first usn lta deployment west since 1961 first usn lta deployment

first usn lta deployment west since 1961 first usn lta deployment
No. 86
SINCE 1961
See “On the Covers” on the next page about the big move!
Mike Kolasa supplied this image he took during a 1950s exercise with his ZP3Ks, helping a British researcher writing
a book on aviation in Bermuda. See “Pigeon Cote” inside.
(Below) Ross Wood climbed atop his ZPG-2W for this interesting view of NASL hangars 1-2-3 and some of 4.
Official Publication of the Naval Airship Association, Inc.
of the Naval Airship Association, Inc.
ISSUE # 84 Official Publication
WINTER 22009
Editorial# 84
President’s Message
President’s Message
Membership Comm.
Treasurer’s Strongbox
Cote Comm.
Pigeon Cote
Pigeon Cote
Shore Lines
Media Watch
Short Lines
Media Room
History Committee
On the Side
Front: Now old Hangar One, seen clearly in this photo by
his airship,
On the
of TNB
#84: will have a new leadership
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All material contained in this newsletter represents the views of
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and does
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All material contained in this newsletter represents the
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official position of the Naval Airship Association, Inc., nor 11
its officers or members.
“What!? You still haven’t renewed for ’10?”
Communications officer at South Weymouth in May ’44.
Walter Pilsbury,
to sendfor
your dues! (NARA
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Communications officer at South Weymouth in May ’44.
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Photo via
flight –Airship
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also the Navy’s last!
The Naval Airship Association
Herman G. Spahr, email: [email protected]
1032 N. 21st St., Lafayette, IN 47904-2217
Tel: 765-447-3676
Herman G. Spahr, email: [email protected]
21st St., Lafayette,
IN 47904-2217
Vice N.
/ Membership
Fred Morin, email: [email protected]
Box 136, Norwell, MA 02061
/ Membership Chair
Tel: 508-746-7679
Fred Morin, email: [email protected]
PO Box
136, Norwell, MA 02061
Peter F. Brouwer,Tel:
[email protected]
1950 S.W. Cycle St., Port St. Lucie, FL 34953-1778
Tel: 772-871-9379
Peter F. Brouwer, email: [email protected]
1950 S.W. Cycle NAMF
St., Port St.
Lucie, FL 34953-1778
Mort Eckhouse,
[email protected]
NAMF Liaison
email:[email protected]
[email protected]
Hajcak, email:
Joe Hajcak,email:
email:[email protected]
[email protected]
Michael Vinnarick,
Committee Chair
Mayer, email:
email: [email protected]
[email protected]
Stores Chair
email:[email protected]
[email protected]
Ford U. Ross,
66062 Cambridge Rd., Pinellas Park, FL 33782-2117
Small Stores
(0900 - 1900 hrs EST)
Ross, email: [email protected]
66062 Cambridge Rd., Pinellas Park, FL 33782-2117
Tel. 727-289-8467 (0900 - 1900 hrs EST)
R.G. Van Treuren, Box 700, Edgewater, FL 32132-0700, [email protected]
Within our 50-50 news-history mix, the subset of
accident discussion remains prominent, if not dominant.
Recent message traffic concerning BuNo 135448’s
accident demonstrates the difficulty with re-creation, even
by participants and even when recorded soon after the
event. Levelheaded discussions should displace “battle,”
but emotions come into play; Lundi Moore, for example,
quit the LTA Society over the specific time BuNo 144242’s
bag ruptured. Some accidents’ mysteries, like the Pakistani
airliner whose hard landing turned into a funeral pyre for
301 Muslim pilgrims in August of 1980, have never been
solved. Accuracy is our goal, but I feel equal resources
should be devoted to accident prevention in our pages.
Take the case of the lightning-struck ZP5K BuNo
13740 whose envelope burned in less than two minutes
encouraged by pouring down rain.
Neither would I edit a ‘World Is Flat’ society newsletter.
In the 50% news side, our members have come to grips
with the disappearing resources of today’s environment.
Ironically, energy scarcity is an opportunity for LTA,
beyond the “Z Prize” competition to build a zeroemissions airship.
In a recent article “...The Impact of Oil on Aviation
and Daily Life,” Walter Shawlee warns the recent high of
$147/barrel was seen as survivable and not even caused
by real shortage. Warning that viable airplane commerce
has no alternative to petroleum and passenger jet travel
stops at $8/gal., he’s optimistic automobiles can convert
to electric propulsion. In the air, he concludes, “While I
can picture helium dirigibles in the future with electric
steering motors powered by fuel cells or other electrical
sources, I have trouble with the basic science magically
making the leap to fuel cells or secondary batteries running
a Boeing 747, Beech Bonanza or Bell Jet Ranger.” Indeed.
By the mid-1880s electric-powered vehicles demonstrated short but repeatable navigation in our oceans of
air and water. By the late 1920s submarines had complete
control of their buoyant condition as long as they had fuel.
An airship circled the world using its fuel to help manage
its buoyant condition, and another was built fire-resistant.
Today we are quite capable of building an airship the
equivalent of a non-nuke oceangoing submarine: fire
resistant, and with complete control of its static condition
as long as it has fuel. And we need to start it now. Long
before either helium or petroleum wins the race to
become first to be unaffordable, we need airships that
can lift large antennas to high altitudes for cost-effective
radar footprint-durations. We need airships that can carry
sensitive gear that can find ultra quiet, cold, non-ferrous
submarines carrying their 100-knot plus torpedoes, not
to mention affordable countering of fleets of smuggler’s
plastic u-boats. We need cargo airships that can carry the
low-density, medium-value bulk cargo of everyday life.
If all the easily reachable oil really has been found, only
airships can deliver oil rig and supplies to untapped Arctic
fields well beyond roads.
I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t sure LTA can prosper in
the post-leaded gasoline (2017) and post-$100/cylinder
helium era. If & when presented, we will continue to
print arguments that suggest postponing the inevitable
is somehow beneficial. But, let us also add accident
prevention discussion to our pages. There are more ways to
lose an airship than fire, and the majority of air accidents
– even HTA – are survived. Ω
Bags were of course ignitable with much less current,
shown by the 4K replacement envelope alone (ser #
D-528) that burst into flames during its air inflation test.
It may be wild speculation, but reoccurrence avoidance
seems no more complex than engineering fabrics that
nature can’t ignite.
Likewise, Rick Zitarosa challenged me to “
me three helium-inflated airships that burned and were
lost with all aboard?” Sadly those would not be limited to
K-25, K-51, K-64 and K-94. Like the nonfatal fire losses
of K-42, -57, -58, -62, -102, -109, etc. the cause of many
non-combat aircraft accidents can be traced to a failure
that exposed air-contaminated petroleum to an ignition
source. Updating fuel systems to modern robust standards
goes without saying. Should we avoid talking about it? If
the airship’s future was limited to some combination of
flammable envelopes demanding affordable helium lifting
some petroleum fume-filled fuel cans, this journal would
be 100% history.
Few people are aware of all that happens “behind the
scenes” in an organization such as ours. As President, I
am privileged to know those who voluntarily contribute
much time and effort in support of the Naval Airship
Association. I want to share with you their names and
some of the activities in which they are deeply involved.
The NOON BALLOON: Our publication continues
to receive constant praise. The success is due to the hard
work of our Editor, Richard G. Van Treuren. Despite the
many times Richard has been called away for his NASA
duties, he has managed to assemble and produce our TNB
on time. Betty Brouwer, Administrative Assistant, has
volunteered to type many handwritten pieces submitted
by our many contributors, putting them into proper
format. None of their efforts would have been successful
if it were not for the cooperative effort of our publisher,
David R. Smith and his staff.
Reunion 2010: Peter Brouwer, assisted by our West
Coast Contingent (Herb Parsons, Don A. Kaiser, and
Neale Sausen) have put together a memorable program
which all of us will enjoy. You will receive individual
invitations and information in the near future.
Nominating Committee: Chairman Mort Eckhouse
reports that the Officer Nominating Committee is actively
seeking a slate of officers to be presented at our Reunion.
Members are: Bob Ashford, Bob Forand, Albert Robbins
and Daniel R. Toleno.
NAA Website: Our entire Membership will find their
names listed on our new website. Preliminary information
and pictures relating to our reunion are also posted.
Former WebMaster Michael J. Vinarick has promised to
transfer all of the historical information on file to B. I.
“Bo” Watwood for insertion on the new webpage. Much
of the preserved information relating to ASW Operations,
carrier landings by airships, and air-sea rescue operations
provided by Past President John Fahey did not appear on
the original website and will be of immense historical value.
“Bo” will be assisted in the transfer by Ron C. Moore (son
of former VP C. C. Moore) and John T. Moore of Texas.
My grateful thanks to all the above and the many
unnamed contributors who continue to make our TNB
an interesting professional publication.
- Herm Spahr, President
VP Fred Morin, assisted by several others, will assume
the tedious task of cataloging and indexing all of the
material for the convenience of Members and researchers
who are interested in lighter-than-air operations. This
is a time consuming and continuous project of vast
importance, long overdue. A series of “Fact Sheets” are
being prepared which will serve to correct many published
misconceptions about the history and success of airship
operations from about 1900 through the post-war period.
After review by the Executive Council these “Fact Sheets”
will also be posted on the website and made available to
the general public.
100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation: Our organization
has been invited to be a participant in this year-long
celebration during 2011. VP Fred Morin has been
designated as our Liaison Representative and is in frequent
with the Staff Planning Committee of VADM Thomas J.
Kilcline, USN. Several articles of historical significance
have been submitted for consideration. You will hear more
about this celebration during the coming months. I urge
all who can, to attend the many celebrations which will be
held throughout the US.
Newsletter of the NAA
Volunteer Staff
Contributing Editors: NAA Members
Masthead Artwork: Bo Watwood
Editor: Richard G. Van Treuren
Publisher: David R. Smith
As was reported in the previous Noon Balloon, the
Executive Council met in November 2009 and it was
decided that we needed to make some improvements in
our website and databases to attract more members in the
academic, aviation enthusiast and researcher areas. I am
pleased to report that Pete Brouwer and Bo Watwood
took on the job of redesigning the NAA website and that
it is now up and running. Over time we will be adding
significant content to the site, specifically historic articles,
an index of History Committee holdings, an index of The
Noon Balloon articles, technical articles and updates, and
photographs. In this day and age, most people look to an
organization’s website for information on the organization,
their benefits of membership and what they have to offer
to researchers, enthusiasts, and members. The new NAA
website will provide all this and will be a significant asset
to our organization. Our direct mail campaign to colleges
and universities, military history depts. and ROTC groups
now has a substantial new benefit to offer. We will restart
our direct mail campaign to those groups and others.
By this time, everyone who is planning to attend our
reunion that will be held on September 24, 25, and
26 in Sunnyvale, California, should have made their
Note our new and improved website ! We encourage all
our members that have internet access, with a valid e-mail
address, begin using our new, revised NAA web site: www. Please use and enjoy. Note… you can
also e-mail your fellow shipmates simply by clicking on
their e-mail address in the membership roster. Contact me
if you have any questions.
Francois Marc de Piolenc, Iligan City, Philippines
Owen Werth, Alpena, MI
Dane Werth, Alpena, MI
Paul Kieliszewski, Alpena, MI
John H. Cobb, Jr., Roswell, GA
Gerald W. Patrie, Fayetteville, GA
John A. Tkaczuk, Port St. Lucie, FL
William Althoff, White Horse Station, NJ (renew)
Andre Ledux, Titusville, FL
I recently reported on a student in a high school
science class who was researching and building a radiocontrolled blimp for his science project. I am very pleased
to report that he captured third prize in the local science
fair. He showed a good understanding of LTA principles,
did thorough research into the subject, and built a
scale model of the gondola with (3) operating, batterypowered engines. His only drawback was his inability to
demonstrate a flight for the judges. High winds prevented
an outdoor demonstration and the confines of the room
and the other exhibits at the science fair prevented an
indoor demo.
An interesting sidelight to this story is that I addressed a
letter on NAA letterhead to the principal of the school and
the student’s science teacher complimenting the student
and his project. Another science teacher saw the letter
and approached me. She told me her father had flown
blimps out of NAS So. Weymouth and was involved in
the crash of ZP2K-85 off the N. Carolina coast in August,
1957. He wasn’t aware of the Naval Airship Association,
but I’m happy to report that with Pete Brouwer’s able
assistance we now have a new member, John Tkaczuk.
Please continue to be on the lookout for new members,
you never know where they will be!
- Fred Morin, Chairman
Betsy Behny –
in memory of Herbert E. “Herb” Biedebach
Rosemary Belsito –
in memory of her father, Natale “Tony” Belsito
Walter Swistak
Mario Martine
Leonard B. Pouliot
Edward E. Miller
Stephen J. Ulrich
Robert Feuilloy
Dick Shively
John A. Fahey
Anthony L. Carrone “Larry”
Donald Maurer
John H. Cobb, Jr.
Gerald W. Patrie
Jack Freedman
Lou Prost
Fran Mayfield
Gloria Molander
Betty M. Gustafson
Barbara Dolan
Pat S. Seal
Dorothy A. Dannecker
- Peter F. Brouwer, Secretary/Treasurer
Pigeon Cote
Ed. received a request from author Tom Singfield of
the U.K. for information on USN LTA in Bermuda. (See
Mike Kolasa’s photo inside front cover.) We forwarded Bob
Ashford’s article from last issue and Tom then offered the
rough draft paragraphs for correction. Put politely, it needed
it. Herm Spahr responded first: “Thank you Tom, for your
interest in airships. I was one of two Command Duty
Officers at Airship Squadron THREE (ZP-3), Lakehurst,
N. J. during what is known as Operation Whole Gale,
from Oct 1, 1959-31Mar 1960. One airship and two flight
crews were transferred from Airborne Early Squadron
ONE (ZW-1) on temporary additional duty to bring
ZP-3 to war-time strength during the operations. LCDR
Claude Makin was one of the Senior Pilots transferred with
his crew. I think you may have co-mingled information
concerning the three incidents you mentioned. I launched
LCDR Maken in the ZPG-2 141560, in mid-February
1960 due to approaching severe weather in order to get
it safely over warmer water and on station. Despite the
fact we were in constant communication, at about 0200
the second day of flight, we received a SOS forwarded
from Hawaii. When I questioned the airship regarding the
message, I was advised they considered themselves low on
fuel. They were instructed to divert to Bermuda.
No one wrote in about having known either Ginger or
Greenwald in this photo. You…? Ω
and caused the nose wheel to collapse. The airship was
almost immediately masted without further incident. The
right side of the radome was slightly dented. The following
day the airship returned to NAS Lakehurst without repair
of the nose wheel.
For your information, I flew the final flight of a ZPG-2
to Bermuda with CAC 303. Our purpose was to inspect
and preserve the airship mast and other equipment for
long- term storage.
At that time there was no aircraft, civilian or military,
flying anywhere on the east coast. The entire surface task
force was steaming downwind for comfort. A request
was obtained from the Chief of Naval Operations for
an operational flight clearance from NAS Lakehurst to
Bermuda to land the airship. I was the Command Duty
Officer dispatched in a R4D with a mast crew and in
inflight crew to land the airship. The flight was made
under instrument conditions at low altitude until well
clear of the coast, where weather conditions improved.
We arrived a day prior to the airship. LT Ross Wood,
from ZW-1 and his in-flight refueling crew, fueled the
airship during the night, enabling it to fly until daylight
hours and more favorable wind conditions permitted
landing. The airship landed at about 0900 hours. There
was a slight cross wind and a normal approach and landing
was made. However, the inexperienced ground handling
crew from the Naval Operating Base attempted to halt
the forward movement of the airship, without waiting for
it to come to a complete stop. The strain on the ground
handling lines pulled the airship nose toward the ground
On our return flight we crossed the path of the HMS
Queen Of Bermuda. I noted their flag hoist signaling for
us to “Pass to Port”. As we did so, the passengers lined
the rail to take pictures as we passed at a low altitude. As
a military courtesy, we exchanged salutes with the Queen
lowering her flag to half staff.
A few weeks later I received a formal invitation from
the Commanding Officer inviting “LCDR Herman G.
Spahr and Crew 303 to a luncheon on board the Queen”
when it was docked at New York City. The sister ship,
HMS Monarch, was dry-docked alongside for repairs.
Her officers and crew joined us for a memorable occasion.
I am hopeful that the other addressees can provide you
more correct details about the other incidents you relate.
Bermuda did not have the facilities to repair a deflated
airship for further flight. Ω
Indeed they did (con’t next page):
George Allen also responded: “Reference (a) my LTA
log book. 3 DEC 57 Departed NEL for “SALMON”
a Loran fix about 200 miles east of Barnegat light, New
Jersey. This was our operational site for the squadron’s
part of the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Time
of flight 47.6 hours. Normally this would have been a
total of 33-36 hours. I was a LTJG, command pilot and
LTJG Winchester was co-pilot. We were flying ZPG2W BuNo 141335. A standard flight was 4-6 hours
from takeoff to station and 6-8 hours station back to
base depending on the head winds. From takeoff up to
about 5 miles off Barnegat it was standard. Suddenly we
were in a heavy wet snow storm. There must have been
about 2,000 pounds of wet snow on the “roof ”. The nose
went up to an altitude of 20 degrees and with full power
on the engines we were slowly sinking into the Atlantic
Ocean. We had picked up 2,000 pounds of salt water in
preparation for landing. My attempt to dump this ballast
did not seem to make any difference so I yelled to my copilot to maintain full power while I ran aft to physically
open the valve. Immediately the ships altitude changed
to 8-10 degrees and we stopped our descent. Amen. We
contacted the base and said we would go south to NAS
Weeksville. Going south while heading west we kept
backing out to sea. A weather map was sent to us via radio.
Within a couple of hours we coordinated a fly-over by a
Coast Guard “Albatross”. The Albatross reported 62 knots
of wind. The 2-W could indicate 60 knots at full power
so we went back out to sea despite our best efforts. The
decision was made to fly to Bermuda arriving ahead of the
storm. So at single engine we headed for Bermuda. We
arrived at dawn. Meanwhile, on the ground arrangements
were made for a LTA-qualified pilot to be heloed over to
Kindley AFB where he assembled a ground handling party.
Lt “Flip” Stromski had just finished a tour at Lakehurst.
We knew each other and I was confident we would be
able to land. We were unable to get the nose gear to lock
down so we made the approach anyway since the front
was coming rapidly. We were no sooner on the ground
in the hands of the crew when we were pulled out of the
ground crews’ hands and at 300 feet altitude. Too often it
has been our experience a sailor would hang on, we were
fortunate no one had. We began our descent again with
my request to Flip to pull the nose of the bag down on
the ground. It worked and we finally “were in the cup”.
The base CO’s vehicle was waiting to take me to his office
where he proceeded to let me know he wasn’t too happy
with the position of the airship. Fortunately at this point
my XO who had been circling above the field waiting for
me to clear the runway so he could land and in turn land
me, walked in. Eight days later after 19.2 hours of flight I
landed at Lakehurst. My debrief with the CO was short
and I effected my orders to go to Line School at Monterey,
CA. During the 8 days we pumped helium in the ship
to replace that which I had valved, removed the cracked
radome which broke when we pulled the nose down and
the nose landing gear folded. Needless to say it was a
flight which I have recounted time and again for these
past fifty plus years.” Ω
Al Grappone e-mailed Ed., “I have posted an album
of my WWII experience in LTA. You should be able to
download any you think can be published from: Ω
Ford sent this in. No, really, Small Stores Chairman Ford
U. Ross sent this image of one of the handful of K-ships that
found employment postwar carrying advertising. (Goodyear
themselves tried one, the K-28, but found it too expensive
to operate. Following retirement and storage, it is now being
restored to wartime trim at the New England Air Museum.
See back cover.)
Ford Ross also offered corrections to the Brit’s LTA-inBermuda story, then found this item had been sold on
E-bay. Since those Brits probably had no clear motion
pictures of Zeppelins in 1916, one can only wonder what
this footage is - models were somewhat crude in those
days, and the first complete animation Ed. is aware of was
American propaganda about the sinking of the Lusitania.
Why yes, Larry, we’d like to hear it, and thanks for
including how this accident could have been prevented. Ω
Ed. once made a motion that NAA investigate the airship
hulk lying in the swamp off Brunswick (see inside back cover)
to determine its pedigree and condition. No action was taken
then, since there seemed little hope of doing anything with the
hulk. Today nothing may be left since the 4K was evidently
more easily corroded than other types. Now, a member may
at least identify which 4K it was, as well as how the accident
might have been prevented: Edward G. Stephany writes: “I
was the pilot of ZSG-4, BuNo 131922 airship that crashed
unceremoniously in the tidal swamp to the east of the field
at NAS Glynco, at approximately 2300 on 10 December,
1957. At the time, I was an airship commander/flight
instructor carrying a minimum crew and three students.
Rich McComb shared many of his Dad’s images;
above is another. Ω
The Accident Board was convened sometime after
Christmas leave. I was introduced to the board members
and advised that my statement was sufficient. Not one
of the board could figure out what happened and what
caused it. Retired Captain Vern Smith was called and he
explained the cause. He basically testified that the day
had been warm, unseasonably; the helium less than pure,
the cold night air had caused the helium to “shrink” in
volume. This caused the ballonets to fill. The pressure
was decreasing; the bags were full and trim was difficult.
I tried to insure that the ballonets were full by holding
the forward one closed manually. Bad call ! It blew loudly.
Overall, hard to maintain trim. Captain Smith further
advised that the reason that the airship went vertical was
that the cold night air would not mix with the helium and
“rolled like a heavy ball” to the tail of the ship, causing it
to go vertical.
Larry Corrone mailed these photos and wrote, “ I called
you ‘while back about the K-59 ... I’m enclosing some
photos. I happened to be there - I was stationed at ZP-3 in
Hangar #5 next door. I think it was a Saturday morning,
the Reserves were preparing to fly.
Following is the statement of LTJG E.G. STEPHANY
concerning accident ZSG-4 BuNo 131922 10 December
Took off 1820 for normal instructional night
landing flight of which I was the instructor and AC. At
approximately 2030, I made an intermediate landing to
exchange students. Shortly thereafter, I noticed difficulty in
maintaining trim of the airship and difficulty maintaining
pressure. I subsequently had the rigger check the ballonet
air valves to see if they were opening at a pressure below
normal. They were. I also noted that the outside forward
air valve was opening at an indicated l.4 inch pressure.
After check for over pressure, I had the forward outside
Normally there would be a man at the rear doors to
crack them open to create a draft to prevent this. I was
also in the crash of the K-43. If I can give you some info,
let me know...”
valve tied off and I had the rigger stand by to close the
inside forward air valve manually. With the about action
taken, I was able to control trim and pressure safely and
continued with the flight with full confidence that I had
control of the airship. I called the tower and told them to
notify the duty officer that my ship would be down on
One of the men, (BACON) had a badly cut finger. We
got a first aid kit and dressed it. After counting noses and
saying a prayer of thanks, we all went forward for a smoke.
The crew acted admirably through the whole incident
and there was no sign of panic. I especially want to
commend ENS WHEELER for his level-headedness
and his fine job as co-pilot. His knowledge of emergency
procedure was outstanding, far better that those expected
of a student pilot.
At 2320 (approx.) I was holding in the approach
position prior to final landing just after having weighedoff the ship with a trim of 3 or 4 degrees up by the nose.
Then without warning there was a sharp noise which I
analyzed as the forward ballonet ripping and the ship
assumed an extreme nose up altitude which I approximate
to be between 60 and 80 degrees. As we had forty knots
of air speed, we climbed rapidly. I immediately put in full
down elevator; put both engines in full reverse in order to
slow down and stall to a lower altitude. I was in the copilot seat and ENS WHEELER was in the pilot’s seat. I
told Wheeler to valve aft and told the rigger to rip air to
helium. I then called “Mayday” and told of my difficulties.
We attained an altitude of approximately 1200 feet before
coming down. I controlled the rate of decent by using
forward and reverse thrust as needed. I was able to control
it fairly well by this means. The extreme nose up altitude
caused a loss of directional control. After getting down
to 200 feet, I attempted to hold there, but had difficulty.
Noting that we were drifting seaward and noting that I
was not improving my trim and expecting the car to tear
loose from the envelope, I elected to ditch and rip the ship.
I called my intentions over the radio and told the crew to
prepare to ditch, ordering them to ditching stations.
In my opinion, the only way this accident could have
been prevented would have been aborting the flight before
takeoff or at first sign of any air system difficulties.’’
I applied to be released from active duty, my intention to
attend law school at the University of Florida. I departed
31 January 1958. I never got a copy of the results from
the board, naval courtesy notwithstanding. The log book
reveals that I was kept busy until I left. As it turned out,
Captain Smith was the lead pilot for the Goodyear airship
division. He advised me that I had been completely
absolved for cause and loss of the ship. He took me and
my family up for a ride later in the year.
I put the engines in full reverse. The tail hit first and
the car came to the ground at which time I ordered the
rigger out to grab the rip cord and rip the ship. We started
to rise again due to the tail resting on the deck. At that
time, I knocked the window out that held the rip cord and
tossed the cord to the rigger on the ground. He attempted
to pull it but the airship drifted towards him. I motioned
him out of the way and commenced pulling it myself. I
secured the engines and ordered all electrical gear secured.
The ship ripped when we were approximately 25 feet up.
We came down with a resounding crash at which time we
all abandoned ship. Being separated, we attempted to find
the others by cutting a hole in the bag and looking for
them. They came around the side of the ship and all were
accounted for. I then ran in and secured the APU.
Fortunately, the Naval Reserve at NAS Jacksonville
couldn’t have cared less about my having a LTA log book.
I stayed a reserve NA, having a command of 3 squadrons,
S2F, SP2H and P3B. It has been fun reliving this. I thank
you for the opportunity.” Ω
...and thank you for the prevention discussion. Ed.
Arthur C. Clark, who passed away on 5 JAN 10, served
in LTA in WWII. His notice also mentions a postwar
career with Goodyear in blimps. Herman “Tex” Dukes’
passing on to the “Fiddler’s Green” (see “Black Blimp”)
followed travels with the Navy to many parts of the world,
from Iceland to the Key West. Tex was part of the crew that
set up the first tent city in Iceland in August, 1941. His
favorite tale was about the Navy inventing “pink” alcohol
for use as ballast in the blimps. Pink alcohol signified
alcohol that had additives that would make you very sick
if imbibed. It appears conventional alcohol disappeared
regularly for some unknown reason. Within two days of
distribution, the sailors of the US Navy figured out they
could pour the pink stuff through a loaf of bread and the
liquid coming out the bottom went down just fine! Ω
it is told!!” George also e-mailed, “In today’s mail there
was a letter from John Barth’s daughter. She writes that
Myra, John’s wife, died 15 DEC 09. They would have
celebrated their 69th anniversary New Years Eve. John
was Maintenance Officer for AT&D while the 3W was
in BIS and a regular attendee at NAA reunions up until
the last couple of years. She says he is in good shape for a
92-year-old. She included John’s new address. John Barth,
c/o Ms Beverly Dress, 2809 Terrwood Dr. E. Macungie,
PA 18062-8485. Ω
Member John Moore wrote Treasurer: “Was nice
speaking with you the other day. The reunion in the Bay
area next September sounds great. If possible, I would
appreciate a brief mention in both your newsletter and
internet site requesting NAA members to contact me with
the names and phone numbers of any living veterans that
were blimp pilots, flight crewmembers, ground personnel,
or administrative (especially female) personnel stationed
onboard any Naval Lighter-than-Air (LTA) Station
(preferably, but not limited to, Hitchcock, Texas) during
World War II. I am still awaiting contact from the Duke
family. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Ω
John is in the roster, and the need for Hitchcock information
is critical. Please help, Ed.
