The Short Life of the USS Macon

Building the USS Macon airship in the early 1930s
Building the USS Macon airship in the early 1930s

Macon (ZRS‑5), a rigid frame airship designated for scouting purposes, was built by the Goodyear‑Zeppelin Corp., of Akron, Ohio; christened 11 March 1933 by Mrs. William A. Moffett wife of Rear Admiral Moffett; and commissioned 23 June 1933, Comdr. Alger H. Dresel in command.

Designed to carry five F9C biplanes, Macon received her first aircraft on board 6 July 1933 during trial flights out of Lakehurst, N.J. Departing the east coast 12 October 1933, Macon’s homefield became Sunnyvale, Calif. She operated out of that base until 12 February, when, returning from fleet maneuvers, she ran into a storm off Point Sur, Calif. During the storm, she was caught in a sudden updraft which caused structural failure of her upper fin and resultant gas leakage and loss of control. Settling to the sea, Macon sank off the California coast, losing only two crewmembers.

Macon, having completed 50 flights from her commissioning date, was stricken from the Navy list on 26 February 1935. Subsequent airships for Navy use were of a nonrigid design to make them less vulnerable to meteorologic phenomena.

ZRS‑5 Details: dead wt. 108.2; total lifting power ability 179.9; l. 785′; diameter, hull 132’10”; lit. from ground 146’2″; nominal gas volume 6,500,000 cu. ft.; max. s. 75.6 k.; Cpl. 91

Source: US Naval History and Heritage Command, accessed 4/26/2015

~Thanks to Steven Polunsky for this post

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