When the World Came to Campus, 1909

The Dirigible

“That airship will absorb the attention, absolutely, of every person in the city while it is in sight. I have seen men run out of barber shops half-shaved, and clerks run out of unguarded jewelry stores to stare at the gasbag as it floated by,” noted the manager of the dirigible that flew over the AYP during the opening days of the Exposition. Sponsored by the U.S. government, the dirigible drew a great deal of attention from the public as it cruised over Seattle and above Second Avenue. Aeronaut J.C. “Bud” Mars flew the airship that measured 68 feet in length and 22 feet in diameter.

To fly the dirigible, Mr. Mars sat astride the airship's wooden frame holding the cords by which the ship's rudder was controlled. On his hands were protective bandages to keep the cords from cutting his hands. While all of the public were attracted to the dirigible, women were particularly drawn to this unique form of transportation. Even though they did not take passengers, the airship's manager commented that so many women were eager to ascend in the balloon that they were a “positive nuisance.” “Women look upon airship operators with admiration akin to worship,” he stated.

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