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US Navy personnel with strong government support made the decision in early 1921 to construct a rigid airship. The code name of this airship would be ZR-1, later christened on October 10, 1923 as the USS Shenandoah. After years of observing the growing capacity of german airship production, navy personnel decided that the United States would benefit by constructing an airship to be used as a weapons system, surveillance, scouting, and the other military operations.Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin , the old airship pioneer of Germany had certainly left behind an impressive legacy of airship development that was well known throughout Europe. The Germans had constructed eight or more passenger type airships under the direction and guidance of Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin since 1900. Though failure was common, each succeeding airship built show significant improvement over previous ones. However the Count would not be around to see and observe the true giants of the sky as he passed away in 1917.

With construction moving forward under the direction of naval aeronautical engineers, airship Shenandoah was taking shape inside of massive Hangar #1 located at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, N.J. The gigantic hangar completed in 1920 and still standing proudly today housed the Shenandoah until its completion in 1923.

This massive airship,all 680 feet of her took to the skies September 4 , 1923 and successfully made a transatlantic flight later that year. She was equipped with 20 gas cells filled with helium for lifting purposes and powered by six Packard 6-cylinder engines. Almost two years to the day, September 3, 1925, the very first naval airship to ascend would literally come apart in 3 sections over the skies of Ava, Ohio. The massive airship had encountered very powerful convective updrafts proving that natural forces had succeeded in bringing down this behemoth. Not only did the navy lose an airship, fourteen of the 43 crewmen met their deaths that day. Thanks to the adroit and uncanny leadership of Captain Charles E. Rosendahl, he was able to save himself and other crewmen clinging to life in the bow section. All crewmen, including Captain Zachary Landsdowne, within the control car were killed. The stern section due to the presence of helium gas cells, landed with other crewmen, sparing their lives. The bow section with Captain Charles Rosendahl in command landed on a farm owned by Ernest Nichols. He took his young son Charles, age 3, with him that evening when a loud thunderous sound was heard as the Shenandoah fell from the sky. Ernest quickly got some ropes to tie the bow section to a tree because it was flapping uncontrollably due to the presence of helium gas cells. Neighbors also witnessed this tragedy and rushed to the crash site. Looters, hoping to be a part of history, quickly showed up to grab whatever they could from the monster airship.



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sources and credits: Cheryl Ganz, Andreas Horn, Dennis Kromm, Dieter Leder, Patrick Russell, Rick Zitarosa,

Dan Grossman Aviation Historian

secondary sources: William F. Althoff    A History of the Airship in the United States Navy

Articles: Airships, Dirigibles, Zeppelins, &Blimps       The First Zeppelins: LZ-1 through LZ-4

US Navy Rigid Airships


Under the direction of designer General Umberto Nobile, the Italian airship Norge was flown by Nobile from Rome to Vadso in northern Norway and next to King’s Bay on Svalbard. This occurred in early May, 1926. The airship had been purchased by Lincoln Ellsworth in hopes of flying to the North Pole. Both Ellsworth and Roald Amundsen were accomplished explorers.

A serious challenge confronted the explorers as this daring event had never been attempted previously. As is the case with explorers, the greater the challenge, the more they harden themselves for the seemingly impossible task that lies ahead. Many unknowns however can quickly factor in. Most notable are serious forces of nature, the weather: unthinkable coldness, severely powerful winds, constant atmospheric air pressure changes, etc. When the Norge left Svalbard on May 11, 1926 there were 16 men on board. No one aware of what lies ahead.

Under the direction of Ellsworth and Amundsen, both pilot Umberto Nobile along with an experienced navigator, Captain Ruser-Larsen set their sights on the North Pole. Problem #1 developed quickly. The radio antennae iced up ending all radio contact. However on May 12, 1926, American, Norwegian, and Italian flags were dropped on the North Pole.  Weeks later, tragedy knocked on the door of both Nobile and Amundsen. Both men met their fate in slightly different ways.


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A recent Immigrant to New Jersey starts a Nudist Colony in 1944 after launching a Successful Spring water company. But who is his clients and how do they find him after the broadcast of the Hindenburg disaster in 1938? Did the government during routine Aerial photography find out his secret in 1947, the year of Roswell. One thinks so. You never seen a Martian depicted with clothes on, have you…

I was walking around the foundations of the old hotel near Docspond. You now the ones the Piney’s burned down in the late sixties. Ah you know the one, I seen you in the woods hiding when it was on flames with your ax in hand and the helmet you fought to keep slipping over your eyes. But that is years ago and neither hear nor there. But You want to know a bigger secret I found out than the local fire company burning out the nudist in town. MIB.

Yes that is right, MIB. Yep. I found one of those mind eraser thingies. You might think I am a bit nuts, but I found one for sure. View full article »



We all know that airships are divided into three different categories – rigid airships, semi-rigid airships, and non-rigid airships. The Zeppelin belongs to the family of rigid airships, which were introduced in the beginning of 20th century by a German scientist named, “Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin.” This airship was based on the design of an old airship, which was introduced in 1894. The Zeppelin was the most successful airship of its era and due to its success, they were used for all rigid airships.

The basic competitive edge of a Zeppelin over other airships was that it was designed using the metal alloy Skelton, which enables it to lift heavy material easily without any hassle. Before the actual production of zeppelin, a prototype of this airship was developed with the length of 128 m (420ft) and with the horsepower of 10.6 KW. In the month of July 1900, the first flight of a Zeppelin was taken in order to check its efficiency. With the passage of time, improvements were made in this model to enhance its efficiency level. View full article »