Herm Spar got a call from Walt Ashe: “He spoke
about the mooring mast he rigged with a high pressure
hose at the top and one at the bottom, which he used to
save one of the airships at Lakehurst. I was there.” “We
talked for over an hour about people we both knew and
served under, but who are now gone: Marion Eppes, Guy
Balleau, Fred Klein, Max Cawley, Louie Strum, Larry
Reagan, Pinky Hosmer, Doug Cordiner, Bob Shannon,
Harold Van Gorder, Bob Colopy and many others.” Herm
asked about George Allen: “He told me you were one of
the finest ZP3W pilots in the BIS system. He recalled the
day you signed for the ship for delivery to the Navy. He
said he had personally been ordered “never to sign for a
BIS ship for which he had overall responsibility.” For that
reason he always had to fly as a co-pilot and you were the
PAC… I asked if he was familiar with your experience
with the ZP3W in the snow storm” George replied, “Gosh,
I’d forgotten that trip. It was on that same flight they dove
from 7000 feet down to about 2000 and “bent” the ship.
I was up in the electronics space under the height finder
radar. I saw the fold and reported it to the pilot and in
my report to the BIS. This was the same ship that crashed
and killed 18. It also folded when Dick Widdecomb flew
over the field at Lakehurst. He went from about 500 to
1500 and it folded then also. Walter and I got along well.
He had plans for me to make a special flight which never
came about after the crash and the demise of the program.
Those were the days... George Allen remembered, “For the
record I was still in ZW-1 when I went to Bermuda, in a
2W, landed on Dec 5 and took off for NEL on 13 Dec,
landed same day. The story gets embellished each time
Richard Higy wrote in part, “…at the end of 1945 I
obtained a picture which I took to be a K-ship flying over
Cleveland stadium., though it was a flight test… to my
looking closer it had “US ARMY” plus two bottom fins.
I checked James Shock’s “US NAVY AIRSHIPS 19151962” and there was an article about the TC-13 of the
US Army. Question: why was the double bottom fin not
used later? I was in Lakehurst A & R and took care of fins
topside. I remember in the early 30s my father woke me
up to look out the bedroom window – one of the airships
was going over, it must have been German. We lived like 2
miles south of the Goodyear hangar. All the lights were on
and people looking out of the windows…” Ed. sent Rich
a copy of an earlier article covering the advanced features of
the TCs that were not put into Goodyear’s K-type, in 1937
thinking K-2 would just be another one-of-a-kind prototype
with no gear to find subs “other than the human eyeball.”
Rich and his daughter dropped by Edgewater and donated
two nicely framed photos, the TC-14 over Cleveland and the
Graf Zeppelin over the Golden Gate. Ω
Norm Mayer e-mailed, “George Spyrou was a good
friend. [See page 35] I first met him during contract
negotiations regarding Resorts International’s purchase
of an Airship Industries Skyship 600 airship. George
was the lawyer representing AI. After he formed Airship
Management, I met with him in Connecticut whenever I
travelled there. On one of our visits, he took us (me, my
wife, daughter, & grandson) to the Westchester airport
where we boarded one of his airships for a 4-hour aerial
tour of New York and vicinity. George well deserved
the AIAA award for his leadership in lighter-than-air
operations and development. His death is a great loss to
me.” Ω
head in and out of the water trying to unsuccessfully untie
the twisted straps. And so I treaded water until the actual
pick up praying that the rescue ships present would not feel
(with my head in and out of the water) was an emergency
and not pull me onto the rescue vessels standing by for
just such emergencies. And so ended another day in the
annuals of airship lore.” Ω
David “Dan” Chernow, class of 17, e-mailed: “It seems
like a thousand years ago (1944) while sitting around the
table at a staff meeting with Admiral Rosenthal to learn of
a big review of all the rescue programs in existence to take
place off shore the Jersey coast. In attendance would be
every Navy bureau representative.
The admiral was determined to show the airships
place in the theme of things. It was determined to have a
party lifted from the seas on to a life ring lowered from a
blimp hovering about 200 feet above. I need not tell you
the difficulty of getting a ship to hover at practically no
ground speed (even in ideal weather conditions) necessary
to do the job. Two of us present volunteered to be the
guinea pigs – I being one of them.
Bob Forand had sent the clipping above some time
ago and the Editor has given up trying to find the picture
we once had of K-99, bent worse than any banana,
settled between two hills on the property of a logging
company. Back when Ed. first heard about this incident
he wondered if this might be the one chance we had of
finding the remains of a WII-trim K-ship that, owing to
the mild California forest climate, might be restorable.
The late Simon Beattie dropped everything and took the
visiting Ed. up the road to the company’s timber preserve,
pointing to the remote location in the distance – miles
behind the locked gate. Many calls and letters later we
were no closer to gaining permission to gain access for an
inspection tour. Ed. happened to visit the SeeBee Museum
in California, and in their LTA file – a photo rich report
on the salvage of the K-99 car. Nothing there anymore
either! (See inside back cover for the richest stash in LTA.)
A practice run had a PT boat drop us off at sea, inflate
our life jackets (Mae West) and tread water until the
proper conditions were in place for the pick up. If you
recall the standard life jackets had lines hanging at the
bottom of the jacket which was attached to two cartridges
which when pulled would inflate the jacket.
Unfortunately the lines being fairly snug when inflated
nearly made a eunuch of me. Every move I made merely
tightened the pressure in the crotch area. I was determined
then that for the actual show there would be lots of room
for comfortable expansion on the jacket straps.
Bob also sent documentation showing what was
obviously official brouhaha concerning the wreck of
the K-61. The memos from BuPers and a senior officer
indicated Bob could not be considered for promotion
while the judge Advocate General looked into the crash as
“a matter of interest.”
On the day of the show the water dropped proceeded as
planned. However, upon the pulling of the elongated line
on the life jacket nothing happened. I proceeded to check
out the problem and saw to my chagrin that the long
extended lines had twisted around the cartridges locking
them firmly in place. I spent the next half hour with my
Bob added, “I wasn’t even on the K-61!” Ω
Herman Van Dyk wrote, “When my article “Dixmude:
The French Airship Disaster” went to press in TNB #82,
the line drawing of the airship was not yet complete,
lacking some information regarding the passenger cabin
the French had added. I had not been able to obtain
detailed information, in spite of having contacted almost
any Air & Space museum I knew, including the huge and
famous Le Musěde Air et Espace at Le Bourget, France.
Tresur. rec’d an e-mail: “I read about the Navy Airship
Association reunion on-line. Sunnyvale in September
should be a great place to be! I am a member of the
Universal Ship Cancellation Society (USCS), which is
an international organization of 1200+ men and women,
founded in 1932, who collect naval covers (postal pieces
cancelled aboard Navy & Coast Guard ships and Marine
Corps bases). We are committed to keeping alive the
histories of the fine ships of our Navy, Marine Corps, &
Coast Guard team, and the men & women who serve in
them. Collecting airship covers, as you may know, is one of
the most popular facets of naval cover collecting! Attached
are scans of three Macon covers and a commemorative
cover for the loss of Shenandoah, Akron, & Macon, and
I thought that perhaps some of your shipmates might
enjoy seeing them… To learn more about our society,
please visit our web site at: If anyone wants
more information about collecting naval covers and the
USCS, they may contact me directly. Another web site
that might be interesting to some of your shipmates is
the Naval Cover Museum (,
which is an on-line collection of naval covers, and Macon,
Shenandoah, Los Angeles, and Akron each have their own
page there. Best regards, Glenn Smith. [email protected] Ω
After publication of TNB #82 Mr. Andreas Horn,
Basel, Switzerland, located the missing information in the
Zeppelin Museum, and was so very kind to share it with
me. It allowed me to correct the drawing of Dixmude. In
order to provide accurate information to our readers, I
will mail a copy of the revised drawing to anyone who
sends me a s.a.s.e at Herman Van Dyk, 7 Birchwood Ave.
Peabody, MA 01960.
This author is very grateful to Andreas Horn and Rick
Zitarosa for the additional information, as well as the
extra photographs Robert Feuilloy provided. Thanks very
much!” Ω
Robert Von Zeppelin sent along some photos of new
items in his collection and wrote, “Keep up the good work
on the NOON BALLOON as I am sure that must take a
lot of work for the quality work you put out. With all the
other airship projects you are involved with it is a wonder
you find time to get any sleep.” Ed replies, “Huh? What?”
Robert Meyerowitz sent along copies of a 1964
Mechanix Illustrated whose cover story was the Aereon “3
Hull Dirigible.” The article mentions “John R. Fitzpatrick,
ex-Navy blimp pilot, designed the tri-hull and bossed its
construction.” Anyone remember Fitzpatrick? Ed. actually
saw this craft in its Pennsylvania hangar years before he
knew anything about airships, but Ed. has never read the
Aereon’s story in the book, “The Deltoid Pumpkinseed,”
so it’s not obvious if this rigid is covered in the book.
Just as Al Robbins is tackling the Slate family airship, so
should some other knowledgeable member observe and
report on the Aereon saga. We’d like to know it all – the
design philosophy of adjusting the center of buoyancy
dating back to Solomon Andrews trying to get President
Lincoln to listen, to the successful prototype flights, to
what might be done with the concept today, We’re not
getting any younger here ! Ω
relatively ineffective given the amount of extra weight
they represented, while the prop-wash from all eight
propellers turning up high revvs at the same level caused
vibration which was “bad enough to rattle the fillings out
of your teeth” (as Admiral Rosendahl would remember
40 years later) the vibration also being bad enough to
cause constant light bulb failures in the rear engine rooms
and keel area. In addition to some alarming “weight and
balance” figures that came to light after the ZRS-ships had
already entered service, the vibration issue was one of the
reasons they wanted to retrofit the Macon with six engines
of higher power and delete the location for the #3/#4
engine positions. I have never subscribed to the belief
that Akron failed structurally as did Macon, but both ships
did have their problems and many considered them to be
“overdesigned” and not as good as they could or should
have been given all the effort and expense that went into
Don Connover donated a huge batch of LTA photos
and memorabilia through Ed. which allowed them to be
scanned and gleaned before shipment to NNAM. From the
collection of his father, the late LCDR Wilmer Connover,
the Macon’s last helmsman, amid many photos was this
undated and uncaptioned K-ship and officers pose. In this
detail one can easily see attached on the K-car’s side is
the so-called “flying MAD head” which we are still trying
to find out more about. It was obviously an attempt at
getting the MAD sensor closer to the target but we don’t
know how they were controlled.
John H. Cobb, Jr. e-mailed, “I recently joined the
NAA and received my newsletter. Let me say that “The
Noon Balloon” is a first-rate publication, and deserves
a big Navy “Bravo Zulu”! The wealth of information in
every issue is amazing.
NAA members might like to know that some highquality photo prints of ZP-2 ships and hangars at Glynco
are available from Steele Studio, Beaufort, SC. Go to www. and click on Brunswick, GA. Also, there
is a very nice historic display of NAS Glynco in the main
terminal of the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport. It is not
far from the exit off I-95, on the north side of Brunswick.
... By the way, I have your “The Blimp Goes to War...
Again,” which I ordered from The Flight Deck store
of the museum. An excellent production: interesting,
informative, and full of rare footage you won’t see
anywhere else…
I spent my childhood summer vacations on St. Simons
Island, and loved to see the ZP-2 ships flying offshore.
I would have probably gone LTA, except that I did not
enlist until 1967, so I was a surface Navy ET. Most of my
twenty was at COMMSTAs Spain and Iceland (transmitter
sites), and my two shipboard tours were USS Hunley (AS31) and, yes, USS Shenandoah (not ZR-1, but AD-44!).
The last Shen is in mothballs now, only 13 years after we
commissioned her in 1983. I retired onboard in ‘86.
There is a plaque on the quarterdeck that says, “The
fifth ship of the line to bear the name.” They included the
Confederate raider in that line!” Ω
His Macon crew photo was so large one can scan the
corner to see most of the HTA unit. L to R, two of the
F9C2 Sparrowhawks, three of the N2Y-1s, the two Wacos,
and even the Martin torpedo bomber they’d considered
using to deliver fuel to the airship. I am guessing the large
spittoon-like creations adjoining the spreader gear are to
collect dumped ballast, though nothing in the literature
confirms that to my knowledge.
Rick Zitarosa commented, “I believe “spittoons” to
be rolling catch basins for when oil-change/maintenance
work was done on the main engines and the gear boxes
on the Allison transmissions. The tilting-props were a nice
concept but proved to be a maintenance headache and
siding this November, leaving behind the hangar’s massive
skeletal frame structure. Every elected official in the area
has opposed that plan. The sensible thing is to replace
the siding as the old siding is removed, say community
leaders from the city of Mountain View to the Moffett
Field Restoration Advisory Board. Bill Berry, president of
University Associates LLC, which wants to build a major
University of California campus and NASA Research Park
next to the hangar, was supportive of Orton’s proposal.
“The difficult thing is the bureaucracy” of working with
the government, he said. Berry was recently elected to
be the community co-chair of the Restoration Advisory
Board. His predecessor in that position, Bob Moss, was
more critical of Orton’s proposal, singling out its mention
of new “architecture” for Hangar One…. Ω
NASA ‘committed’ to re-skinning Hangar 1
by Daniel DeBolt, Mountain View Voice Staff
In a meeting on 11 March, NASA and Navy officials
said that, for the first time, they are jointly “committed” to
preserving historic Hangar One at Moffett Field, and that
various options for restoring the Hangar will probably be
released by the end of March. “We are currently working
to figure out the details of various options,” said NASA
Ames director Lew Braxton. “We all have a requirement to
get back to Congresswoman Eshoo in a couple of weeks.”
The hope of nearly everyone involved is to make sure a
new exterior can be installed at the same time the old
skin is removed later this year, using the same scaffolding.
While NASA’s tone was positive, there is still no funding
allocated -- more than $15 million is needed -- to put
a new skin on the 200-foot-tall structure, and the Navy
still plans to remove its siding as part of an environmental
cleanup in mid-December. “Everybody watch this,”
Braxton said. “NASA and the Navy are getting along.”
Braxton said he imagined there may be some sort of
public-private partnership to fund restoration and reuse,
and did not want to say how much re-skinning might cost
so as to not influence possible future bids on the project.
