National Geographic : 1925 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Pacific and Atlantic LEAVING FORT WORTH "This big airship is in reality a flying laboratory, which by its construction and operation is developing not only a new element in the national defense, but is testing the efficiency and adaptability of allied industries which in time will become of extreme importance in the utilization of air navigation as a commercial enterprise."-Lieutenant Commander Lansdowne. "Is the ship light?" Lansdowne asks. "Not yet, sir," the mast replies. "Is her nose secure? Is Rosendahl aboard ?" he asks in a single breath. "Yes, sir; she's just about in equi librium," Lieutenant C. E. Rosendahl re plies, without regard to sequence, as he comes down the ladder. "Let me know the minute she is light," Lansdowne requests. "About equilibrium," the mast replies. "Let go as soon as she will lift out of the cone," he orders. "Stand by the water for emergency aft," Commander Hancock orders. Lieutenant Houghton grips two of the handles more firmly. One pull and 550 pounds will be dropped by each. "Elevators amidships, Allenly," Lans downe orders. "Tail's a little down, sir," the mast ad vises. "Take your time," Lansdowne replies. "I don't want to get off heavy." Everybody knows that the clamps, which fit like bent fingers into the rim of the cone, have been released, and that the big ship, gently balancing her length on the still air, will float free from the mast like a feather. "Five seconds on no," Lansdowne orders. Houghton switches handles and pulls. Five seconds spill 300 pounds of water ballast. In the keel 2,2oo-pound rubber bags hang on each side of frames 40, Ioo, Ilo, and 170. Each of them drops 30 pounds a second when a handle in the control car is pulled. Four emergency bags are at frames 30 and 180 and two at 194, each of which drops 550 pounds of water ballast in one splash. Only 300 pounds lighter, but she starts to rise. "Free, captain!" comes a shout from the mast. THE SHIP STARTS TO SETTLE The ship sways just a little more. Slowly she starts to settle, as she falls away from the supporting mast. "Water forward !" Lansdowne ex claims, sliding from the window to his feet. Her nose stops, poised and almost im perceptibly starts upward. Aft she is still dropping. "Water aft!" he exclaims. Houghton is pulling handles and water is pouring on the ground. She teeters like a swing board.