PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE
Past on Parade: Lowe 's airship viewed in 1910 as aviation advance
Pasadena Star-News (CA) - Sunday, January 2, 2011
Author: Sid Gally, Correspondent
PASADENA - Professor T.S.C. Lowe is mostly remembered in Pasadena as the creator of the mountain railway above Altadena.
Earlier, he learned to isolate
lighter-than-air gases, became a balloonist and ran the Union Army air
observation service in the Civil War. He made lots of money by selling
his patents for making illuminating gas.
He was an inventor and promoter - and not all his ventures succeeded.
One of these was the Lowe Planet
Airship as described in a 1910 brochure in the collection of the
Pasadena Museum of History. The illustration is intended to show his
future airship nearing Echo Mountain, where he had an observatory.
The airship was a hydrogen-filled
balloon carrying a passenger compartment with a navigation room atop.
The balloon was treated with a secret Lowe process to make it
impervious to the gas. Two automobile engines drove propellers to move
The Pasadena Board of Trade gave its unqualified approval to the venture.
The introduction to the booklet by
the Aerial Publishing Co. of Los Angeles said, "The aircraft of the
type and size herein considered will transport twenty to fifty
passengers, with as luxurious comfort and safety as a Pullman Car or
They added, seeking investors, "That
the Lowe Planet Airship is the next great movement in aerial navigation
and therefore offers the best financial investment in the world, will
not be doubted after a careful perusal of the following pages."
The writer, perhaps Lowe himself,
said of the balloon, "After years of personal experience and a thorough
study of the experiments off others, Professor Lowe has demonstrated
that the globular form is the only safe and practical method of airship
construction. It requires no framework to support its shape, presents
the least surface to aerial currents in proportion to its carrying
capacity and is in no danger of tilting."
The ship required no special landing
or takeoff area, had anchors for land or sea, and could be folded up
for shipping, both the balloon itself and the compartments.
The brochure ends, "Hence the
promoters of the Lowe Planet Airship confidently affirm the immense
superiority of their aircraft over that of any other type, in
principles and details of construction, lifting capacity, easy control,
comfort and safety of passengers."