Normally when people talk about the “good old days” of flying, they aren’t talking about the early 1930’s. But this was a big time in aviation and one of the most interesting aircraft of that time was the Dornier Do X seaplane.

It would be hard to mistake the Do X for anything else. It was a plane powered by 12 motors and it required a crew of 14, including an engineer who operated the engines more like a steam liner than an airliner. The aircraft could hold a total of 66 people on long flights and up to 100 on shorter. It offerred a smoking room, a wet bar, a dining salon and sleeping berths. The amenities might sound amazing, but flights were rough and took a long time.

On August 27, 1931, two Lufthansa (called Deutsche Luft Hansa at the time) pilots, landed on the Hudson River after travelling from Europe to Rio de Janeiro to New York. That trip required 16 stopovers and 22 days, much longer than one would experience today. One of the passengers was a woman American millionaire and aviation enthusiast, Clara Adams (who was also on the Hindenburg’s madain flight).

Overhaul work was completed after the long flight in the US and on May 24th 1932, the Do X returned to Berlin to a crowd of 200,000 cheering fans.

Only three of the aircraft were ever produced and due to a number of non-fatal accidents and world economic downturn, the Do X was never a successful airliner. It doesn’t stop the aircraft from going down into history as one of the most unusual airliners.

Some additional photos from

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Calling it a biplane is a bit of a stretch since the second “wing” was for structural strength.

I wonder if we will see a renaissance of sea planes. They could be used like cruise ships are today but with the advantage of getting you to secluded and exclusive spots very quickly. Perhaps one operating in conjunction with a cruise ship would work?

Roger, you are correct. One piece of info I got said bi-plane, but most of what I am seeing is just a single wing, so I updated it.


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