For persons suffering with tuberculosis, or just from nerves, will physicians soon prescribe a trip to the clouds in a flying clinic instead of a visit to the mountains?

Not long ago Charles L. Julliot, French lawyer, proposed that airplanes or dirigibles transport such patients above the clouds. His suggestion, which America hears was approved by the medical faculties of France, called attention to the fact that high altitude and sunshine produce well-known changes in the blood, in many cases beneficial. Add to this the natural exhilaration of an air trip, he says, and the effect might be even better than that of a mountain vacation (P.S.M., Mar. ’30, p. 34).

Dr. Karl Arnstein, vice president and chief engineer of the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, and the man in charge of building the Navy’s great new airships at Akron, O., has described for Popular Science Monthly just how this hospital airship might be designed. The drawing of the “flying clinic” shown above was prepared from data supplied by Dr. Arnstein.

Like a huge blister, on top of the airship, would rise the aerial sanatorium, with suitable provision for the care and comfort of the patients. In that position it would receive the full benefits of sunlight. Its walls and roof would be studded with windows, the panes made of celluloid or some similar material which transmits the healthful rays of the sun. Glass would be ruled out because of the danger of breaking and the added weight.

In shape and probably in size the body of the airship would follow the de- sign of the two 6,500,000-cubic-foot airships being built for the Navy. A hospital airship of this size would be able to stay aloft for weeks at a time. An airplane carried inside its hull could maintain communication with the ground and if necessary make trips for special medicines and supplies.

The skipper of such an airship would maneuver his craft according to the weather. By cruising about to dodge storms, and soaring upward whenever clouds threatened to cut off its sunlight, a practically stable and unchanging weather condition could be maintained.

  1. Kosher Ham says: January 6, 20121:09 pm

    Less oxygen in the air helps cure TB?

  2. DrewE says: January 6, 20122:36 pm

    I wonder what was intended to prevent the craft from toppling upside-down, as what would appear to be the heaviest bits are at the top. There’s good reason why blimps, dirigibles, and hot-air balloons all have the cabins (or equivalent) at their bottom.

  3. Hirudinea says: January 6, 20123:07 pm

    They never heard of sun lamps in France?

  4. Nomen Nescio says: January 6, 20124:06 pm

    i think i’ve seen this posted here before, actually.

    and no, i doubt less oxygen in the air does anything for or against tuberculosis. but they tried everything they could think of, and a lot of things they shouldn’t have, in those days before antibiotics — understandable, it’s a nasty disease that gives you plenty of time to become desperate and try weird things “just in case”. as TB strains become increasingly antibiotic-resistant, those days may yet return…

  5. whoozle whaazle says: January 6, 20127:03 pm

    I like to be burned into a crisp ! And if I put on some bronzer, I will look like bacon !

    Mmmm….bacon *insert Homer Simpsons drooling sounds*

  6. Sean says: January 6, 20128:16 pm

    @Whoozle: Thought that was a Hindenburg joke at first….

  7. Mike says: January 6, 20128:19 pm

    Nomen, It looks familiar to me also.

  8. Sean says: January 6, 20128:21 pm

    A lawyer came up with this idea? Guess that makes sense…. Think of the litigation potential!

    With the weight of the control car, engines, fuel, ballast, maintaining an even keel would not be too much of a problem, but there would certainly be some swaying and being sick with either TB or, worse yet, a case of nerves, and swinging about at the top of the arc of a 90ft pendulum doesn’t sound too fun.

  9. Sean says: January 6, 20128:23 pm


    Yup. A few months ago.

  10. LightningRose says: January 7, 20125:17 pm

    Cold, dry, air as may be found at higher altitudes helps relieve the symptoms of TB and gives the patient a chance at putting the disease into remission without drugs.

    Before there were effective antibiotics there were many TB sanitariums here in my home state of Colorado.

    Doc Holiday, the infamous gunfighter, died at a sanitarium in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

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