WRIGHT, Orville. Carbon typed letter signed ("Orville Wright") to the Contest Committee of the Aero Club of Germany in Berlin; n.p. [Dayton?], 7 November 1928. 1 page, 4to, even light browning, stapled at top with 4 other documents including an official folding lithographic map of the U.S. Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, N.J. (with an ink notation showing the Zeppelin's exact departure point), and a 6 x 8½ in. sepia-toned photograph of the "Graf Zeppelin" in flight (6 x 8½ in.; originally mounted, now loose), in original stamped blue paper folder.
ORVILLE WRIGHT CERTIFIES A RECORD OF GERMANY'S "GRAF ZEPPELIN"
An highly unusual set of documents linking the American aviation pioneer Orville Wright to Germany's famous dirigible, the Graf Zeppelin (LZ-126). At the date of this document, the Graf Zeppelin was under command of Germany's pioneering aviator, Col. Hugo Eckener (1868-1954) who, with the late Count Ferdinand Zeppelin, had proven the viability of the dirigible, successfully flown it across the Atlantic in 1924, and went on to establish it as a transatlantic passenger craft. Here, as Chairman of the Contest Committee, Wright submits "a report on the start of the Graf Zeppelin for the return flight from Lakehurst, New Jersey, to Frederichshaven, Germany. This report also include Directing Official's report, Official Timers' report, certification of distance...and one photograph [present]" This report is submitted for inclusion with the report on....the landing by the Aero Club of Germany...requesting that World Records be officially credited...."
An accompanying record sheet, signed by several observers, records details of the departure of the Graf Zeppelin, flagship of the German airship fleet. The hydrogen-filled dirigible, powered by 5 Maybach-Zeppelin engines, each generating 550 horsepower, left its moorings at Lakehurst, N.J. under the command of Dr. Hugo Eckener at exactly 1:54:25 a.m. E.S.T. on 29 October 1928. "The flight started from a point near the hanger at the Naval Air Station...The starting time was taken at the instant the aircraft left the ground in full flight." This record was intended to be matched with the record of the airship's landing, as recorded by the German Aero Club, in order to determine whether a the flight constituted a record for duration and distance. A letter of an official of the U.S. Department of the Interior certifies the distance between Lakehurst and Frederickshaven as exactly 4,003 statute miles.
Four years later, in 1929, Eckener piloted the Graf Zeppelin on its epochal around-the-world flight, and in 1931 on the same airship's polar-exploration flight. And the same pilot named here, Ernst A. Lehman, died at the controls of the airship Hindenberg when it exploded on landing at Lakehurst on 6 May 1937, writing a fiery finis to the age of dirigible aircraft.