Wrong way Zeppelin
On a summer’s night in August 1929, the eyes of Oklahoma were directed skyward in hopes of glimpsing the Graf Zeppelin, Germany’s great airship, as it was completing a round-the-world flight.
Oklahoma’s U.S. Senator Elmer Thomas, along with Stanley Draper, manager of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and former congressman E. B. Howard, had extended a formal invitation for the Zeppelin to visit Oklahoma City enroute to Lakehurst, N.J. The State Chamber of Commerce sent an invitation on behalf of 237 local chambers saying ”that a decision to pass over Oklahoma would add impetus to aviation in the state that has progressed more rapidly than any other of the United States.”
The Zeppelin, while it could be steered, was still subject to the whims of the wind, and when it arrived at Oklahoma’s borders on Aug. 28, 1929, the wind and its crew sent it to the northeast, bypassing Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoman reported on Aug. 29, 1929, ”at least a dozen towns in Oklahoma got a glimpse of the Zeppelin. Entering the state in southwestern Beckham county, the big ship flew over Carter, Elk City, Clinton, Arapaho, Thomas, Watonga, Kingfisher, Hennessey, Perry, Mulhall, Ponca City and Fairfax” before it left Oklahoma headed for Kansas City.
When it was realized that the Zeppelin would miss Oklahoma City, an Oklahoman reporter and staff photographer took
an airplane and caught up with the Graf Zeppelin near Fairfax. WKY radio fielded calls from all over the area and distributed the “best information available” to its listeners.
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