dornier do x

The Dornier Do X, Over New York City, c1931

The Do X was the largest, most powerful flying boat in the world when it was produced by the Dornier company in 1929. Built on the Swiss side of Lake Constance in order to circumvent the Treaty of Versailles which forbade any aircraft exceeding set speed and range limits to be built in Germany after World War 1, the Do X’s luxurious passenger accommodation approached the standards of transatlantic liners. On the main deck was a smoking room with its own wet bar, dining salon, and seating for 66 passengers which could also be converted to sleeping berths for night flights. The cockpit, navigational office, engine control and radio rooms were on the upper deck. The Flugschiff (flying ship), as it was called, was launched on 12 July 1929. On its 70th test flight there were 169 on board, a new world record for a single flight. As a result of the ship’s size, passengers were asked to crowd together on one side or the other to help make turns. To introduce the airliner to the United States the Do X took off from Germany on 3 November 1930 for New York. The route took in the Netherlands, England, France, Spain, and Portugal. The journey was interrupted at Lisbon when a tarpaulin made contact with a hot exhaust pipe and started a fire that consumed most of the port side wing. After sitting in Lisbon harbor for six weeks it continued along the Western coast of Africa and by 5 June 1931 had reached the Capverdian Islands, from which it crossed the ocean to Natal in Brazil, where the crew were greeted as heroes by the German émigré community. The flight finally reached New York on 27 August 1931, almost nine months after departing Germany. The Do X and crew spent the next nine months there as its engines were overhauled, and thousands of sightseers made the trip to tour the leviathan of the air. The Great Depression dashed Dornier’s marketing plans however and it departed New York for Berlin on May 21, 1932 where it was met by a cheering crowd of 200,000.