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Streets and squares

The new streets and squares of the future neighbourhood of glattpark Opfikon are named after aviation pioneers. They are to remind people of men and women who, at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, with their vision and courage have made possible the unique development of civil aviation.

This will be a further contribution to the identity of the new city neighborhood, pointing to a period of innovation which proved to be ground-breaking for the future of civil aviation.

Opfikon, December 2001
THE CITY COUNCIL

"Among all of mankind's leaps, from the invention of the wheel, the letter press and the sailing ships up to the computer, hardly any has changed the world so much as the conquest of the sky."

P. Almond, "Aviation"

"The pioneers of aviation had nothing but their common sense and their capacity to react to land safely on the ground again. Their craft, primitive constructions of wood, fabric and wire, were hard to steer and so vulnerable that even a slight gust of wind resulted in a crash. The engines, fitted up front or in the rear, weak and unreliable, had a tendency to stall at a decisive moment. The pilots bet their fortunes, their pride and their lives against such adversity."

C. Prendergast, "Pioneers of Aviation"



Lilienthal in 1894, before takeoff with his "Fliegeberg" (fly mountain) in Berlin-Lichterfelde

Otto Lilienthal, 1848 - 1896. Gaining basic insights for aviation.

"Without a doubt, many men long before Lilienthal thought of conducting experiments of this kind. Lilienthal not only thought about flying, he proceeded to act. In so doing, he probably made a larger contribution to the solution of the problem than any of his predecessors. He clearly demonstrated the feasibility of practical flight attempts without which progress in this realm is impossible…" wrote the American Orville Wright in 1901 who, two years later, was to succeed with the first engine-propelled flight. Following 25 years of experimental and theoretical work, Lilienthal in 1889 published his book "Bird flight as the basis for the art of flying".

In 1891 he succeeded with history's first repeatable safe glider flights with craft having one and two sets of wings (1895), all told a total of 2000 glider flights up to a distance of 250 meters. His method "from jump to flight" was adapted all over the world and marks the beginning of the period of manned flight. From 1894 onward, he used a mound named Fliegeberg (fly mountain) in Lichterfelde near his apartment, heaped to a height of 15 meters in accordance with his instructions. The photos of Lilienthal in his glider are the first of a flying human.

His engineer witnessed Lilienthal's fatal crash on August 9, 1896 when he failed to compensate for a thermal turbulence. "It was about ten after three PM. Lilienthal only rushed a few steps against the wind before his wings lifted him upward. Everything was normal. But suddenly it appeared to me as if the apparatus, which was gliding downwards, stood still in the air. He was maybe ten meters above ground. Lilienthal began to struggle with his legs, thus trying to give his wings a more downward decline. Inexplicably, the apparatus within seconds started to rush head on, crashing hard. Lilienthal could no longer move. His back was broken."

Lilienthal did not yet realize the perfect flight, but with his scientifically gained insights and practical achievements, he paved the way to showing how flying was possible.


Lindbergh's reception in New York

Charles Lindbergh, 1902 - 1974. First to fly across the Atlantic nonstop from New York to Paris.

In 1912, the Daily Mail opened a competition awarding 10,000 pounds to whoever first crossed the Atlantic nonstop. On June 14, Captain Brown and Lieutenant Alcock take off from St. John's in Newfoundland and the following day land near Clifden in Ireland-the first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic. They received the Daily Mail prize from the hands of Winston Churchill.

Charles Lindbergh had been a professional pilot on postal routes since 1920. In 1923, he bought his first plane from army leftover stocks even though he had never flown alone.

In 1920, a prize of $25,000 for the first nonstop flight between Paris and New York in any direction was offered. Owing to the support of influential businesspeople from St. Louis, Lindbergh was able to buy an airplane especially designed for this purpose, the Ryan Spirit of St. Louis, with a top speed of 200 KMH a flying gas tank without direct forward sight for the pilot.

On May 20, 1927, Lindberg flew from Long Island, N.Y., via Newfoundland across the Atlantic, and the following day, after 6000 km and a flying time of 33½ hours, landed in Paris Le Bourget at night. He not only met the terms of the competition but was also the first to cross the Atlantic alone.

