Reported in the News Letter on October 24, 1928: Never again! Zeppelin passenger tells of flight ordeal

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“Never again!” Mr Frederick J Gilfillan, wealthy American, whose home is at Lucerne, Switzerland, made this comment on the Atlantic flight of the Graf Zeppelin, on which he was a passenger, when he arrived at Plymouth yesterday in the Mauretania.

He is the first of the crew or passengers of the airship to return to Europe from America and he still bore traces of the strain of the adventure.

“I think I am a very lucky man to be talking to you today,” he told a Press Association reporter who interviewed him on the liner.

“I have come back safe and sound after a journey in the air, which I would never have taken had I dreamt of its dangers.

“To my mind, cross Atlantic Zeppelin services will not be practicable for many, many years, not until they can build airships with more powerful engines and proportionately larger. They have to be capable of a minimum speed of 100 miles an hour in the teeth of a head wind.

“My fare cost me £600.

“We were flung about the airship like so many ninepins, suffering great discomfort, and I was so upset after the first day’s journey that I was unable to eat anything.

“I, and a young Swiss and Lady Drummond Hay, were the ordinary passengers who had gone out of curiosity. I was looked upon with curiosity and referred to as the ‘mystery man’ – not because there was any mystery about me, but purely for the reason that I made myself unpopular by expressing frank outspoken views about the flight.

“I think Lady Drummond Hay is a sport, and a brave sport.

“Also I think the Graf Zeppelin is a wondeful machine, but the time when it will be able to fly across the Atlantic commercially is very distant. I still cannot forget those says of anxiety. I will never fly in a Zeppelin again.”