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Author Topic: Airship Captains Authority  (Read 730 times)
19th Century Space Pilot
Snr. Officer
United Kingdom United Kingdom

« on: August 22, 2009, 02:48:16 pm »

Just wondering about this, and wondering whether any of you guys on here will know the answer: did the Captains of Airships have the same authority a seagoing ships captain, or was there authority limited in the same way as an Airliners Captain? In effect, a ships Captain has the same power as a Governor while they are in international waters (though still under the law of whatever flag the ship sails under), so I was wondering whether or not, for example, the Graf Zeppellin's Captain had the same authority.

Now for some shameless self promotion...

 - Aetheric Aviatrix
Zeppelin Captain
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Steamed up from birth

« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2009, 05:39:00 pm »

Very interesting question. Part of the answer may lie in where the said captains were recruited from. I think by and large the military airships drew their crews from their respective navies, because of the need to be adept with rope handling etc.

If you look at the films of the Hindenburg you will see for example that when they arrive at a mooring mast (naval term) a sailor leaps from a hole in the nose to help secure the airship. This maneouvre is identical to that undertaken by the "Buoy jumper" in the Royal Navy in former times - he had to get from the ship onto a mooring buoy to secure the ship's first mooring line. Very hazardous. Naval and Merchant captains did and do indeed have pretty much absolute rule, but nowadays that would mostly be moderated by national legislation. They are certainly no longer "Masters under God" as the old saying had it.

As for the civilian ones, my impression is that they were run as airlines and so may have recruited from the early civil airline pilots. In those cases I am not so sure of my international law, but I believe that a civil aircraft, even if very high in the sky, remains legally a bit of the nation in which it is registered.. I dont think airline captains ever had the right to marry people but they would certainly be involved in the registration of any births or deaths on board.

A comparison to this ambiguity arose when hovercraft first took to the sea. Both airline pilots and merchant navy deck officers were recruited as the definition of the craft was itself dual: at sea but not on it, and moving far far faster than anything else on the sea. I was a merchant navy deck officer myself and always dreaded crossing the path of the hovercraft ferries in the English Channel - they were very very fast but at the same time impossible to fully control in a crosswind.

So it's every hand to his rope or gun, quick's the word and sharp's the action. After all... Surprise is on our side.
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