"Sometimes, I flew ten feet above the sea, sometimes I was at an altitude of 10,000 feet... I flew for long hours without seeing any waves. Frankly speaking, I was very much bored... I never took a nap... I only drank water, but I admit to you: upon arrival, I was thirsty as hell. ... I only had my passport. Unfortunately, I forgot to obtain the necessary visa. Fortunately, no one was too fussy about it after my arrival."

"Incidentally I could have kept on flying for a long time... If I succeeded, I owed it to the design engineer of my aircraft and to all those who had helped me. It is a pity I didn't go on flying. Really, I can assure you I still had enough fuel to keep on flying for another thousand miles."
(from interviews with Lindbergh following his arrival)


Lindbergh's takeoff on May 20, 1927 from Roosevelt Field in New York


Farman winning the Archdeacon Cup for Europe's first one-kilometer roundtrip flight

Henry Farman, 1874-1958. Engine pilot and design engineer. Distance and altitude records, decisive improvements in aircraft design.

Farman was of British origin and lived in Paris.

"The personified experimentation talent." (Gabriel Voisin)

In 1908, Farman was the first to fly a closed one-kilometer loop in Europe with a Voisin airplane which he had decisively improved. "This day will go into history as the day on which, in the presence of official witnesses, human intelligence overcame the problem which had been Icarus's demise and over which Leonardo da Vinci had racked his brain. Never before has such a feat been achieved." (London Times)
The "Grande Semaine d'Aviation de la Champagne", the aviation meeting week in Reims of August 22 through 28, 1909 was no longer be matched by any other similar event. After Blériot's successful flight across the Channel, Europe's entire high society gathered at Bétheny near Reims to attend the meeting of what were then aviation's greatest flying cracks. On the fifth day, Latham with a 150-km flight took the pole position in long-distance flying. The grand prize amounting to 50,000 francs appeared to go to him for sure.

On the last day, Farman pulled his biplane from the hangar. The fabric-covered tail unit looked more like "laundry strung on a line for drying in the backyard of a laundress." Farman took off, flying one loop around the square after the next, and after two hours he had equaled Wilbur Wright's record. He landed in the evening by floodlight. He had flown 180 km in 3 hours, 4 minutes and 56 seconds.
Henry, who in 1909 with his brother Maurice founded an aircraft engineering plant at Billancourt near Paris, achieved further altitude and speed records.

In 1919, the world's first international passenger route was inaugurated with the dual-engine "Goliath", a reengineered bomber. In the following years, the Goliath was used by numerous airlines as it was considered one of the most reliable and comfortable passenger planes.


Chavez before taking off for his flight over the Simplon pass on September 23, 1910

Geo Chavez, 1887-1910. Parisian-born Peruvian. The first to cross the Alps.

"A handsome man of Herculean build, great athlete, international soccer player and motor vehicle driver."

In 1910 Chavez attended Farman's flight school in France. Obtained French flying license no. 23 on February 15, 1910. Subsequently numerous pioneering flights, records and prizes.

On July 19, 1910, the committee of the Milan flight meeting offered a prize of 70,000 lire for a "competitive flight by aircraft over the Alps to Milan." The Simplon pass was selected as the best route with Brig being the starting point of the contest. The town prepared a landing strip on the Brigerberg mountain some 200 m above the bottom of the valley.

On August 23, 1910, Chavez arrived in Brig to explore the mountain world he intended to conquer by foot and by automobile. His competitor Weymann, too, made exploratory flights on his Farman biplane: "It is a terrific venture, and only a human who does not value life can meet death as the winning trophy."
Following many takeoff postponements on account of a holiday and inclement weather, Chavez took off at noon of on September 23, 1910 on his 50-HP Blériot Discoverer.

On the Simplon pass, folks were on the streets, and bells announced the flight. The entire Domodossola valley gathered for the reception. «Short cries were bursting! Does Chavez intend to show off for the last time? This no longer is a gliding flight. He is falling! To steep! The hands are vehemently tugging at the steering. The craft moves upward. The earth is falling behind. The horizon is turning like a disc. The plane, too heavily torn, makes a loop. There, the wings collapse over his head. A horrific crash interrupts the blowing of the wind. Then everything turns black..." (NZZ of 9/24/1910)

Chavez died on September 28, 1910. "Probably, he would have died even without the crash and the resultant injuries as his entire organism had been spent by the titanic struggle."


