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. Tim says: August 2, 201111:30 am

    Seems like putting a large, heavy “blister” on the top of the zeppelin would cause it to perform a rather catastrophic inverted flight.

  2. Sean says: August 3, 20114:48 am

    Agreed. It seems like 1930’s airship articles always seem to do this. While the medical doctor who vaguely describes this ship to PS’s crazed artists at least has some reason for putting the passenger cabin on top, I have to think that there’s a deeper desire to transmute expectations of ocean travel to airships must be at work to account for the number of such ships shown in literature like this, and the complete lack of them in real life.

  3. Sean says: August 3, 20114:52 am

    I’d also mention that there’s no way that 6.5mil ft^3 could lift that hospital as well as a parasite airplane, particularly not if, as the drawing seems to indicate, the ship uses the same overly robust framework as the Akron and Macon. Those were both bare-bones military vessels with no spare lift for cargo or luxurious passenger accommodations, particularly those required by 1930’s medicine. No iron lungs on this ship!

  4. George says: August 4, 20114:38 am

    How does the airplane land when it returns with supplies?

  5. Sean says: August 4, 20114:49 am

    Though the drawing doesn’t show the hook on the plane, presumably it would be in the same manner as the USS Akron and Macon, the Navy’s flying aircraft carriers.…

    Both ships carried up to 5 fighters for defense and scouting in a hanger in their belly. For launching, they would be lowered out of a hole in the bottom of the hull and released. For recovery, the planes basically had a giant hook on their top wing which would catch a ‘trapeze’ lowered from the ship. The plane would then be secured and pulled back up into the hull.

    The system worked very well and hundreds of landing and takeoffs were made. After the crash of both ships, the only further use of a similar system were tests done on the Hindenburg with a rigid trapeze that would have allowed a plane to deliver last minute mail to the ship before it started over the ocean. If you’ve seen ‘Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade’, they show this plane. Unfortunately though, for the Doctors Jones, the real one wasn’t armed. 🙂

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