Developer would restore, lease out Hangar One
by Daniel DeBolt, Mountain View Voice Staff
NASA still plans to house airships in Hangar 1
by Daniel DeBolt, Mountain View Voice Staff
A major Emeryville-based real estate developer is
proposing to restore Moffett Field’s historic Hangar
One, which — if the government allows it — could
save the landmark building after its toxic siding is
removed in November. Eddie Orton, president of Orton
Development, says he has a “realistic” plan to restore the
NASA-owned hangar, which has sat vacant for years after
toxic dust from its asbestos-laden siding was found inside.
…his proposal, made in a letter to Congresswoman Anna
Eshoo, the Navy and NASA, mentions an initial design
allowing a “diversity” of uses inside the massive hangar,
which has a floor the size of 10 football fields. It says those
uses could include a museum, meeting rooms, offices,
research and development, light industrial, a public
venue and “mission-consistent government work….”
The Navy announced last month that Amec Earth and
Environmental had been contracted to remove the hangar’s
A NASA Ames official said on Tuesday that the agency
still hopes to use Moffett Field’s historic Hangar One to
house airships, standing by a proposal made a year ago.
“You may soon see airships flying around the area like we
did in the 1930s,” said Lew Braxton, Ames deputy center
director. Braxton clarified his agency’s position after
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo made a strong statement last
week that a plan must be in place to reuse Hangar One
if Congress is to approve funding to restore the massive
Braxton also noted that “there are companies that are
interested” in using Hangar One for the development
of lighter-than-air aircraft for the U.S. Department of
Defense, which Lockheed Martin is already doing. Ω
on 2 March, ship was “moored out” in “less-than-ideal”
weather reminiscent of the “old days” when Navy LTA
was required to maintain readiness for ASW/AEW patrol.
Coming out amidst the delays from several unusually
heavy New Jersey winter snowstorms, the MZ-3A made a
quick series of test flights on 2-3 March 2010.
(Cover Story)
In a personal triumph for myself and several other
people who absolutely positively refused to ever give up,
Navy MZ-3A airship BuNo #167811 was undocked
from Lakehurst Hangar #6 for the first time since May
31, 2007. After getting the Seabees to come in with a
front end loader and clear two feet of snow away from
the hangar doors Friday, February 19, the afternoon of
Monday, February 22, saw her come out of Hangar 6 for
the first time in 2-1/2 years.
Navy MZ-3A airship BuNo #167811 departed
Lakehurst Friday 4 March 2010 for an extended
deployment in “warmer weather.” The 6x8 American
flag that once covered the late John Iannaccone’s casket
fluttering proudly from the stern. It was a great privilege
to witness this event (and all the events that led up to
it.) There was some feeling of sadness standing by myself
looking at the empty hangar interior as I closed the big
doors, shut the lights off and secured the office. Many in
the crew had become close friends, a few are like family.
Due to other commitments, I myself will be staying
behind. I may fly out and join the ship and crew for a few
days at some period during their deployment, otherwise
will be “holding the fort” in Hangar 6 and making sure
nobody carts away our spare parts or office furniture.
(Lakehurst Hangar #6 remains the designated “home
base” for Navy airship operations at this point.) Integrated
Systems Solutions, Inc. (ISSI) of California, MD, is the
primary support contractor on the resuscitated Navy
LTA/LTAV program.
Nearly three years ago, when the ship was put “in the
box” for the “final time” one of the skeptical Naval officers
connected with the original project had invited me for a
glass of “celebratory champagne.” (“No thanks” I said. “
I’ll have my champagne when this ship comes back out of
the hangar!”) Thirty-one months, 22 days and 6 deflation
orders later, the Navy LTAV program is ready to take to
the air again! Victory belongs to those who believe and
persevere…to those who did believe, BRAVO ZULU...
and yes, I am enjoying my celebratory drink!
Now they are doing their “thing” as they know best,
operating the Navy’s only airship with confidence, purpose
and professionalism.....Good Luck and Clear Skies to all,
see you on the next chapter of this adventure!
I was tasked by NAVAIR with writing a 2-page article
on Naval Airships past/present/future for WINGS OF
GOLD magazine.
- Rick Zitarosa
Lakehurst Operations Manager
ISSI Airship Operations
Prior to getting underway, Commander Chris Janke
(LEFT) of (custodian) Squadron VXS-1 (“Warlocks”)
congratulates Navy Civilian Program Manager Herbert
“Bert” Race (Navy Advanced Development Projects
Office-Airships “ADPO”) on the fine job of getting the
airship “up and running” on five weeks’ notice in brutal
weather conditions. After leaving Lakehurst Hangar #6
airship — follows all NAVAIR requirements. He also
intends to become a certified airship pilot himself.
For now, though, the craft relies on Chief Pilot Peter
Buckley, a dual United Kingdom ⁄ United States citizen
with approximately 24,000 hours of flying time in airships,
and second pilot Russell Mills. ‘‘I’m very interested in
the science of it, and now I’m involved in the design and
engineering of airships,” Buckley said.
Buckley started flying them in 1975, trained by
Goodyear blimp pilots who received their training from
the last U.S. Navy airship pilots. This direct line of
succession brings airships back to the Navy for the first
time since 1962.
Photo by Christine Basham
VXS-1 Airship visits Pax
While in transit to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, the
VXS-1 MZ-3A relies on a mast truck to provide a broad,
stable mooring area at each stopping point. ‘‘It secures to
the truck, but weathervanes around,” explained Janke. ‘‘It
needs a big circle.”
By Christine Basham, Staff Writer,
The VXS-1 MZ-3A Airship — in other words, a blimp
— moored near Hangar 109 March 5 on its way from
Lakehurst, N.J., to Yuma, Ariz., where it will be stationed
for at least the next six months. While there, the airship
will be an integral part of ‘‘a multi-service venture to
impact the war fighter, we hope, very soon,” said VXS-1
Commanding Officer Cmdr. Chris Janke.
At 175.5 feet in length, with a volume of 170,000 cubic
feet, the MZ-3A is an imposing presence on the airfield.
Compared to the World War II-era warships of about 1
million cubic feet, however, it’s almost tiny.
VXS-1 is a part of the Naval Research Laboratory, and
the time at Yuma will be ‘‘the first level of development for
war fighter systems,” said Janke. ‘‘We try as many different
flight regimes as we can, so the client can test things at
airship height and speed.”
The unique requirements of an airship extend beyond
the hangar. In flight, the MZ-3A stays in constant radio
contact with its ground crew. On this trip, the blimp and
crew will follow two interstate highways, first I-95 South
and then I-10 West.
An airship’s ability to travel slowly and hover for long
periods is just as valuable to the war fighter as it is for
sporting event coverage. Aside from the height and speed
capabilities of an airship, their fabric construction means
that onboard radar equipment is not troubled by the
‘‘shadow zone” of a standard aircraft.
Whether or not to follow highways doesn’t really matter
to the airship, but it does to the ground crew. They need
as simple a path as possible, so they can keep track of
the blimp’s location at all times. The ground crew also
transports spare parts, an additional mast, and a mobile
fuel tank.
The blimp has spent the past two years at Lakehurst.
While it is owned by NAVAIR, Lakehurst has one of the
country’s few airship hangars, and NAVAIR had existing
tenants there. NAVAIR is responsible for ensuring that
maintenance, operations, and qualifications all are kept to
Navy standards.
‘‘The fuel has to be on a truck that’s running, so it can
move if the wind moves the ship,” Janke explained. Of
course, the MZ-3A never moves very fast. It travels about
55 mph, depending on wind conditions. Over the course
of an 8-10 hour flight, that translates to about 250 miles.
Doesn’t the saying go, ‘‘slow and steady wins the day”? Ω
Burt Race, a retired Navy pilot, works as a civilian
employee of NAVAIR to verify that Integrated Systems
Solutions — the California, Md., firm that operates the
Our LTA-forever stalwarts at Lakehurst might add
“pugnacious tenacity wins a close second.” Bravo Zulu to
those who never lost the faith. - Ed.
Technical Committee
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Command/ Army
Forces Strategic Command has received approval to
competitively enter into an Other Transaction Agreement
(OTA) for a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle
(LEMV), namely an airship. [see next page]
Another high altitude airship is Raven Industries’
Aerostar High Sentinel Stratospheric Airship (above). A
combination of weather and contract restraint prevented
a test flight last year. The next opportunity will be in the
summer. Raven also produced $2 million worth of low
altitude aerostats in late 2009.
The Sanswire Corp. demonstrated their STS-111
flexible segmented airship at their partner TAO’s property
in Germany in December 2009. A similar demonstration
in Florida is planned. [See pg. 22] The STS-111 is
designed to fulfill a range of missions at mid altitudes for
two days carrying various payloads. The 111 ft. segmented
design allows the envelope to flex with gusts. Gaseous fuel
weighing the same as air is used for propulsion. SanswireTAO plans to build a larger high altitude airship.
The University of Delaware has acquired a 60 ft.
remotely-controlled nonrigid airship. It can lift 100 lbs.,
fly up to 2000 ft. altitude, with a top speed of 25 knots.
It will carry various instruments including a laser scanner
and visible, ultraviolet and infrared cameras. The blimp
will gather geographic and environmental data useful to
students taking more than 50 courses at the University.
The airship was manufactured by Galaxy Blimps in
Dallas, TX.
Meanwhile, the Hale–D , Lockheed Martin’s High
Altitude Long Endurance Demonstrator, is grounded for
lack of funding. This airship was completed and inflated
in the Akron, Ohio, Air Dock. The 240-ft. Hale-D is
designed to carry 50 lbs. to a 60,000 ft. altitude for 15
days powered by solar arrays and batteries. The Army
Space and Missile Command is the contracting agency.
[Artist rendering, above. See back cover, TNB 84 for a spy
photo of the Hale-D prototype.]
The WDL company in Essen-Mulheim, Germany, has
resurrected its WDL IB nonrigid airship for advertising
and passenger flights. It is planned to operate in southern
European skies during the winter months.
The Navy airship MZ-3A has been flown from its
Lakehurst, NJ, base to a western location where it will be
involved in a variety of missions. [Cover]
Airship Ventures Inc. airship, the Zeppelin NT-07 was
used by the SETI Institute and NASA to study the salt
ponds in San Francisco Bay as they revert to wetlands.
Scientists can observe organisms and pond pigmentation
while flying slow and low.
Worldwide Aeros in California is developing a 200-ft.long sport airship ML866. It is listed as a rigid airship
capable of vertical take-off. It will be powered by either a
single piston engine or twins.
- Norman Mayer, Chairman
Afghanistan of “spy blimps” [sic]-- now tethered to the
ground but gathering intelligence such as full-motion
video used to identify insurgents -- has sparked interest
in these new airships. The ambitious and new five-year
program for a 250-foot-long “Long Endurance MultiIntelligence Vehicle” calls for 18 months of performance
testing “followed by additional tests and demonstrations
conducted in Afghanistan,” according to the notice. Under
special acquisition rules designed to get new companies
into the defense business, the winning contracting team
will develop the airship, integrate its payload and other
systems to keep them working, then test and support the
vehicle. If all things work, the contractor is to support
operation of the airship and train military personnel to
run it during the five-year contract period.
Afghan ISR Airship a Step Closer
by Graham Warwick @ AVIATION WEEK
The request for proposals for the Long Endurance
Multi-Intelligence (LEMV) airship demonstrator is out,
calling for three weeks’ endurance - unmanned - carrying
a 2,500 lb. payload at 20,000 ft. But plans to award
the streamlined “other transactions authority” (OTA)
contract to an ISR consortium formed for the program
have changed.
Last year, the idea was to have a consortium of
companies build a similar system based on a hybrid
airship that Lockheed Martin flew in 2006. Lockheed’s
“Skunk Works” was to be central. Then, in July 2009, the
Pentagon changed its mind and decided to reprogram
$5 million to support a different initial acquisition and
planning approach for the vehicle, which will be run by
the Army Space and Missile Defense Command out of
Huntsville, Ala. It will have cooperation from the Air
Force and Navy. Now, Lockheed Martin is just one of
51 bidders. Under this plan, one group will build the
airship and another provide the payload of sensors and
ancillary systems. Last week’s notice is for construction
of the airship, but that also includes integration of the
payload devices, plus testing to make sure that everything
works. An additional $90 million for the program has
received congressional support in the fiscal 2010 budget.
Potential bidders must apply for the documents detailing
the requirements….means potential bidders can show
the documents to subcontractors but not disclose them
Instead, US Army Space and Missile Defense
Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/
ARSTRAT) is holding a competition and plans to award
the OTA contract to the winning bid for the airship.
Lockheed Martin plans to bid. Northrop Grumman
also plans to bid, and is expected to team with one of
the interested airship builders, which include the UK’s
Hybrid Air Vehicles, Aeros and others.
The OTA is for a five-year technology demonstration,
with performance tests to begin in 18 months of contract
award, expected in June, and testing and demonstration
to be conducted in Afghanistan over the remaining term
of the agreement. In theater, the LEMV will provide
persistence surveillance with a variety of electro-optical,
radar and sigint sensors, as well as communications relay.
However, in May 2009, the Army posted a draft
statement of objectives for the vehicle, and that document
spells out the thinking at that time. Although the sensor
payloads would be selected by the military, the document
said they could include optical or radar surveillance,
other intelligence sensors, laser communication and other
broadband data relay systems. The earlier document
also calls for control of the ship to be housed in a fixed,
land-based command center, but the airship itself should
be able to operate from “an austere location,” such as a
forward operating base. It will be able to be guided back
to its home base. A “rapid deflation device” is required to
terminate the flight if control is lost and to prevent the
sensitive payload from falling into the wrong hands. Ω
Military Seeks an Intelligence-Gathering Airship
By Walter Pincus @ Washington Post
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
and the Army Forces Strategic Command are continuing
their multi-year search for a futuristic, self-powered,
intelligence-gathering airship... Its engines would be
able to keep a steady speed of 20 knots, but if needed
possess an 80-knot “dash speed.” Though it is expected
to be unmanned and operated from the ground, it
may be operated with a crew. The success in Iraq and
Short Lines
Tough Coatings for Aircraft:
By Katherine Bourzac, Technology Review
Reduced Prototyping Costs Seen:
“Flight International” (1/11, Coppinger) reported a
new type of foam, developed by Fopat Production,
will save the aerospace industry “millions of dollars” by
“replacing wax in lost-wax of aerospace components.”