Helicopter of the Dufaux brothers, 1904

Armand Dufaux, 1882-1941, and Henri Dufaux, 1879-1980. Pioneers of engine-propelled flight in Switzerland.

The Dufaux brothers had been aware of the studies by Otto Lilienthal and had scrupulously followed the exploits of the Wright brothers. Instrumental in the success of their aircraft was their know-how in engineering and designing light engines which they used for their motorcycles Motosacoche they manufactured. They built a helicopter model weighing 17,5 kg with two counter-rotating rotors which in Paris in 1905 performed the world's first helicopter flights with pay load. Many important aviation people attended the demonstration, among them Louis Blériot who wanted to buy an engine from Dufaux, and Alberto Santos-Dumont who, on the basis of these tests, was to focus on the heavier-than-air flying principle.

In 1909, the Dufaux brothers in their shop in Geneva built apparatus no. 3, the world's first functional torso of a biplane. The following year, apparatus no. 4 was ready which Armand Dufaux would use to cross Lake Geneva on August 27, 1910. The flight of 66 km from Villeneuve to Geneva took 56 minutes and was then the longest flight over water, twice as long as Blériot's Channel crossing flight.

"A cannon shot was fired at 6.41 am to announce that the target line had been crossed and the first Lake Geneva crossing become reality. The landing site near Corsier still had to be reached, which meant a turn of 240 degrees. The pilot had to manage it in an unfamiliar way, to the left against the engine's rotating movement. In so doing, another two meters of altitude were lost. Dear engine, just another few minutes!"

A Dufaux double seater participates in maneuvers in 1911 with pilot and observer, the first aircraft used in the service of the Swiss army. In 1911, the Dufaux brothers stopped engineering aircraft. Armand was to open a shop for aircraft spare parts and started engineering hunter planes. Henri turned to painting and extensive traveling on a worldwide scale.

The Dufaux brothers succeeded in taking engine-propelled flight in Switzerland from the experimental and theoretical stages to practical use, thus giving aviation invaluable impulses.


Blériot on July 25, 1909 taking off for his flight across the Channel

Louis Blériot, 1872-1936. First to fly across the Channel.

Louis Blériot was an impulsive, sturdy man, an unmistakable figure with big nose and enormous mustache and, in his capacity as design engineer, a well-to-do manufacturer of motor vehicle accessories. Shortly after the turn of the century, he began to experiment on flying. Before his Channel crossing flight, he had invested his entire fortune as well as the dowry of his wife, all told 780,000 francs, and was facing bankruptcy.

Blériot engineered numerous aircraft types most of which were a failure. Tiny Blériot XI however became legendary: she had a wing span of only 7,8 m, an air-cooled 25 HP engine, a total weight of 300 kg and a maximum speed of 75 KMH. With this monoplane, he was the first to fly across the Channel on July 25, 1909, winning the prize of 1000 pounds offered by the London Daily Mail.

"... I am alone. For ten minutes, I lost all sense of direction. It is an odd situation to be alone, without guidance, without compass, up in the air right above the Channel."
On July 19, his competitor Hubert Latham had landed on the sea attempting the same feat on his Antoinette IV, which had a wing area four times as large.

Blériot's Channel crossing flight changed the national consciousness of England:

"... our fleet to the contrary, England is no longer an impregnable fortress."
"... there is reasonable concern that an invasion of Great Britain is possible from the air…"

Crossing the Channel made Blériot one of the best-known pioneers in the infancy of engine-propelled flight.


Glider 3 by the Wright brothers in 1903

Wilbur Wright, 1867-1912, and Orville Wright, 1871-1948.
World's first dirigible engine-propelled flight in 1903.

In 1900, the Wright brothers engineered their first glider on which they ventured manned and unmanned flights, to be followed by glider 2 and, in particular, glider 3, which formed the basis for the world's first engine-propelled aircraft, built in 1903.

December 17, 1903 probably is the most famous date in the history of aviation: first dirigible flight with an aircraft, Flyer I, 12 seconds, 36 meters. Takeoff was from a catapult, Orville was at the helm after the brothers had flipped a coin and Wilbur had won. However, on his first flight, he got stuck in the sand.

