warmest congratulations on splendid success of R 34. I earnestly join you in your aspiration that this
successful endeavour may tend to bring closer together all the great English-speaking nations."
The Premier of Newfoundland replies :—" Thanks for your message dropped by dirigible last Friday. It was blown
away from parachute and only recovered yestereve. On behalf of colleagues and country please accept warmest
congratulations from Newfoundland on success of dirigible flight which forms yet another aviation triumph for the
Briton." Among the 40 lb. of mail brought back were the two gold medals awarded by the Aero Club of America to Capt. Sir
John Alcock and Lieut. Sir W. Brown. Sergts. Turner and Anders replaced the wireless operator
Edwards and the stowaway Ballantyne in the crew of the R 34 on the return flight.
Gen. Maitland, Maj. Scott, and Lieut. Shotter arrived in London on Monday morning, and were met at Liverpool
Street Station by representatives of the Air Ministry. Mrs. Winston Churchill was there with Lady Drogheda, and the
War Minister was represented by Col. Scott. Gen. Swinton represented Gen. Sykes (Controller-General of Civil Aviation),
Col. Chamier represented Gen. Trenchard (Chief of Air Staff), and amongst others on the platform were Gen. Masterman
(chief representative of the Airship Service), Comdr. Perrin (secretary of the Royal Aero Club), Comdr. Ramsey (of the
United States Navy), and a number of R.A.F. officers who were connected with the arrangements for the flight. The
three officers were entertained at luncheon in the House of Commons by Gen. Seely, Gen. Trenchard, and Gen. Sykes.
Included in the cargo landed by the R 34 on Sunday morning was a film showing the airship's arrival in America
and scenes at Mineola up to the time of her departure. The pictures were taken by Messrs. Pathe's operator, and were
brought home in the airship by permission of the Air Council, enabling events which took place over 3,000 miles away to
be depicted on the screen in England within four days. Some remarkable wireless signals were exchanged during
the voyage of the R 34. The Royal Air Force station at Dundee exchanged signals at 1,000 miles. The R 34 sent
messages at 1,100 miles that were read by the Air Ministry
and by Wormwood Scrubbs at 1,13s miles, and by Ballybunion at 1,600. In one case, when the R 34 was approaching
America, a signal was sent to her from the Air Ministry through Clifden, and a reply received via St. John's, Glace
Bay, Clifden, and Marconi House, and then to the Air Ministry,
all in 20 minutes.
JULY 17, 1919
and the New York Times. The London correspondent of the latter states that a copy of the New York Times of July 9
was received by the King at Buckingham Palace on Sunday soon after 1 p.m., while a copy of the Public Ledger was
delivered at the Palace at 2.30 p.m. THE damage to the envelope of the R.34 is just in front of
the forward gondola, and was caused in an accident to t he mooring eyes that are fixed there. It was satisfactorily
repaired for the voyage, but ho doubt the damage will now be
permanently repaired. Dunbar will confer the freedom of the burgh on Maj. Scott,
commander of the R 34. THE Air Ministry have allowed visitors tfl inspect the airship
each day between 2 and 8 p.m., and large numbers of people have taken advantage of this opportunity.
LEADING AIRCRAFTSMAN GEORGE GRAHAM received an offer in America of $1,000 (£200) for " Wopsie," his tabby kitten,
which sailed on " R.34." Graham, however, refused to part with it.
The R 34 brought over a batch of United States papers, among them being parcels of the Philadelphia Public Ledger
THE " establishment " of the R.34 included two carrier pigeons, but one escaped in America.