According to the USAF Research Laboratory, “traditional
casting processes and designs are severely limited due to
the properties of wax,” but the new foam will eliminate
current “wax-pattern making processes and wax cycles”
with a “temperature stable, energy-efficient” model that
also provides a “smooth surface finish.” Ω
For decades, materials scientists have looked to naturally
existing composites as inspiration for tough, lightweight
materials that could lighten vehicles. The material that
lines abalone shells, called nacre, has been of particular
interest: it’s lightweight and strong, yet shatter-resistant.
But mimicking the microscale structures responsible
for its properties has been difficult, and hasn’t resulted
in materials that can be manufactured on a large scale.
Now researchers in Helsinki, Finland, have developed a
simple method for making large-area, nacre-like papers
and coatings that could be painted on building walls and
airplane skins for lightweight reinforcement. Last year
Ritchie’s group made a nacre-like material that is the
toughest ceramic ever made. In the form of a coating, such
a strong, tough material could reinforce walls and airplane
skins without adding significant weight. “The excitement
with nacre is that its properties are impressive when you
consider what it’s made out of: calcium carbonate and
a protein,” says Robert Ritchie, chair of the materials
science and engineering department at the University of
California, Berkeley, who is not involved with the coatings
research. Nacre’s combination of interconnected plates
of a very hard but shatter-prone material with an infill
of a very soft but ductile material results in a composite
whose properties are better than the sum of its parts. By
starting with better materials, such as industrial ceramics
and polymers or metal, it should be possible to make a
synthetic composite whose properties are even better than
those of nacre. Researchers at the Helsinki University of
Science and Technology describe a process for combining
strong, disc-shaped clay platelets with the soft polymer
polyvinyl alcohol. When mixed together in water, the
polymer coats the discs to create a slurry that can be made
into paper or painted over a surface such as a wall. The
resulting paper or coating is made up of discs of the socalled nanoclay stacked in rows like plates in a cupboard
with the polymer surrounding them, a structure very
similar to that found in nacre.
Self-Healing Conductors Seen Possible:
Polymer nanocomposites
based on liquid-filled
suspensions for carbon
nanotubes encapsulated in
poly (urea-formaldehyde)
shell. Triggered release
of the contents is
hypothesized to restore electrical conductivity in damaged
conductors. To date self-healing materials systems have
largely focused on restoring mechanical properties of
structural composites and barrier properties of protective
coatings. This self-healing concept based on release of
liquid content from microcapsules is to restore electrical
conductivity in damaged electronics. For example, in
order to overcome the cycle life and the safety issues that
plague lithium-ion battery technology, new approaches
are needed that can stabilize the electrode-electrolyte
interface and restore electrodes degraded by micro-cracks
formed from charge-discharge recycling. New types of
polymer nanocomposite in which precursor materials
such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are suspended in
organic solvents encapsulated within polymer-based
microcapsules. Shells that erode under conditions of
high electrical potential, temperature spikes, mechanical
damage or other appropriate stimuli could release these
suspensions and deliver conductive components where
they are needed, thus restoring current in damaged
electrical conductors (illustration). The migration of CNTs
in an organic solvent driven by an external electrical field
has been previously reported, suggesting that triggered
release of CNT from microcapsules suspensions – even
at small CNT weight fraction – could indeed provide
an autonomous mechanism of self-repair of electronic
functionality. Ω
The Helsinki coatings are very strong and lightweight;
their material properties are similar to those of fiberglass,
says Andreas Walther, one of the Helsinki researchers. The
first application for the material may be as a reinforcing
coating for walls. Experiments with flamethrowers showed
that the coatings can act as a heat and fire shield. Ω
Welcome, Mr. John C.F. Tillson, Deputy Director, Strategy,
Policy and Assessments, US Euro. Cmd. “USTRANSCOM
- Meeting a Global Challenge,” General Duncan J.
McNabb, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command
Delivery (POND) Experimentation Campaign,” LT
COL Brian “Gazer” Mead, USAF, EUCOM, J8-C,
“Joint Task Force Haiti,” LTG Ken Keen, Deputy
Vohr, Director for Logistics/J4, SOUTHCOM
“Current Capabilities for Unmanned Airships for Battlefield
ISR & Communications Shortfalls,” Mr. Bruce Metzger,
Director, Technology Transition Office, AMCOM G-3
Op. Integration Directorate
“Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV),”
Mr. Ed Loxterkamp, Rapid Acquisition Lead, DoD ISR
Task Force, AT&L, OSD
“Airships: Everything You Thought You Knew,” plus
“Lifting Gases,” Mr. Pete Buckley, Airship pilot, Integrated
Systems Solutions, Inc.
“History of Hybrid Aircraft 2000 to Present,” Mr. Steve
Huett, Director, Advanced Development Program Office
for Airship Concepts, NAVAIR
“OSD Heavy Lift Perspective,” COL Dale Holland, USAF,
Emerging Capabilities Portfolio director, Office of the
Director, Defense Res. & Eng. “Heavy Lift Applications,”
Mr. Bill Crowder, Director for Advanced Technologies,
Thursday, April 1, 2010: Industry R&D Panel - Mr. Chris
Felker, Program Manager, Boeing Phantom Works, Dr.
Bob Boyd, Program Manager, Lockheed Martin, Mr. Igor
Pasternak, President & CEO, Aeros Corporation, Mr.
Mike Durham, Chief Engineer, Hybrid Air Vehicles, Ltd
Nontraditional Requirements Panel - USAID/State Dept,
Mr. Jacques Collignon, Senior Regional Logistics Officer,
UN World Food Programme, USCG “The Art of the
Possible,” LTGEN George Fisher, Jr. (Ret), Director of
DoD Programs, Global Security Directorate, Oak Ridge
“OMNI Warfare Game Changer: Laser Beam Weapons +
Static Lift,” Mr. Chuck Myers, President, Aerocounsel Inc.
“NASA Ames Airship Research,” Dr. Alan Weston,
Director of Programs, NASA Ames
“Collaborative Engineering and Research Capabilities to
meet DoD Hybrid-Aircraft Heavy Lift Requirements,”
Dr. John Horack, Ph.D, Vice President for Research, U of
Alabama, Huntsville
“Future Deployment and Distribution Assessment,” Mr.
Curt Zargan, Study Director, USTRANSCOM JDPAC
Futures/Transformation (invited) Ω
AIAA LTA Tech Comm. Tele-conference 16 FEB 2010
at AIAA headquarters, Reston, VA, minutes:
The meeting/teleconference concluded that the
2011 AIAA LTA conference will be combined with the
important Centennial of Naval Aviation Conference Sept.
21st and 22nd, 2011 in Hampton Roads, Virginia. For
easier planning the following dates have been proposed
for quarterly meetings of the LTA TC in 2010: May 26th
(Wed.), Sept. 29th (Wed.) and Nov. 17th (Wed.) for
noon time luncheon meetings. AIAA LTA TC members
were invited by Balloon Systems chairperson, Deborah
Fairbrother from NASA and former Chair Mike Smith
from Aerostar to join their group at this important
and historic conference opportunity. A vote indicated
widespread acceptance among the group. Also discussed
was the National Helium Reserves article Michael Conners
of BAH had circulated. While airship and aerostat
usage plays a very minor role in national consumption
of helium, it was thought that a position paper, vetted
through AIAA would serve the LTA industry interests.
This will be initiated by Curt Westergard and circulated
for committee input.
Old business included ideas for purchasing translation
of the German language text book on LTA tech by Juergen
Bock. Dr. Pant from Bombay indicated interest in possibly
combining this book with aerostat related course guides
he has already produced.
Mary Kukla asked the LTA TC to give their Pax River
Conference consideration. [next col.] Subject: Hybrid
Airships for Heavy Lift Conference March 31-April 1,
2010. Mary e-mailed, “We have been informally working
on an airship conference with our Navy colleagues, until
airships were moved to the US Army. We were pleased
to find an Army department (AMRDEC) interested in
continuing the planning of this conference, which will be
held at the end of this month, so we have both EUCOM
and AMRDEC co-sponsoring this conference.”
- Curt Westergard, Chair
Hybrid Airships for Heavy Lift Conference sponsored by
Aviation Missile Research Development and Engineering
Center, US European Command and The Patuxent
Tentative schedule: Wednesday, March 31, 2010.
Welcome, Dr. Robin Buckelew, Acting Executive
Director, Aviation and Missile Research, Development
and Engineering Center, RDECOM
Clean, Quiet Eye In The Sky
requires expensive systems to protect sensitive equipment
from damage.
Airships provide an almost vibration-free, stable
platform for sophisticated sensors, gyro-stabilized
cameras, radio and/or video relays and downlinks to
surface operations. The stability of the airship platform
lowers the cost of sensor packages and increases the scope
of tasks that it can perform.
Before being stampeded into accepting the only solution
that the police put forward, the City of Winnipeg and the
Province of Manitoba should undertake an investigation
of greener solutions.
Just as military needs have pushed helicopter technology
forward, airships have been gathering increasing attention
and investment. Airships are a common safety feature at
the Olympic Games and major sporting events. Locations
like Moscow, Trinidad, Tobago and Thailand have manned
airships providing police and military security.
At least six different airship companies stand ready to
provide piloted vehicles for security use: SAIC/Zeppelin,
Guardian Flight Systems, Airship Management Services,
American Blimp Company, RosAeroSystems and
Worldwide Aeros.
Usable payloads range from 1,000 to 2,000 kilograms
and they can fly as high as 5,000 metres. All the newer
airships are engineered to operate as Unmanned Aerial
Vehicles (UAV) or optionally as piloted airships. Usually
a piloted airship has to land after six hours to exchange
crews, but in UAV mode they can loiter or traverse areas
of interest for more than 24 hours.
The Moscow police have proven that airship technology
can operate in our winter conditions. Let the people who
have the oilsands have their polluting police helicopters.
Manitoba has long advocated the move to greener
technology. Using airships to enhance the effectiveness of
our police force would be evidence of such a policy. Ω
By Dr. Barry Prentice
The Winnipeg Police Service has determined that it
needs better search and surveillance capability. Police
argue that an “eye in the sky” can improve the productivity
of officers in cruisers, assist in gathering evidence for trial
and provide overall better safety. This viewpoint has a lot
of merit. In following the lead of the big Alberta cities, the
Winnipeg Police Service has lobbied for the acquisition of
a helicopter.
Physics require a helicopter to burn a lot of fuel
beating the air to carry its own weight, passengers and
fuel. As a result, helicopters sit at the pinnacle of the
carbon-emission “food chain.” If the police want to be
progressive, economically efficient and in tune with the
need for greener technology, they should take a hard look
at the new generation of security airships.
Could an airship do the same job as a helicopter? Clearly,
an airship is not going to pick up stranded skiers from a
mountainside. But if the task is to search the riverbanks
or the Assiniboine Forest, an airship would operate just
as well.
Helicopters can achieve speeds of 225 km/h, whereas
an airship’s sprint speed would be between 100 km/h and
140 km/h. An airship, however, would probably arrive just
as fast because it is more likely to be airborne. Moreover,
the police concept is to train their cameras on any 911 call
site and direct police cruisers to the location. No vehicle
could outrun the camera lens, whether it is carried by an
airship or helicopter.
A helicopter is an easy, definable asset for the police to
request, but it is old technology with very high operating
costs, limited capability and negative environmental
Criminals can adjust to the helicopter’s operating hours
and can hear them coming. With an airship as a silent and
constant threat to the bad guys, their tactical options are
The environmental and economic differences between
airships and helicopters are like green and black. Even
a small helicopter is going to burn through a 45-gallon
barrel of aviation fuel every hour it is in the air. An airship
can turn off its engines and drift whenever it chooses.
Helicopters require constant daily maintenance;
airships require only one serious inspection every 1,000
hours. For the “eye in the sky” mission, an airship can do
more for security and police interdiction with much less
cost and environmental impact than a helicopter.
Helicopters have been described as “a million pieces
trying to shake themselves apart.” Excessive vibration
NAA member Dr. Barry Prentice is a professor of supply
chain management at the University of Manitoba. He recently
appeared on Canadian radio and television advocating
airships as an alternative to expensive ice roads. Below is the
prototype eye-in-the-sky from Sanswire, see next page.
Made mainly of rip-stop nylon, the multiple-cell airship,
still in the test phase, would come in a crate that can be
unpacked by two soldiers and deployed in a matter of
hours. The forward bladder is filled with helium, which
gives the airship its buoyancy. The rest of the bladders are
filled with a gaseous, combustible fuel that gets compressed
before being fed into a one-cylinder, reciprocating engine
mounted below the front section, which pulls the airship
along at almost 40 miles an hour. The company’s current
model, the STS-111, which is 111 feet long and 11 feet
in diameter, can stay aloft for up to three days at altitudes
between 10,000 feet and 30,000 feet. A larger version on
the drawing board will go to 60,000 feet, where it will
loiter for up to a month, with an expected top speed
around 85 miles an hour. “At that altitude,” says Erdberg,
“the airship has a line-of-sight view over an area the size
of Texas.” Sanswire-TAO claims they’re ready to fill a
need now for more persistent UAV loitering where it’s
needed: mainly in the military, but also for homeland
security, border patrol, environmental study, commercial
telecommunications, and maritime needs. “We said,
‘Duration, duration, duration,’ measured in weeks. That’s
what our soldiers need now,” says Erdberg. Sanswire-TAO
conducted their latest demonstration of their airship on
December 17 and 18 [09] in Stuttgart. “We’ve built about
30 prototypes and have flown them thousands of times,”
he says.
Sky Snake: Flexible blimps are bending the rules on
UAV design, by Michael Klesius
Excerpted from
Leave it to the Germans to think we can do a
better blimp. TAO (Trans-Atmospheric Operations)
Technologies GmbH, of Stuttgart, Germany, partnered a
few years ago with the University of Stuttgart, and more
recently with Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based Sanswire
Corporation (from the French “sans” for “without” paired
with the English “wires”) to develop and market a new
kind of airship, the Stratellite—a smaller, more flexible,
unmanned, autonomous blimp that may rewrite the
books on the value of lighter-than-air vehicles.