"This flight only took 12 seconds, however, it was the first in the history of mankind whereby an engine by its own force took a human into the air in free flight and, without slowing down, moved above the ground to finally land at a point of the same altitude as the takeoff point…"

In 1904, the Flyer II was completed, carrying out 105 flights, the longest of which was 4.4 km. It was followed by famous Flyer II. It could be steered completely, could take curves and turn around, but had no sufficient inherent stability and had to be controlled all the time to guard against breaking out. Its longest flight was 39 km and took 38 minutes.

In 1970, the Flyer was brought to Europe where at first it was hardly noticed to become world-famous following many successful flights in the proximity of Le Mans. The Flyer was breaking all records and proved that it could rise, take curves and turn around as well as manage circles and "eight" figures. The aircraft is far ahead of Europe's entire competition.

The 20th century's first decade undeniably was the decade of the Wright brothers. More than in the U.S., Europe followed the advances with great admiration.


Hamilton in his naval emergency gear with the unavoidable cigarette in the corner of his mouth

 

Charles Keeny Hamilton, 1885-1914. Legendary show and stunt pilot, surviving 63 crashes.

Hamilton stood for bold men and women who as pilots in aviation's pioneering age risked their necks, thus not only fascinating masses of spectators at flight meetings, but also giving design engineers and inventors invaluable hints as to the development of aircraft.

He lived to be 28 years old-older than many other pilots who in this period suffered fatal accidents. "They died away on us so rapidly that I began to take over the missions of all the others," a young pilot remembered who had joined the Curtiss team in 1910.

Hamilton's career started with a jump from a window, using an umbrella instead of a parachute.

He performed as a balloon pilot at folk festivals, later steered airships until he became so fascinated by Blériot's feats that he decided to learn to fly with Glenn Curtiss. Curtiss put him on the list of his stunt flight team after only a month.

     

Hamilton flew any aircraft in any situation, had extremely strong nerves and had an unfailing sense for the spectacular. He was denied one such spectacular feat at the last moment: for 10,000 dollars, he was ready to fly along New York's Broadway.

Hamilton often flew in his naval emergency gear to soften the blows of his crashes. He survived 63 crashes. Reportedly, his body contained many spare parts like two silver ribs and metallic plates in the scull and on the shin.

"Of the original Hamilton, there was little left."

Hamilton died in his bed in 1914, as predicted by him.


Voisin airplane engineering plant in Paris-Billancourt. Painting of 1908

Gabriel Voisin, 1880-1973, and Charles Voisin, 1882-1912. France's first successful airplane design engineers.

Quite little is known of the first aircraft designed by the Voisin brothers. With 25 HP insufficiently powered and hard to maneuver, the best craft was the Voisin-Delagange, a hopper of 60 meters. The more powerful Antoinette engine managed 500 m followed by a crash landing.

"She could be steered through the air only by force, and when she tilted to one side, the rudder had to be reversed to force her into a normal position. It was quite a risky maneuver."

"The Voisin aircraft were more popular than the Wright Flyers, but there was no possibility to offset rolling motions, and they could only be flown when there was no wind."

The biplane Zugvogel (bird of passage) of 1909 with a 60-HP engine and a speed of 55 KMH unintentionally made a huge contribution to the development of airplanes. It was ordered by Henry Farman, but was sold to England by the Voisin brothers.

Farman proceeded to found his own aircraft engineering plant, further developing the Zugvogel and turning it into the first dirigible airplane.

In 1907, the Voisin brothers opened one of the world's first commercial aircraft engineering plants in Paris-Billancourt. From 1911, they started engineering seaplanes. Gabriel Voisin managed a first seaplane flight on the Seine in 1911.

Charles Voisin died in 1912 in a car accident.

During World War I, first reconnaissance planes and bombers were built.

Under the management of Gabriel Voisin, the plant after the war started manufacturing a number of legendary automobiles whose esthetics and functionality fascinated architect Le Corbusier, among others.


Amelia Earhart in 1932 flew across the Atlantic alone as the first woman pilot

Amelia Earhart, 1897-1937. First world-famous woman pilot. First flights and records.

«Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace with yourself.»
Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897; her father was an alcoholic and often jobless, her family often had no permanent residence. She became a nurse. When she was able to afford to book a short flight for only one dollar, aviation was never to let go of her. After ten flying lessons and several crashes, she made her first solo flight in 1921. The following year, she could buy her first aircraft.
On July 17/18, she became the first woman passenger flying across the North Atlantic, giving her plenty of publicity.

On May 20 - 23, 1932, Amelia flew across the North Atlantic on her own at a new record time of 13½ hours. She was to become world-famous, receiving the Harmon trophy, the highest distinction for women pilots, from the hands of President Hoover.

In January 1935, she made the first solo flight across the Pacific from Honolulu to California. In 1936 she received 50,000 dollars to buy a dual-engine Lockheed Electra. She planned to fly around the earth. It was not the first try, but the longest.

On June 1, 1937, she took off from Miami and, after an intermediary landing, reached Lae on New Guinea on June 29. Ahead of her were still 7000 miles across the Pacific. On July 2, 1937, she took off from Lae for destination Howland Island, a tiny island 2556 miles away, to refuel. En route, the navigation equipment failed. Rather than turning around, Amelia Earhart continued with her flight, and radio contact was lost. Many ships and airplanes participated in the search, but Amelia and her navigator remained for ever lost. Amelia was presumed to erroneously have flown a course 100 miles north-west of Howland and that her airplane crashed into the sea for lack of fuel.

The demise of Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan remains one of aviation's great mysteries.

"Aviation lets her rewrite the history of woman and to gain access to areas that had been the prerogative of men. Earhart is a symbol for social and technological progress in a time when progress was the only hope America could offer a population disillusioned by the depression. Earhart had demonstrated to Americans that they, too, could overcome seemingly invincible obstacles."

 


Santos Dumont on his airship no. 6

Alberto Santos-Dumont, 1873-1932. Brazilian in Paris, airship and engine-propelled flight pioneer.

Santos-Dumont, a rich partner of a coffee plantation, in 1891 came to Paris at the age of 18, a short, slender figure, 1,5 m tall and weighing 40 kg.

In 1898, he engineered the first fuel-powered airship, on October 19, 1901 flying on it as a passenger from St-Cloud to Paris, around the Eiffel tower and back. In so doing, he won the prize of 100,000 francs donated by Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe. This dirigible flight of an aircraft was met with overwhelming spectator interest and big publicity in the press.

He described a crash landing with a balloon near Nizza as follows: "I was drawn amid small trees and retreating shrub, my face all cut and bruised, my clothes torn from my back, in pain and worried, fearing the worst, and yet there was nothing I could do to save myself. Just as I gave myself up, the tow rope was tangled around a tree, holding firm. I was hurled out of the basket, fell down and lost consciousness. When I came to, I had to walk quite a stretch until a met a few farmers. They helped me get back to Nice where I went to bed and had physicians sow me together."

Santos-Dumont was just as important as an engine pilot: on October 23, 1906, he managed Europe's first acknowledged engine-propelled flight on his 14bis, a monstrous contraption with box-like wings and a basket for the pilot, standing erect, with a duration of seven seconds and a distance of 60 meters. On November 12, he managed a flight of 220 meters in 22 seconds. At last, a European succeeded in taking off and being really airborne. In London, Lord Northcliffe shouted into the telephone: "Let me tell you that there can no longer be any talk of quiet sleep behind old England's wooden walls with the Channel as our bulwark. If war should break out, the enemy's flying chariots will land on British soil."
In 1909, Santos-Dumont built his famous light craft "Demoiselle".



Prof. A. Piccard and engineer P. Kipfer, photographed through the manhole of the balloon capsule

Auguste Piccard, 1884-1962. Swiss scientific and balloon pioneer.

To discover the stratosphere and to measure cosmic rays, Piccard with engineer Paul Kipfer on May 27, 1931 made the first balloon journey into the stratosphere, reaching an altitude of 15,781 m.

"5.00 am: everything ideally beautiful, very little drift, region of Lech. Strong air loss... we successfully spilled liquid O2 to improve cabin pressure. Within 25 minutes, we reached an altitude of 15 km. It is snowing inside the cabin!

10.10 am: valve rope cannot be pulled, wheel is turning without effect... we are prisoners of the air. Doomed to wait until 2.00 or 3.00 or 4.00 PM. 10.25 AM: +39° C. Top of bodies fully disrobed, heat bearable this way. Hope we will sink soon.

