The Graf Zeppelin (LZ-127) was built by the Zeppelin Company. The commercial flights
of the Graf Zeppelin, along with the Hindenburg, pioneered the first trans-Atlantic air service.
The Graf Zeppelin was completed in 1928. The first trial flight was made on September 18, 1928,
followed by additional flights on September 20, 26, 28, October 2 and 8th. On October 11, 1928
the Graf Zeppelin departed Friedrichshafen, Germany on its first trans-Atlantic crossing to
Lakehurst, New Jersey.
In 1929 the Graf Zeppelin left Friedrichshafen to make the first flight round-the-world by
an airship. Here's the complete story of this most famous and memorable trip in the history of air
The round-the-world flight attempt really began on May 14, 1929 when the Graf departed from
Friedrichshafen for its trip to Lakehurst. It didn't get too far when an engine breakdown forced
a landing at Cuers, France. The engine was repaired and the Graf returned to Friedrichshafen.
Mail carried on board the Graf received a one-line cachet reading "Due to mishap the flight was
delayed for the first America trip". It became known as the "Interrupted America Flight." The mail
was held at Friedrichshafen until August 1, 1929 when the Graf made another attempt to cross the
Atlantic for Lakehurst (Leg #0). The delayed mail was backstamped in New York on August 5, 1929.
Lakehurst was to become the official point of origin for the round-the-world trip. William
Randolph Hearst had paid $100,000 dollars to finance this round-the-world trip conditioned on it
beginning when it passed the Statue of Liberty in New York.
On August 8, 1929 piloted by Dr Hugo Eckener, the Graf departed Lakehurst for its return flight
to Friedrichshafen arriving there on August 10th (Leg #1). It carried a crew of forty with twenty
two passengers and thousands of pieces of mail. Amongst the passengers were Charles E. Rosendahl
(US Navy Commander of the Zeppelin, Los Angeles), Lieutenant Jack Richardson, Lady Grace Drummond
Hay (Hearst Press Rep) and Sir Hubert Wilkins (Arctic explorer).
On August 15th the Graf then left Germany for Kasumigaura Naval Air Station near Tokyo, Japan
arriving there on August 18th (Leg #2). On August 23rd the Graf bade farewell to Japan and
headed for the United States flying over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge arriving at Los
Angeles, California on August 26th (Leg #3). The following day it left LA for Lakehurst, New
Jersey arriving there on August 29th (Leg #4). The Graf then returned to Friedrichshafen arriving
there on September 4th (Leg #5).
As you can see, the Graf Zeppelin round-the-world trip would be viewed from two perspectives.
The Germans saw the round-the-world flight from Friedrichshafen to Friedrichshafen (Leg #2 to
Leg #5 - 12 days, 11 hours, 28 minutes flying time). The Americans would view the same
round-the-world flight from Lakehurst to Lakehurst (Leg #1 to Leg #4 - 12 days 11 minutes flying
Schedule of Distances:
Leg #0 Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst, NJ 4391 miles
Leg #1 Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen, Germany 4391 miles
Leg #2 Friedrichshafen to Tokyo, Japan 6988 miles
Leg #3 Tokyo to Los Angeles 5998 miles
Leg #4 Los Angeles to Lakehurst 2996 miles
Leg #5 Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen 4391 miles
Special cachets and other postal markings were applied by each country (Germany, Japan and
the United States) to the mail carried by the Graf Zeppelin on its round-the-world journey.
Postal rates from the United States:
From Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen (#1) $1.05 letter/$0.35 card
From Lakehurst to Tokyo, Japan $2.05 letter/$1.03 card
From Lakehurst to Los Angles $3.02 letter/$1.51 card
From Lakehurst to Lakehurst $3.52 letter/$1.76 card
From Lakehurst to Friedrichshafen (#5) $1.20 letter/$0.60 card
Postal rates from Japan:
From Tokyo to Los Angeles Y2.10 letter/Y1.06 card
From Tokyo to Lakehurst Y3.10 letter/Y1.56 card
From Tokyo to Friedrichshafen Y5.10 letter/Y2.56 card
Postal rates from Germany:
From Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst (#0) M 4.0 letter/M 2.0 card
From Friedrichshafen to Tokyo M 4.0 letter/M 2.0 card
From Friedrichshafen to Los Angeles M 8.0 letter/M 4.0 card
From Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst (#4) M10.0 letter/M 5.0 card
From Friedrichshafen to Friedrichshafen M14.0 letter/M 7.0 card
It is interesting to note that Lady Grace Drummond-Hay as a passenger on this RTW voyage
became the first woman to fly across the Pacific Ocean.