The 1933 American Steamship Guide listing for the Grap Zeppelin’s airship service from Germany to Rio de Janeiro via Barcelona, Pernambuco and Sevilla Connections could be made with Pan American Airways. (Click on image to have a full view.)
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, it seemed that hydrogen and helium-filled airships, not propeller-driven planes, would be the future of intercontinental air travel. The Empire State Building‘s crowning tower was designed as an airship mooring mast.
The Graf Zeppelin over Rio de Janeiro…
In 1930, the Graf Zeppelin (built in 1928) inaugurated regularly scheduled transatlantic service between Frankfurt and Rio de Janeiro, flying at a top speed of 70 miles per hour and making the coast-to-coast trip in a mere 60 hours — as opposed to nearly two weeks by steamship. Here, a British newsreel cameraman is among the lucky 20 passengers to travel aboard the luxurious Graf on her flight to Rio.
British Newsreel film… The first flying from Hamburg to Rio into the Giant of the Skies. Flying over Fernando de Noronha Islands, Recife, Salvador and coming down to Rio de Janeiro.
O primeiro vôo do dirigível Graf Zeppelin de Hamburgo ao Rio de Janeiro. Cenas do sobrevôo em Fernando de Noronha, Recife, Salvador e finalmente chegando ao Rio.
Dining aboard the airship.
South American Service
By the summer of 1931, after many pioneering flights which demonstrated the airship’s impressive capabilities and captured the enthusiasm of the world, Graf Zeppelin began regularly scheduled commercial service on the route between Germany and South America.
The passage to South American was an almost ideal route for a German airship; Brazil and Argentina had a considerable German population, and there were strong business and trade connections between these countries and Germany, yet the transportation of mail, passengers, and freight by ship took weeks. In addition, the ships to South America were far less comfortable than the luxury liners which crossed the North Atlantic to New York. Graf Zeppelin reduced the travel time between Germany and South America from weeks to days, and was therefore hugely popular.
The world’s major authority on the airships is Dan Grossman. Visit his great website for complete information on the Graf Zeppelin and The Hindenburg.