10.40 am: we lost pressure. Ear! Above in the cabin, awfully hot.

2.09 pm: as we still have a fresh cartridge of potash, we will not suffocate before sundown.

2.50 pm: we try to keep as still as possible to save O2.

4.30 pm: we have been in the stratosphere for 12 hours and cannot sink!

6.08 pm: unbelievable that the balloon will not sink. We can do nothing but wait.

6.35 pm: if only we do not get to the sea.

7.13 pm: balloon has visible pleats.

7.34 pm: I am reducing oxygen consumption to 1.4 liters/minute. Thirst. We are drinking condensation water of the cabin wall.

8.48 pm: saved from suffocation.

8.52 pm: manhole open. After manholes were opened, balloon started sinking rapidly towards high mountains. Disposed of two or three sand bags, landed gently without wind. I preferred not to pull. Then it rose again to land harshly. I let Kipfer pull, several jumps and lucky landing. Around 9.00 pm, i.e. after 17-hour journey."

(Auguste Piccard, "At an atlitude of 15,000 meter", Zurich 1933, excerpts from log-book of "F.N.R.S"'s first flight into the stratosphere from Augsburg to the Gurgl glacier.)

On August 18, 1932, Piccard with Belgian physicist Max Cosyns rose a second time, this time from Dubendorf. With an altitude of 16,940 meters, he achieved a new world record, officially recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique in Paris. In the '40s, Auguste Piccard started engineering diving equipment. His son Jacques on January 23, 1960 on bathyscaph Trieste reached the greatest sea depth with 10,916 meters. His son Bertrand and grand-son of Auguste kept up the balloon tradition and in 1999 was the first to encircle the earth in a balloon, accompanied by Brian Jones.


Maiden flight of the LZ 3 on Lake Constance, 1906

Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin, 1838-1917. Airship pioneer and founder of commercial civil aviation.

In 1895, Zeppelin obtained his first patent for "a dirigible aircraft with several supporting bodies arranged one behind the other." His first rigid aircraft LZ made her maiden voyage from Manzell on Lake Constance on July 2, 1900.

In 1905, the airship LZ 2 cruised with two engines of 85 HP each. In 1905, it attained an altitude of 457 meters and a speed of 53 KMH. One engine failed, the craft was destroyed upon landing.

Graf Zeppelin did not give up: the maiden voyage of the LZ 3 was a great success, the airship traveled 97 km in two hours, returning safely to its starting point.

On August 5, 1908, the LZ 4 was caught by a gust near Echterdingen and destroyed. The Count had now lost everything. A large public was sympathetic to the catastrophe and collected 6.1 million golden mark. The Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH (Airship Manufacturing Limited Liability company) was founded in Friedrichshafen, in 1909 the Deutsche Lufschifffahrt-Aktiengesellschaft (German Airship Transportation stock corporation).

Major German cities began to apply to be part of the Zeppelin transportation network. In June 1910, the LZ 7 made six scheduled journeys with paying passengers, however, on its seventh journey, it was destroyed upon ground contact due to bad weather. The LZ 8 was hit by lightning as it was taken from the hangar, burning out. This accident resulted in establishing a first weather forecast service.

The LZ 10 "Schwaben" reached a speed of 75 KMH and could accommodate 24 passengers. One year after its first journey, the LZ 10 managed to escape a severe storm. It was possible to have the passengers go from board before the airship was hurled against a hanger, burning out

LZ 13 "Hansa" and LZ 17 "Sachsen" (Saxony) complemented the fleet. In 1784 voyages, 27,773 passengers were being transported by 1913, covering 273,600 km without any harm to the passengers.

The most famous of all airships, the LZ 127 "Graf Zeppelin" between 1928 and 194 carried out 570 voyages, crossing the Atlantic 114 times.

Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin was the founder of commercial aviation. His airships paved the way for global airline systems.


Spelterini's takeoff outside of Switzerland. Spelterini stands at the edge of the basket, saluting

Eduard Spelterini, 1852-1931. Important Swiss balloon pioneer.

