Impractical idea No. 103


In one of the more iconic images of the early 20th century, a faked photograph shows a blimp mooring at the top of the Empire State Building. The tower was originally designed with such moorings in mind, but the entire idea was a bust from the get-go.


Here’s the schematic showing how passengers would disembark from a transatlantic dirigible, take stairs down from the 103rd floor platform to the 102nd, and then the elevator to a processing station on the 86th floor. never mind that dirigibles had their passenger compartment in the center, and passengers would be required to navigate narrow passages to get to any potential nose exit.


The 103rd floor is largely a mechanical room, but it has a narrow door leading to the outside balcony:


If you’re a dignitary, there’s a chance you can get up there for a photo op – here former Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Notice how low the balcony wall is, which is why the general public is not permitted.


As for why they never went ahead with the dirigible plan?


The US Navy, testing its airship the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), saw it rise to a near-vertical position, after her tail rose out-of-control while she was moored at the high mast at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1927.

Airships can only be moored by the nose at such masts, and severe updrafts from the Empire State Building would have whipped any dirigible around like a child’s balloon.

Well, at least they managed it somehow in “Fringe.”


Showing the alternate universe to the military

The Old Wolf has spoken.

2 responses to “Impractical idea No. 103

  1. The idea was a bust, but they tried to implement it in lots of places before they finally gave up – Los Angeles City Hall has the same basic rig on the roof of their tower and it met the same fate, even though the building isn’t nearly as tall and updrafts wouldn’t have been as severe an issue. (L.A. did restore the “Lindbergh Beacon” recently, and they turn it on for special occasions.)

    For any mooring to a tall building you would need the Dirigible Crew to be watching the trim and wind shifts every single second, and there would be severe safety risks making that transfer. “That first step is a whopper!” Even with safety harnesses… >_<

    Empire State would never work as a dirigible mast today – look at the modern photo with all the TV and Radio broadcasting antennas slathered all over, including the spire covered with antennas replacing the adjustable mooring mast.

    Those aren't copper water pipes on the 103rd Floor, those are hand-made RF waveguides going up to all the antennas on the Spire. The transmitters are somewhere below 86, or on 90 to 101. Uncle Fester's bulb would be lit up like crazy with all the Stray RF energy in the air.

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