The biggest plus for blimps is their time in the air, which
can last days to weeks depending on whether they have
people on board. Their biggest drawback is that when the
wind blows hard from the side, they don’t stay on course
very well. And several thousand feet up, blimps encounter
a lot of wind. For a blimp driver trying to angle for a good
camera shot of a football stadium, it’s not a matter of life
and death. For soldiers on the ground in Kandahar trying
to maintain, say, a communications link to their supply
base, or a video feed of insurgents across the valley, the
stakes are higher.
The Stratellite, the company’s high-altitude vehicle,
would find what Erdberg calls a “sweet spot” around
60,000 feet where it would experience the least amount
of average wind. “Below and above that layer it’s very
windy,” he says. “The idea,” he continues, “is to mix a
balloon with an airship. Without fuel, it just becomes a
balloon.” Erdberg says that solar cell technology isn’t as far
along as it needs to be. One of many problems for solar
cells operating at very high altitudes is overheating from
the sun’s powerful radiation. “We do believe that solar
technology is the future,” says Erdberg. He claims that
the company is doing research in that area. “But our gas
technology is ready today.” In the second quarter of 2010,
the company plans a public unveiling of their airships for
two days at the Orlando Sanford International Airport.
Sanswire-TAO has done away with the rigid blimp
design in favor of a flexible one, with segments linked
like sausages inside a double-sleeve design. As it undulates
in the sky in a crosswind, it bleeds off the energy of the
gusts, and stays on course or in place more efficiently. “We
focus strictly on being an eye in the sky—a very low-cost
eye in the sky,” says Daniel Erdberg, Sanswire-TAO vice
president of operations. “It’s not a complicated machine
like a typical aircraft. Our [flight] duration exceeds
anything on the market just due to design, to physics.”
“This is outside the box,” Erdberg says. “You’re taught
something in school every day, but then this is something
very different.” Ω
Part One by David C. Hazen
The Flying Wind Tunnel was the result of the
conjunction of a number of disparate factors and events.
The first was the increasing problem that, not only my
laboratory at Princeton’s Forrestal Research Center, but all
wind tunnel labs working in the emerging field of V/STOL
aerodynamics, were having with flow distortions produced
when, under test, the strong downwash associated with
models of such devices interacted with the restricting test
section walls. The second was my appointment as the
Aeronautical Engineering Departmental Undergraduate
Advisor, and the third was the fact that the Naval Air Test
Facility at Lakehurst had sent a representative to a Career
Day event sponsored by our Office of Student Placement
in hopes of attracting some graduating seniors, only to be
disappointed when no one showed up for an interview.
The officers involved with the Test Facility (obviously
HTA types) were convinced this was because Lakehurst
Naval Air Station was so associated in peoples’ minds with
airships that young engineers couldn’t conceive of the
exciting cutting edge work on catapults and arresting gear
being conducted there. To help change that image, they
invited the head of Student Placement to visit the Facility,
and because my department was the one most likely to
have interested students, as the Undergraduate Advisor
the invitation was extended through him to me.
Prof. David C. Hazen and his project officer, Lt. Cmdr. Wayne
Harrison, keep eyes on airspeed indicator during test flight.
been arranged for me to join “a test flight” going out for
just an afternoon.
On the appointed day, June 22, 1960, as directed, I
presented myself at the headquarters of the Airship Test
and Development Division. The Commanding Officer,
Cdr. Walt Ashe, being absent, I was taken in hand by
Lcdr. Frank Carter, the Aeronautical Engineering Officer,
who got me outfitted in a flight suit and walked me out
to the closest circle where a blimp awaited. Up close
and personal it seemed huge, but I was told that it was
a ZS2G-1, the smallest ship on the base, referred to as a
“sports model” by the pilot, Lcdr. Wayne Harrison.
Our visit, my first to Lakehurst, took place as planned
on May 26, 1960. I was delighted to find that the
commanding officer of the Air Test Facility was Capt. Bill
Fortune who had sponsored some of my research when
he had headed the Air Branch of the Office of Naval
Research. The work on advanced catapult concepts was
indeed intriguing, but try as I would to concentrate on it,
my attention kept wandering towards the several squadron
blimps moored out on their circles. In the course of my
travels and work I had flown in a good number of civilian
and military aircraft, but never in LTA, a fact I mentioned
to Capt. Fortune, adding that I’d love to expand my
experience by taking a blimp ride. The good Captain
assured me that he could easily arrange for me to go along
on a flight. “Of course,” he added with a grin, “a typical
mission takes several days.” I gulped, and explained that
wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
I was established in the copilot’s seat and watched
the preparations for take off in fascination, realizing for
the first time just how many people other than the pilot
were involved in the evolution. After warning me, Wayne
demonstrated his “Scare the Bejeezus Out of HTA Pilots”
maneuver by chopping the throttles just after lift off. Even
though I was told what to expect, I was impressed by the
way the airship serenely continued on its way. After we
headed for the coast, Frank Carter gave me a tour of the
car. Having grown up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland
in sailboats, I was enchanted by everything about the
machine, from its low noise and vibration levels, gentle
motion and obvious use of fabric and rope, to the fact that
it included “riggers” as members of the crew, all of whom,
He laughed and said he’d see what he could do. He did
very well. About two weeks later I got word that it had
like proper sailors, seemed to be wearing sheath knives
and binoculars. When asked, Frank explained that besides
their utility both as general purpose tools and means of
cutting through the envelope fabric in case of emergency,
the knives were to cut curious Associate Professors out of
the way in case of a ditching. The use of the binoculars
became apparent as we flew over Asbury Park’s several
rooftop sunbathing establishments.
point to point under the car to survey the field. What I
hadn’t realized at the time was that the Navy’s entire LTA
program was threatened with termination, and anything,
regardless of how far out, that might be a reason for its
continuance was eagerly explored.
The tests were conducted only five days after my
initial flight, and showed the airship to be capable of
satisfactorily maintaining speed and pitch angle settings
through the range from 10 kts to maximum speed, while
the flow field below the car proved to be more uniform in
direction and velocity than that we could obtain in our
tunnels. Before long Bill Barnes had a deployable mast
constructed and we mounted a model—an 18” span delta
wing—hardly an appropriate candidate for the type of low
speed test facility we were trying to develop, but it had the
virtue of being available along with an appropriately sized
three component strain gage balance. The results almost
exactly replicated those from the tunnel. We were ready
to try a powered model of the type that had proven so
troublesome in the closed wind tunnel.
Besides thoroughly enjoying myself on the ride, while
munching on a very substantial sandwich that magically
appeared shortly after take off, I got musing about the
airflow around the envelope and car, wondering how
far the distortions so created might extend out into
the flow field. I was familiar with Dr. August Raspet’s
use of gliders at Mississippi State College as a source of
low turbulence flow in which to study boundary layers,
and vaguely wondered if the airship could be used in a
somewhat similar fashion to relieve the restrictions being
imposed on our work at Forrestal by the limited size of
our tunnels. I mentioned the idea to Frank Carter, who
became quite interested and got Wayne to run some tests
to see how closely the airspeed and pitch angles could be
maintained at a constant value over a period of time. The
results seemed promising, but not knowing the accuracy
of the instrumentation, far from conclusive.
At the end of the flight (during which, if any “tests”
other than our airspeed ones had been conducted, I was
unaware of them), Frank agreed to talk with his boss,
Walt Ashe, to see if there was some way we could piggy
back some flow field studies during future flights on a “no
interference” basis.
Obviously these tests had not been conducted on a
non-interference basis, and both Walt Ashe and I had
expended funds in conducting them that might very well
raise eyebrows in our respective funding agencies. Action
was clearly necessary to protect our very exposed rear
ends. Figuring offense was the best defense, we undertook
a two-pronged approach.
The next day I described my flight to Rudy Lehnert, my
lab manager, and Henry Payne, a former grad student of
mine serving as project manager of our V/STOL program.
I was not surprised by the enthusiasm with which they
immediately set to work on designing the velocity and angle
probes that would be required to conduct the necessary
flow field surveys, because I knew they were working on
getting their own blimp rides. I was, however, very much
surprised by the degree of enthusiastic support we received
from AT&D. While we built and calibrated the required
sensors, under the direction of Lcdr. Bill Barnes, their
instrumentation specialist, they undertook to construct a
mounting system that could be deployed from the bomb
bay to hold and position them as they were traversed from
The first was to have Rudy Lehnert, who was an
accomplished cinematographer, shoot a 16mm movie
of the entire operation to use as a film report. Capt.
Eppes, Commanding Officer of the Air Station, had been
made aware of our activities by Walt and arranged for a
helicopter to take Rudy aloft for the in-flight shots. (Years
later he was to borrow the film for the NAA, claiming it
showed airship operations as complete as any he was aware
of ). The second prong of our attack rested on the fact
that I had grown to know Jim Wakelin pretty well during
the years he had served as the Director of Research at the
Textile Research Institute located in Princeton, and had
stayed in touch with him after he had assumed the position
of Assistant Secretary of the Navy for R&D. Figuring that
a friend in high places couldn’t hurt, I informed him of
our activities and expressed the hope to see him when I
showed the film at a joint meeting of representatives of the
Air Branch of ONR and the Aircraft Division of BuWeps
on October 6th. He expressed interest in our efforts, asked
to be kept informed, but pleaded a previous commitment.
and although we knew a lot about both propellers and
rotors individually, we knew little about what transpired
either as a propeller disc rotated through 90° to become
a rotor, or during the reverse process that would occur
during the transition from hovering to forward flight.
Henry’s investigations demonstrated that much of what
we thought we did know was in error by as much as 20 to
The meeting on the 6th proved to be a critical turning
point in the project. By this time Henry Payne had
replaced the delta wing model with a powered propeller
and initial data showed significant differences between
wind tunnel and free air results. Armed with the film
and these preliminary results, what started as a mea
culpa account of the possible misuse of funds before a
thoroughly skeptical audience, ended with them urging
that we move beyond our lash-up arrangements and equip
the airship to perform serious work—the existence of
funding was implied, but amounts not specified until a
definite proposal was received.
We needed little encouragement. The ZS2G-1
envelope was scheduled to be scrapped by the end of the
year, so with Walt’s assistance, within two weeks I had
prepared, “A Proposal for the Modification of a ZPG-2
Airship to an Airborne Model Carriage” which detailed
the changes contemplated to be made in the larger ship
as an improved replacement—the removal of the radar
antenna and the installation of doors in the bottom of
the radome converting it into a “modome” the installation
of a 32 foot retractable model mounting strut with a
sleeve allowing it to retract into the envelope; and the
acquisition and installation of sufficient instrumentation
to handle a 6 component strain gage balance system. With
a price tag figured at $29,500, it was submitted to ONR
to be distributed, as necessary, to other potential funding
30 percent because of the wall effects arising from testing
in a confined test section.
I was able to take this information to the several
conferences called to consider the proposal with the
result that it was generally well received—until a memo
from ONR committing to funding the purchase of the
required instrumentation in view of BuWeps funding the
airship modifications, landed on Capt. Chambers’ desk.
This seemed to be the first he had heard of the operation.
As Director of Research in BuWeps he obviously felt the
“Poopy Bags” had blind-sided him, and were trying to
pull a fast one. He immediately demanded an explanation
from Walt Ashe. Fortunately, Walt had once worked for
Vadm. P. D. Stroop, Commander of BuWeps, who upon
hearing of the possible objection, was able to reverse it.
I use the word “fortunately,” because without awaiting
During the time this proposal was percolating through
the system, we continued Henry Payne’s propeller
investigations under the ZS2G-1. Tilt wings and/or
propellers were leading contenders as V/STOL systems,
authorization, Walt had already started the required
modifications. They had proceeded far enough that Henry
Payne, Frank Carter and Wayne Harrison were able to
present a paper on the results of the propeller tests, while
I narrated the film (complete with delta wing model) at
the annual meeting of the Institute of the Aeronautical
Sciences in New York on January 24, 1961, and a picture
of the ZPG-2 with a tilt wing model deployed beneath was
featured on the cover of the February issue of Aerospace
Engineering magazine. The Navy and Princeton issued a
joint news release at the same time and a number of papers
featured articles about “a new use for Navy blimps.”
First Balloon Flight is the Last
By David Hazen
In early March just as the idea of using an airship to
address the problems posed by testing V/STOL models
seemed to be attracting a lot of interest and potential users,
word was received that the rumors that the Navy’s LTA
program was to be cancelled were “substantially correct.”
I had kept Jim Wakelin abreast of our activities—we
had taken him for a demonstration ride in the ZS2G-1
in November—so I immediately called him, and then
followed up with a letter expressing my fears that my
baby was about to be thrown out with the bath water.
He replied he would look into it, but “the entire field is
fraught with both emotional and fiscal problems, which
I think we should really take a hard look at before final
decisions are made.”
It was to check on the status of our instrumentation
(which we needed returned) that I visited Lakehurst on
the morning of Monday, May 15. I was met by Walt
Ashe with, “Boy, do we have a thrill for you!” It seemed
that Fort Dix and Lakehurst shared the limited number
of potential visitors between them by celebrating Armed
Forces Day on adjacent weekends. The past weekend had
been Lakehurst’s turn, and as part of the activities two
of the old training free balloons had been inflated and
tethered and had been used to give children rides up and
down within the big hangar. This morning one had been
found to have lost most of its lift, but one was still in good
shape, so Capt. Eppes had decided to initiate some nonballoonists into the wondrous ways of unpowered LTA
The next weeks saw a flurry of activity as Henry Eppes
and Walt Ashe tried to come up with estimates of what
the operation of two airships—the one we were using and
one dedicated to Project Clinker, an infrared submarine
wake detector—would cost as stand alone operations in
the absence of the squadrons, and I worked with ONR
and BuWeps and DTMB to outline a program of research
compelling enough to warrant the expenditure. The
climax came on March 17th in a meeting with Secretary
Wakelin in his office attended by Vadm. Pirie DCNO Air,
Vadm. Haywood, Asst. CNO for R&D, Rdm. Raborn, of
the Polaris Program, Walt Ashe and myself. Pirie was dead
set against all airships; Haywood felt the V/STOL data
was important, but could perhaps be obtained in other
cheaper ways; Raborn was certain the Clinker data could
not be obtained without an airship; and Walt supplied
the requested fiscal and manpower data. Since my letter
to Wakelin stating the case for our program had been
circulated to all attendees, I kept my mouth shut. (End
Part One) Ω
(Ed. note: Part Two will follow in TNB 87. Now Dave has a
lighter tale that happened between FWT missions.)