Spelterini was born as Eduard Schweizer in Bazenheid SG on June 2, 1852. Following completion of his schooling, he planned to be a professional singer. In Paris, he stumbled upon a balloon venture where one of the co-passengers had bowed out on account of bad weather. The singer quickly decided to go along, thus starting his career as a balloon pilot.

"... everywhere, the squat, strong stranger with his proud, dreamy eyes and strong facial features won friends and supportive sponsors. He could rely on two reliable helpers: his unwavering self-assurance and his extraordinary skills."

Spelterini started his Swiss balloon journeys in 1891. On July 15, the Urania for the first time took off from Zurich near the Pfauen square. "The airship voyage of captain Spelterini yesterday attracted enormous crowds. Not only the urban population was there in large numbers, showing a keen interest in the rare spectacle, also from the surrounding area there were crowds of spectators.". Numerous additional journeys, also with celebrity passengers like Prof. A. Heim and Graf Zeppelin, made Spelterini one of the most popular figures of his time, particularly with the young.

In late 1893, Spelterini left Switzerland. His traces led to Russia and Belgium. He began to take photographs from the balloon basket, thus also becoming a pioneer of aerial photography.

On October 1, 1898, Spelterini took off from Sitten for his journey into the Alps in specially-designed balloon Wega, carrying Professor Arnold Heim as one of the passengers. "The passengers board. The silence descending upon the square thronged by massive crowds, turned into anguish. The spectators were touched, many cried. The last ropes were untied and the men positioned in front of the gondola. 'Is there nothing missing, do you have everything?' 'Watch out, let go!' The huge golden-brown ball was floating upward quietly."

Over the Diablerets peaks, the trail-blazing journey led to the French Jura mountains where they land near Rivière at 4.30 pm. There were another six major Alpine journeys on the balloons Sirius, Stella and Jupiter.

Spelterini, who after 1904 made journeys in many countries, in his 43-year career as a pilot took off 570 times carrying a total of 1237 passengers. He is considered one of the great pioneers in ballooning and aerial photography in Europe.


Dirigible airship Pauli according to a historic edging

Samuel Johannes Pauli, 1766-1806. Swiss inventor and airship builder.

"Born in Berne, Pauli is a well-documented, but legendary person, mentally far ahead of his time. He wrote down the basic principles of airship engineering. He may be called Switzerland's first airship expert. He recognized that round bodies are ill-suited for moving in any liquid (also air)."

Only the shape of a fish or body of a bird would do, he reportedly said. Pauli also recognized the necessity of having the envelope stiffened. Forward movement was to be achieved by beating wings. A tail fin served to control sideway movement and to stabilize the horizontal position. For vertical steering, a barrel that could be moved in the longitudinal axis was planned; this barrel could also be used to hold ballast. Compare this with the LZ 1 of Graf Zeppelin!

When the French attacked Berne on May 5, 1798, Pauli was in charge of the battery above the Schänzli redoubt. The draft of a contract Pauli concluded with three prominent citizens of Berne dated back to this turbulent time. In it, he pledged "... to build a machine which, by means of mechanical devices and inflammable air, will fly in any direction and altitude (excepting stormy weather)." "Messrs. Pauli and Steinauer promised to journey from Berne to London in said machine (following previous tests)." The contract was never performed.

Pauli went to Paris to come across a collaborator and financier as well as the protection of Marshall Ney. He engineered an airship which on its test journey on September 22, 1804 proved to have a "certain maneuverability"."Mr. Pauli, a born Swiss and skilled mechanic, built an air balloon which he directs as he pleases by means of a simple mechanical device. With it he can rise and sink, lets it move in a diagonal line, turns it as he pleases, passing several miles in one hour without the slightest wind."

Pauli went to England and on April 25, 1814 obtained a royal patent for an airship and the sole right for a planned transportation service.
Pauli spent two years building his new airship Dolphin which was almost completed when he died in 1806. There was never to be a test voyage; as a result, he was perhaps spared bitter disappointment.

Pictures pertaining to topic:

 

Streets and squares

 

High resolution

 

Lilienthal

 

Lindbergh 1

 

Lindbergh 2

 

Farman

 

Chavez

 

Dufaux

 

Bleriot

 

Wright

 

Hamilton

 

Earhart

 

Earhart

 

Santos

 

Piccard

 

Zeppelin

 

Spelt

 

Pauli

 
       
   

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