One of the most perilous positions in the crew of a German Zeppelin during the First World War was that of the aerial lookout, whose job was to observe the ground for enemy position and bombing targets while dangling at the end of a long tether suspended from the belly of the aircraft.
The lookout sat in an observation car called the spy gondola or spy basket that was lowered from the zeppelin through the cloud, while the zeppelin itself stayed shrouded within the cloud layer and out of enemy view. The aerial lookout then became the eyes for the zeppelin’s pilot instructing the pilot on an appropriate course via a telephone. Although the job was alarming, it was said that many crew members enjoyed lookout duty because it was the only place where they were allowed to smoke.
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Zeppelin airship observation car at the Imperial War Museum, London.