Along with Eppes who was pilot, the others were Capt.
Fortune, Commanding Officer of the Air Test Facility, Cdr.
Little, Commanding Officer of the Technical Training
Unit (read parachute packing school), Lt. Kniely, who
coming to LTA late seemingly had missed free ballooning
when it was dropped from the training syllabus, and,
volunteered by Walt Ashe without previous warning, me.
Once the five of us climbed into the basket to stand on
a number of sandbags on the floor, the bags hanging on
the outside were removed by the ground crew one or two
at a time on Eppes’ command until we began to scrape
along the ground moved by the gentle breeze. “We’re off,”
Eppes announced as he opened a sand bag and started to
drop pinches of sand over the side. Our rate of scraping
increased, but we didn’t rise. Obviously concerned by
the rate with which we were approaching the buildings
down wind, Capt. Fortune spilled about half a bag of
sand overboard. We immediately shot upward, obviously
somewhat to Eppes‘ dismay as he had not wanted to valve
much gas so soon. Nevertheless, he did so, and we ceased
climbing at about 1200’.
It was a lovely day. We enjoyed both the scenery and
the experience of noiseless buoyant flight until it became
obvious we were heading toward an airspace where we had
no right to be at which point Eppes declared he would take
us down to demonstrate how the drag line worked until we
reached a suitable landing spot. He pulled the line leading
to the valve. Lt.
Kniely, looking
up the stem,
he pull again
since the valve
was still open.
He did so, but
the valve stayed
open. We started
to descend with
increasing rapidity
despite dropping
anything else we
could find in the
basket. The deflating envelope was formed into a parachute
shape by our rate of descent somewhat slowing it.
After disentangling ourselves and deflating the
remaining gas bubble, Cdr. Little who had followed us on
the ground, caught up. He reached Capt. Fortune first
to feign envy that he had enjoyed one more balloon ride
than Little, had. “Yes, I’ve had two. My first and my last!”
was the reply. Almost immediately the chase team arrived,
calmed down a somewhat disturbed farmer; collected
the balloon; straightened the pole; tightened the wires;
repaired a chimney damaged before we got the envelope
deflated; and replaced a bent TV antenna. Not attached
to any receiver, the antenna proved to be simply a status
symbol. Thus ended my only free balloon flight, which I
later learned happened also to be the Navy’s last. Ω
We all hung on as we descended through some trees to
hit with enough force to tip the basket and throw Capt.
Fortune and Cdr. Little out and the rest of us into jumble.
Little and Fortune hung on as we scraped along until a snag
broke Little’s grasp and freed of his weight, the envelope
still contained enough gas to lift us clear of the surrounding
trees with Capt. Fortune still hanging on outside. He was
pulled aboard just in time to prepare for our second crash,
this time slithering down a power line pole, tangling the
lines around the power wires and nearly landing on top of a
man operating a power mower who, alerted by our shadow,
had looked up in time to get out of the way.
Media Watch
detour into submarine development. Finally, you arrive in
the wonderful world of Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Eta,
Willows, and NulliSecundus, S.S.s, SSZs, Coastals and North
Sea types pursue U-boats around the British Isles, the
Med, and even go world-wide as they are sold to Russia,
Japan, and the USA. The best story and best photograph
from the new book, BRITISH AIRSHIPS 1905 1930,
even find their way into these first three sections.
The final sub-division is entitled, “Losing the Peace.”
This time the emphasis is on the between-the-wars years
in the United States. Once again the main topic is nonrigid craft, the pleasant surprise being the focus on U.S.
Army LTA program. While I knew that there was an Army
involvement in LTA, from before World War I through the
mid 1930s, I did not realize how large the program was,
how many ships distributed over how many bases were
involved, and how many experiments, both of design and
operations, were undertaken. It is a striking contrast with
how the U.S. Navy developed non-rigid LTA between the
wars, which is also covered.
My conclusion is that the opening of this exercise is a
little too convoluted, passing more information than is
truly needed as introduction to the actual subject matter.
Once the story line arrives at the 20th Century, this is
airship history from unique perspectives. You will come
out knowing more than when you came in. I recommend
it. Ω
“The Early Days” #1 of the Airship Video History Series,
Atlantis Productions. 1 hr 40 min. $30
Review by C. P. Hall
Ed is greatly relieved to finally complete the series first
proposed more than 15 years ago and eventually made possible
through the generous support of NAA members James Johnson,
Hepburn Walker, Jr. and Adolph Schope. It breaks my heart
it was not finished in time for them to enjoy, though the
two chapters covering the rigids and the WWII and postwar
episodes were completed before their passing. Member Robert
Feuilloy, Secrétaire général de l’ARDHAN, whose efforts also
made this video more accurate, complete, and entertaining,
e-mailed, “I have spent the necessary time to view your
video and I was so pleased to see the Chalais Meudon
flying in the USA. Your team has gathered a great amount
of videos and I know the pain it takes to do that over
the years. Sometimes the commentaries go too fast and
I would like to slow down the speed at which the images
appear…Overall it is an amazing work of great historical
value. Bravo and congratulations to all and specially
yourself.” Ω
THE EARLY DAYS is a DVD history of lighter-than-air
development and flight from before the earliest recorded
efforts until the beginning of the Second World War.
This history is divided into four sub-sections: Pre-First
World War, The early First World War, America’s entry
into the First World War, and the period of peacetime
that followed the First World War. The primary emphasis
of this history is the non-rigid type of airship. The semirigid type enjoys no more than emphasis in proportion to
its significance, and the rigid airship is mentioned to the
point of not being ignored but ignored to the point that
some viewers may be disappointed.
In a recent book review, I quoted an Englishman who
felt that the British non-rigids from the First World War
enjoyed enormous success but were under recognized as
the publicity went to the larger, but less successful, rigid
airships. To him I say, my friend, this is your DVD! First
you must get past the caveman (?), then Francisco de
Lana, the Montgolfiers, Dr. Soloman Andrews as well as a
archaeological expedition in 2006 that documented
the Macon’s remains. The expedition was a collaborative
venture involving NOAA’s Office of National Marine
Sanctuaries, NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and
Research, NOAA’s Preserve America Initiative, MBARI,
Stanford University, University of New Hampshire, U.S.
Navy, Monterey Maritime and History Museum and the
Moffett Field Historical Society and Museum. The Macon
wreck site includes the airship’s hangar bay, containing
its four Sparrowhawks and their detached landing gear.
Five of the Macon’s eight engines also have been identified
along with objects from the ship’s galley, including two
sections of the aluminum stove and the enlisted men’s
dining table and bench. Aluminum chairs and desks that
may have been in a port side officer’s or meteorologist’s
office also have been found. “Dirigibles were an important
development in the history of aviation and the Macon’s
remains represent the only archaeologically-documented
example of such aircraft in the United States and possibly
the world,” said Bruce Terrell, senior archaeologist, NOAA
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage
Program. The Macon wreck is the second site in Monterey
Bay National Marine Sanctuary to be included on the
National Register. The wreck of the California Gold Rush
side-wheel steamship Tennessee was listed in 1981.
USS Macon Added to National Register
of Historic Places
by Robert Schwemmer
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the loss of
the U.S. Navy airship USS Macon, NOAA on 11 FEB
10 announced that the wreck site on the seafloor within
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has been added
to the National Register of Historic Places. The Macon,
a 785-foot dirigible was one of the largest airships in
the world – comparable in size to the RMS Titanic. It
was intended to serve as a scout ship for the Pacific Fleet
and had the ability to launch and recover Sparrowhawk
biplanes. In service less than two years, the Macon, based
at Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, Calif., was damaged in a
storm on Feb. 12, 1935, and sank in the Pacific Ocean
off Point Sur, south of San Francisco. All but two of the
Macon’s 83 crewmen were rescued by nearby Navy ships.
“The USS Macon and its four associated Sparrowhawk
biplanes are not only historically significant to our nation’s
history, but have unique ties to our local communities,
where public museums highlight the airship’s history,” said
Paul Michel, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
superintendent. “The National Register listing highlights
the importance of protecting the wreck site and its
artifacts for further understanding our past.” The National
Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of
cultural places considered worth preserving. Authorized
by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the
Register is part of a national program to coordinate and
support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and
protect America’s historic and archeological resources.
Properties listed in the National Register can qualify for
federal grants for historic preservation.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s
environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface
of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and
marine resources.
The wreckage of the Macon and four aircraft lie at a depth
of more than 1,500 feet and were first documented in
1990 by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
(MBARI). Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
conducted a sonar survey in 2005 followed by the first
Visit: Office of National Marine
Sanctuaries: Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary Macon Expedition: Ω
History Committee
Project “YGAR” Explained
Previously Classified “Clinker” Program
… is still a secret. Why? President Bill Clinton declassified
most everything that was then 25 years old or older. Are
the veterans of this program concerned they may be
prosecuted if they talk about it? John Fahey happened
to take some home movies of the predecessor M-ship so
configured, but we know nothing else about that ship,
or the N-1 above, or the final ZPG-2 configuration that
evidently hollowed the radar dome so the airship looked
fairly normal.
… we hope, by one of our members before it’s too late.
The British demonstrated crew exchange with a surface
ship back in 1917. The US Navy finally caught up with
the idea in the mid 1950s. What’s so secret about putting
crewmen in a basket and sending them down to a surface
vessel, then hauling their reliefs back up to the airship?
The simply awful, fuzzy zerox above is the only image we
have of the N-1 modified to carry the large “radiometer”
(below) and we know nothing about how it was supposed
to find nuke subs by their heat trails.
These images were lifted from ALL HANDS magazine.
Yet little has been published… was the 4K (pictured,
also inside back cover) the first to use the basket? Motion
pictures show a telephone being used to talk while looking
up to the airship… so obviously the cable included a
phone line. Same wire as the “fish?” Film shows a pulley
system mounted on a smaller surface ship, not a carrier;
the movie’s “clapboard” was a home-drawn sheet of paper
with magic marker titles and dates. (This film, which exists
only in negative form, was tele-cined out of the Rosendahl
collection at UTD Dallas by Ed.) Still other movies, in
fact one official Goodyear film, show the crew exchange
was also done with the 5K. James Johnson donated a
new 5K winch to our Pensacola Museum; neither it nor a
photo of this unique part of history is in our LTA exhibit.
So what’s the full story on YGAR? Ω
The only reason we have even these scratchy images is
because someone thought it necessary to create a “cover
story” as to why these rather large protuberances were
jutting out from the airship cars. The magazine article
stated the research was to “study ocean currents,” the same
line of bull given the newspapers on the West Coast when
the ZPG-2 stenciled #12 showed up at Santa Ana years
after all the other blimps there were long gone. Ω
Mysteries of the Boundary Layer Study
Translated from German text of Dr. Eng. Fritz Sturn and
Dpl. Eng. G. Molt, VDI, April 15, 1939
(VDI = Society of German Engineers)
Courtesy John Mellburg Typist: Betty Brouwer
Additional photos: Ed. Drawing: David Fowler
…are also losing participants before they talk. ZS2G-1
#559 was obviously streamlined, as the above photo shows
– smoothing fabric over the nose battens. (This photo was
run in “Aerospace Engineering” with the Flying Wind
Tunnel article, nothing about BL work.) Look closely at
the tail.
The static buoyancy of all German airships in the past
was regulated during flight by discharge of hydrogen or
water. Water ballast had to be carried along to assure the
rapid re-establishment of buoyancy equilibrium, which
is affected by sudden temperature variations, leaks in lift
gas cells, vertical thermals, the diminishing weight of
fuel supply, etc. It stands to reason that the valving of
hydrogen is inefficient and in the case of helium, cost wise
totally out of question.
In addition, there is the further and more important
factor of danger of valving hydrogen during certain
weather conditions, as the case of the Hindenburg disaster
might indicate. The airship GZ-1 used engine fuel that
had approximately the weight of air, hence no appreciable
buoyancy change occurred as the fuel load diminished
during flight.
Some sort of vacuum arrangement was supposedly used
to draw air into the fin. Our own Norm Mayer flew inside
the fin of an airship, but no one has copies of the reports
made about the success or failure of the program. The fin
image above was run in a Goodyear employee paper, or we
wouldn’t even have that. The editor seems to remember an
image of a ZPG-2 also streamlined, though it might have
been only a drawing, there is no information.
In the case of the Hindenburg it was decided, for the
first time in the [German] airship industry, to use diesel
engines for reasons of economy and safety. However, this
brought to the fore once again, the problem of ballast
recovery during flight. This was further intensified due to
the very short layover periods after landing. This did not
permit a supplemental filling or adding of hydrogen gas
to make up for the valved gas that had been lost during
flight maneuvers.
And then there is “Sniffer,” designed to detect the stinky
diesel exhaust of a submarine miles away, which was said
to be so sensitive pointing it inland would set it off owing
to the diesel semi-trucks on the highways. That’s not to
mention Julie gear… and Jezebel… all previously classified
gear undoubtedly developed with airships. How come
little or nothing has been published?
Gentle reader, stop and consider YOU might be the last
man alive who can tell these stories – and others no one
even remembers the acronym for. Or perhaps you have a
non-NAA friend who worked these programs? A phone
call might end the mystery. If you don’t do it, who will?
Let the Editor have it at [email protected] Ω
This particular process was experimentally developed
by the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin in Friedrichshafen. Later,
however, during full scale tests with the airship, a number
of obstacles were encountered. The dependence of this
method on the respective moisture content of the air at
any one time requires an additional load factor for the
technical useful realization, which is relatively complex in
its control variable technique.
