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Aeronautics: I Christen Thee…

2 minute read

“I Christen Thee . . .”

Too young to have accreted traditions as rich as the sea’s, the air has evolved a few rites of its own. One is the quick dip of salute by a plane in flight, anotherthe wing-wag of greeting, another the ring-laying ceremony for a new dirigible (TIME, Nov. 4, 1929). Picturesque is still another —the christening of a new balloon with liquid air. As in the case of the Graf Zeppelin and many smaller craft, it was planned that the Navy’s great Akron should be named to the accompaniment of a flask smashed against the nose of her control car, a quick puff of white vapor.

Last week it was announced that Mrs. Herbert Hoover will sponsor the Akron at the christening Aug. 8, at the Goodyear-Zeppelin dock at Akron, Ohio. But Mrs. Hoover, practiced though she is at swinging bottles against bows, will swing no bottle of liquid air. The stuff is dangerous to handle, would instantly freeze any bit of flesh upon which it might splash. Instead Mrs. Hoover will set free a flock of white pigeons.

Original plans for the Akron prescribed a lift of 221,000 lb. for the airship herself, and capacity for a useful load of 182,000 Ib. Last week the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics estimated that the ship will be 19,000 to 20,000 Ib. overweight. The exact figure cannot be determined until after the final strips of covering are applied to the envelope and the ship is “weighed off” with lifting gas. By its contract with the

Navy, Goodyear-Zeppelin Corp. is liable for a penalty of $5 per Ib. for overweight up to 5,000 Ib., but last week it was questionable whether a penalty would be assessed since some of the excess may be chargeable to changes in Navy specifications. Said Rear Admiral William A. Moffett: “The Akron has been splendidly constructed, better than any dirigible within our knowledge. The slight excess in her weight … is a direct conversion into increased safety and military factors.”

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