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Patent US5090637 - Helium purification system for lighter-than-air aircraft - Google Patents

The Dead Dream of the Dirigible

Given how paradigmatic airplanes have become, though, it's easy to forget how similarly paradigmatic airships once were. If technology is a kind of Darwinian race, dirigibles and their counterparts spent a long time, actually, winning. In the 1930s, as the Empire State Building grew beam by beam and slab by slab, people awaited -- and expected -- a future that would find them voyaging and dining and sleeping and dancing in the sky.

Hindenburg coffee pot, cup, saucer, and napkin holder, 1936. The dining room tables invited passengers to three meals a day with white linens, fresh flowers, sterling silver, and porcelain china service created for the ship. The chief steward and up to six waiters provided superlative service. Passengers placed their linen napkins in holders after the meal so that they could be reused and save precious weight.

Strangers' Journey: 1930: Real Cardington: