A Sport That Never Gained Popularity

Jeeves, Get My Dirigible Ready!!!

The headline in the New York Times of March 7, 1909 proclaimed, Aerial Yachting Promises to be the Real Thing in Sport.  For some reason, this sport never took off – if you’ll pardon the pun.

Aerial Yachting would be for “the sport loving public who want the latest thing to machines that can be conveniently managed in the air and accommodate from three passengers up to half a dozen or so, making the trip socially pleasant apart from the novelty of the expedition.”

All you would need to participate would be a large sum of money to have a massive 100 foot plus dirigible powered by a motor constructed for you. Then of course you’d have to figure out how to fly the thing on your own because there weren’t too many aviators at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Clement-Bayard ship illustrated in the accompanying article below, was 175 feet long and had made successful flights over Paris.  Mr. Adolph Clement the builder of that dirigible, planned to open an agency at his automobile showrooms in New York to promote dirigible flights.

This was the dawn of aviation and World War I would see the dirigible used extensively for military purposes. The luxury aspect of dirigibles as a sport, never really caught on with the wealthy.

Original Times Article March 7, 1909 – click to enlarge


One thought on “A Sport That Never Gained Popularity

  1. Jorge Luis

    Who knows?? Maybe this is an idea that has yet to be … I know I would certainly enjoy it, I can’t be the only one. After all we live in a world, where ultra-lite aircraft and hang-gliders are now effectively over 40 years old and quite mature as a sport, as in “seen that, have the t-shirt” sort of thing. It also sounds like a business opportunity, with ultralite weight parts and engines borrowed from other sports, one could easily have something in the air that would be attractive, that could be sold in kit form via the internet to a worldwide market.

    I would love to take mine to Burning-Man 2013, it would be a hit! — perfect for advertising too – the Google Dirigible does not sound too far fetch. – If built, it would potentially get hired as a “MacGuffin” for some Hollywood movie too (think Bond’s jet-pack for the 21st century), paying for most of the costs in one fell swoop. — I imagine what the sport would really need to take-off (sorry, I could not resist) is a good old fashioned contest or rally, et al like cross-the-channel, or maybe the “Kenosha-Mackinaw” an air-race across lake Michigan, the Discovery Channel could do a reality show, and poof! an over-night-sensation and new national extreme sport craze for 13yo boys- I’ll bet Virgin-Air’s Sir Richard Branson is building one minutes after reading this ~JL jorgedlt@gmail.com


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