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Suter Lenkballon 1901
Inspired by the experiments of Graf von Zeppelin, Heinrich Suter of Arbon, Switzerland, built an airship of 40 metres length. The Paris-made, cigar-shaped, 5-chamber envelope had a reported volume of 1000 m³. The movements of the LTA/HTA craft were carried out by propellers, while the balloon was used only to lift the machine and aeronaut. On a wooden pole under the balloon hung by a ball joint, was the actual flying machine, which enabled a free, independent movement of the two parts. Suter’s connection of a balloon with a flying machine was based on the principles of Ingenieur Kreß of Vienna. In Gustav Adolf Saurer, the founder of the “Ersten Schweizerischen Velociped-Fabrik Arbon”, Suter found the perfect construction partner. Inside the metal structure that connected to the ball joint, he built a velo-drive. Pedals drove outside of the “cage”, mounted and by hand, a pivotable double propeller. In this way, Suter believed to be able to control the occurrence of different air currents, while the position of the steering sail could also be altered manually. On April 19, 1901, from the purpose-built shed at the Hotel “du Lac” the inflated airship was pulled to the shore of Lake Constance. Many curious onlookers as well as journalists were in attendance to witness the spectacular event. At first everything went according to plan – Suter increased the pressure on the pedals and circled the steerable airship over Steinacherbucht bay. Suddenly the wind shifted, and at low altitude drove it into the branches of a tree on the Steinach shore, ending the maiden voyage. As for Suter, he lacked the funds to conduct further tests and the project was terminated shortly thereafter.

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