If you should ever find yourself in Rio de Janeiro, which sounds like a great idea to me, then travel about fifty miles to the west to Santa Cruz to visit a very eerie place.

It could just be me, but I find airships remarkably spooky. I get the feeling that this could be some sort of inherited memory because my ancestors were from Great Yarmouth which was severely attacked by zeppelins in WW1 – one ancestor died in a zeppelin raid. Or maybe I’m just strange.

But anyway, the zeppelins, silent and deadly, were spooky enough but they needed huge hangars to house them when they weren’t at work terrorizing the UK.

And after WW1, airships were used as a means of transport. They could cross the Atlantic in half the time of a ship and the accommodations were equally luxurious.

So between 1931 and 1936, zeppelins operated a transatlantic route between Germany and South America. The US had various weather problems initially that made Brazil the better destination to aim for.

The facility was built specifically to house the two huge airships that were traversing the Atlantic – the Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg. Lighter-than-air travel soon dropped out of favour though because of the appalling Hindenberg disaster which took place in 1937. You can see it via the news coverage which is shown on the video below.

There had, of course, been other airship disasters over the years and some had been more tragic but the Hindenburg was the first that the public had actually seen the disaster as it has happened due to news footage and cinema news. It put an end to the through of further airship travel.

Note that if you’re going to go to see this monstrosity – which is now listed as a National Heritage site – the airport changed its name in 1943 and is now known as the  Santa Cruz Air Force Base. So that’s what you’re looking for on signposts and what you’ll need to tell your satnav.

How to Find the Bartolomeu de Gusmão Airport

Bartolomeu de Gusmão Airport

R. Ten. César,
1111 – Santa Cruz,
Rio de Janeiro – RJ,
23555-230, Brazil




JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.

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