The efforts to solve this problem efficiently is decades
old. Already in 1910 trials were under way to use hydrogenfueled engines. The water ballast recovery from the engine
exhausts was also being investigated during the lifetime of
Graf Zeppelin himself, (prior to 1917). The unsatisfactory
results derived from these experiments, however, forced
further and different methods to be investigated; among
them was a means of taking on ballast from bodies of
water encountered enroute, such as lakes and oceans.
These efforts met with more or less success. New and
improved water scoops were tried with the Hindenburg,
with limited results.
Other methods occasionally suggested, like the use
of water assimilating ammonia or sulfuric acid, are, of
course, unsuitable for use in the airship for safety reasons
alone. The utilization of absorption, exhaust gas, carbon
dioxide, has no possible chance for success as a water
recovery system.
Experiments were undertaken in England to use
hydrogen as an additive to the fuel used in their airship
diesel motors. The English airship R-101 was equipped
with Beardmore Diesels. However, no reports appeared in
any trade journal of the results. In the crashed R-101,
there were no hydrogen additive fuel operated diesel
motor installations. In the U.S.A., trials were also made
with smaller motors, to use hydrogen as an additive
to the diesel fuel; but these efforts were not connected
with airship engines or airship operation. The Zeppelin
Airship Construction Company did not use or pay much
attention to these fuel mixture trials as it proved to be a
very complicated undertaking in connection with safety,
regulating, etc. and secondly, because no significant
compensating weight factor could be achieved.
The American Navy Airships Akron and Macon were
equipped with swiveling propellers that could be tilted into
a horizontal position. Looking into future development,
the Zeppelin Corporation staff was active already in
1931 and tried out the use of a swivel prop system in
connection with the regularly used motor gondolas and
achieved very good success. It was decided however, to
refrain from incorporating this change in the LZ-130 in
view of the fact that the problem of static balance is not
solved thereby, but rather is a considerable supplementary
means in assisting landings and take-offs.
The evident contamination of water secured from exhaust
gases resulting in untenable after and side effects, directed
the attention towards the exploitation of water vapor in
the air; for instance, through the use of silica gel, which
attracts moisture and discharges the water when heated.
As a result of all the above mentioned experimental
work, it became clear that the only remaining method
for ballast recovery was the cooling of exhaust gases of
the motors. Careful and exhaustive laboratory tests were
undertaken, which in time, provided all the required
answers. This permitted the decision to use this recovery
method for the new airship LZ -130. Ω
At the beginning of the new research and development
work at the Zeppelin Airship Corp. in 1935 there were
only two methods in evidence, with any promise success:
The hydrogen engine and recovery of water ballast by
means of cooling of the engine exhaust. Although
further work on hydrogen engines came to a halt after the
Hindenburg disaster, a brief report on the results of this
work is in order.
Specific details were provided in the Bauer--Dugan book
“LZ130 Graf Zeppelin and the End of Commercial Airship
Travel” (1996):
In September of 1935 work was started with an
old Maybach Airship Motor, “Type MB. IVa” which
had an output of 250 HP, using conventional aircraft
gasoline. Shortly thereafter, it became possible to attain
approximately one third of this HP after long trial runs
using hydrogen. The main characteristic feature of this
motor was the single mixing valve employed at each
cylinder. Further development and trials with larger
motors of various designs and construction proved the
influence and effect of the shape of the combustion
chambers. The relative best results were achieved with a
“BMW 6” motor. The top performance of this motor by
a 1:5 compression ratio using A.S. gas was 650 HP. With
hydrogen a continuous output of 200 HP was achieved by
a 1500 RPM P/M. The consumption was 0.85 M3/p sh.8
corresponding to 2040 K CAL/P sh. relative to a lower
calorific value of hydrogen of 2400 K CAL/M3.
“Tests on the corrosive effects of the water ballast on the
whole installation had been carried out since March. They
showed ordinary gas oil to contain so much sulphuric
acid that after combustion the water ballast contained a
high level of SO4, which after a short time would destroy
the cooling and collection tanks, and the water itself
would be so sour as to be unsuitable for either washing
or washing up. Experiments in other directions, such as
using copper, were rejected because the weight would be
comparatively high and especially because the protective
covering for the pipes would be eaten away in a few weeks.
However, a solution suggested itself through the use of
German synthetic “Kogasin-Diesel” which contained
only a small trace of sulphuric acid thus removing the
risk of corrosion… it produced clean water… Following
experiments, it was established that with the use of
synthetic gas oil from Ruhrchemie, with 13.5% hydrogen,
a complete weight exchange could be obtained; that is to
say from 1 kg of gas oil at an exhaust gas temperature of
21 degrees and with a temperature of 16 degrees, 1 kg of
water could be recovered.” Ω
The exhaust cooled to 20o C resulted in a yield of
0.71 L. water per 1 M3 of consumed hydrogen gas, by
continuous operation, a 70% humidity and a 15º C air
temperature. With this engine a compensating weight
factor the LZ-129 could have been achieved, as follows:
the hydrogen consumption amounted to 170 M3/h and
the recovered amount of water from the exhaust gases
120 Kg/h. Calculating 1 M3 hydrogen = approx. 1Kg lift
resulting in a weight increase of 290 Kg7h. The four diesel
motors (Daimler Benz LOF 6) of the LZ-129 required
approximately 4x135=540 Kg/h gas oil at a continuous
output of 300 HP corresponding to a consumption
of 168g/PSH. This means that by the same airship
speed (33.5 m/s-1206 KM/h) and an added hydrogen
engine, they would have had to produce 50 KP less each
and therefore would have used only 505 Mg/h gas oil.
Therefore, a compensating weight factor of 290/505 =
57% would have resulted. It follows that the airship could
have been equipped with two such hydrogen engines to
achieve the desired compensating weight magnitude.
Next page: enjoy the excellent re-creation of the allinclusive LZ-130 power car by David Fowler. The most
obvious difference in the last rigid’s construction than the
more than 100 “pushers” that came before him, the power
cars were an engineering marvel themselves. In 1940 one set
of Nazi goons ordered the LZ-130 to be completely destroyed,
with nothing to be saved even for museum purposes. Then
designated to be sacrificed in a last-ditch effort to save the
Nazi invasion of Norway, the assigned Luftwaffe officer
arrived in Friedrichshafen to find LZ-130 in the final stages
of demolition – not by LZ-workers, who had refused the
Nazi’s order, but by an SS unit. Ω
Ready Room
SEPTEMBER 24, 25, 26, 2010
Reunion HQ: Sheraton Sunnyvale Hotel
1100 North Mathilda Avenue,
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Complimentary pre-arranged shuttle service to and
from the San Jose airport M-F, 7am-7pm; Free selfparking; Flat panel HD TV in every room. Sweet Sleeper
bed in every room. Starbucks coffee in every room.
Heated outdoor olympic sized pool. Free internet in all
public areas as well as complimentary internet up to 45
minutes in our signature LINK Center; transportation
arrangements Sat-Sun.
Members will make their own reservations with the
Sheraton per the flier’s instructions.
In the late Spring, you should have received information
by mail to make your reservations. Hotel, airship flights,
reception and banquet will be available “ala carte” for
separate purchase.
Tentative Schedule:
Friday, September 24:
Welcome Aboard Reception
Saturday, September 25:
Moffett Field Historical Society Museum: Barbeque lunch
at Museum
Pending for Saturday the 25th, based on the commitment
of 60 seats (that’s only 30 couples!):
Half-hour flights in Eureka, the largest and most advanced
airship in the world today, from Moffett. Members make
their own reservations.
If you have not received a Reunion mailing by June
1st please contact Treasurer, Peter F. Brouwer. The first
Reunion of what became the NAA was 1980. Come
celebrate 30 years of NAA! Ω
Other Ready Room marks for your calendar:
April 16 to June 22, 2010, in Logroño (La Rioja), Spain:
“Leonardo Torres Quevedo. The Conquering of the Air” Ω
AA Convention / AHT’s 80th anniversary of the R101
crash. Tentative schedule SEP 29 – OCT 4: Weds 29th
Sept - Mayor of Bedford opens new airship gallery in
town, Museum and Conference Registration opens. 30th
and 1 OCT - Conference and partner program - Banquet
in evening Sat 2nd - Visit to Cardington sheds to see
Skykitten and watch model Airship Regatta. Public opening
of airship gallery at Museum. Sun 3rd - Commemorative
service for R101 in Cardington Church (seating limited
to invited guests only) followed by re-dedication at the
tomb in the churchyard (open to public).. Mon 4th Peter Davison and Giles Camplin will be giving a lecture
on R101 at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. Ω
NAA special target price per seat, half-hour ride,
$225, subject to change.
Sunday, September 26:
Free daytime; NAA Banquet in the evening
Black Blimp
James Crowley Jr., 85, passed 2
JAN 10. A Bronx native, Crowley was
a resident of Houma, LA, and activist
supporter of the Regional Military
Museum Foundation. He was known
locally as a generous humanitarian.
Crowley served in LTA during WWII
and worked to preserve the history
of the Houma Naval Air Station. He is survived by
his wife Shirley, four sons and a daughter, and many
grandchildren. Ω
From the United Kingdom’s Airship Association,
Arnold Nayler sent the sad news: “Roger Munk died of
a major heart attack on Sunday morning 21st February.
He was only 63. He will be sadly missed by all at HAV,
his family and the world airship community. I am sure
that you will agree that modern technology airships would
not be the same without the serious design development
work that he undertook, firstly on the large methane gas
carrier airship design for Shell in 1970, on long-distance
balloons, on the successful Skyship 500, 500HL, the
various 600 versions, the Sentinel 1000 and the design
of the YEZ-2A for the US Navy. Trained and working as
a naval architect, he switched to lighter-than-air and was
recognized worldwide as the leader in the field during his
40 years involvement with airships.”
Herman “Tex” Dukes passed on 26 DEC 09. Tex
retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer. Most of his “war
stories” involved his time with Lighter-Than- Air service.
Tex is survived by Jill, his wife of 68 years, his children,
many nieces, nephews and friends. He was buried with
full military honors as a celebration of his 30 years of
service to the nation. Ω
John Emerson Jackson, Jr., 86, passed
10 MAR 10. He was born in Gloucester,
New Jersey, and enlisted shortly after Pearl
Harbor, advancing from E1 to E9, later
being commissioned. He earned citation
for extraordinary heroism in the Korean
Campaign, pioneering the employment
of helicopters under combat conditions and participating
in successful life saving missions with Sikorsky helicopters.
He was awarded for services in Vietnam, and Citation for
Bravery for battling a ravaging fire on the USS Oriskany
in 1966. He was married in 1952 to Rena B. Williams
in Honolulu, and was married for 48 years before losing
‘the love of his life’. He is survived by his three children,
grandchildren and extended nieces and nephews. Ω
“Fiddler’s Green” is sailor’s heaven, the place where all
good seafarers go, a paradise or Elysium where unlimited
supplies of rum, women and tobacco are provided. Unlike
Davy Jones’s Locker, the final resting place of sailors lost at
sea, it is on land, the place where sailors go who die ashore.
It is very like Cockaigne, another mythical country of
luxury and idleness. Its origins are unfortunately even
more obscure than those of “Cockaigne”, and as elusive as
that magical place, Glockamorra. Ω
Mike Conners wrote only a week later, “It is with
great sadness that I convey the news of the loss of George
Spyrou, Saturday morning, February 27th. He lives in my
memory as a great leader in LTA; a man of great integrity
and vision. I will miss him.” In the photo above, Mike
(left) gives George the AIAA’s Lifetime Achievement
Lighter Side of LTA
The company promised him a Golden one, but times
are tough....
“In those days [WWI], fires in airplanes were common so common that, in fear of a firey end, some pilots carried
pistols to commit suicide; others chose to jump to a quick
death… Pilots weren’t eager to adopt a parachute either.
They argued that carrying one showed a lack of trust in
one’s machine… Army brass [feared] that the presence of
parachutes would make pilots abandon their machines
needlessly.” – L. Ritter, “Pack Man: Charles Broadwick
Invented A New Way of Falling” – AIR & SPACE
Dave Hazen recalls, “The first WEPTASK ASSIGNMENT
covering this [FWT] work gave rise to a continuing bit of
ribald humor concerning the name of the system. In my
original proposal to modify the ZPG-2, I had referred to
an “Airborne Model Carriage.” The Weptask renamed it
the “ZPG-2 Aerodynamic Test Facility.” Neither provided
a particularly jazzy acronym. We thought we could do
better. Forrestal Aeronautical Research Tool, FART,
had LTA connotations; Princeton Inair Model Platform,
PIMP, sounded professional; the Tunnel in the Sky, TITS,
appealed because we thought the two observation globes
fitted to the side ports so one could stick one’s head in for
a good view of the model below were highly suggestive
and that a winged brassier might be an appropriate project
logo. Cooler heads prevailing, the Flying Wind Tunnel,
FWT, though not particularly exciting steered clear of
numerous minefields.” 
Mike Kolasa also supplied the images above showing the
New Jersey junkyard’s airship storage section prior to the
collector’s death and subsequent selloff. The single ZP-2K,
second from the “closed” end, was purchased by NASM
and has at least been stabilized. Two ZP3Ks, -47 and -88,
became our treasure at Pensacola (back cover), the remaining
3K hulks winding up with Mr. Kermit Weeks in Florida.
The single ZP4K, on the “closed” end of the lineup above,
disintegrated while attempting to move it. Its magnesium
construction is likely to blame. What is believed to be a 4K in
the photo below (kindly located and snapped by Goodyear at
Ed.’s request 10 + years ago, and likely all but gone now) may
be the very one described by Ed Stephany in “Pigeon Cote.”
The 4K is often mistaken for a wartime K-ship though it’s
rarely-photographed car (right) was unique inside and out.
Above: The K-47 car that was recovered from the New jersey rubbish heap and now fully restored and on display at the
National Naval Aviation Museum of Naval in Pensacola. (NNAM photo via Mort Eckhouse) Below: The K-28, whch was
donated by Goodyear to the New England Air Museum undergoing restoration at the Museum at Windsor
Locks, Ct. (NEAM photo via John Craggs)
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