This was then: Zeppelin over Gay Head

Zeppelin Over Gay Head – Photo courtesy of Chris Baer

An airship floats past the Gay Head Cliffs in the late 1920s or early 1930s, to the delight of chilly onlookers.

Dan Grossman of identifies this vessel as the U.S. Navy’s ZR-3, the U.S.S. Los Angeles. Built in Germany by the Zeppelin Co., the ZR-3 was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1924 in what was to be the world’s last nonstop transatlantic flight until Lindbergh’s famous solo flight in 1927. It was over 650 feet long, with a crew of 43, and built with all the accommodations of a long-distance commercial airliner, including sleeping compartments and a first-class galley. For the next eight years, this helium-filled airship flew hundreds of goodwill, publicity, and training flights around the United States and as far south as the Panama Canal. Its final flight was in 1932.

The Gay Head Life Saving Station is visible here at cliff’s edge directly below the passing airship.

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.