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USS Macon crashes...



Item # 558000

February 13, 1935

LEOMINSTER DAILY ENTERPRISE, Massachusetts, February 13, 1935

* USS Macon (ZRS-5) crashes (1st report)
* United States Navy Airship


This 8 page newspaper has two column headlines on the front page: "DIRIGIBLE MACON FORCED DOWN AT SEA; SHIPS RUN TO RESCUE OF HER CREW", "ONLY TWO MISSING AS MACON LIES AT BOTTOM OF PACIFIC; 81 SURVIVORS SAVED BY FLEET".

Other news of the day throughout. Light browning with little spine wear, otherwise in good condition.

wikipedia notes: On February 12, 1935 the repair process was still incomplete when, returning to Sunnyvale from fleet maneuvers, Macon ran into a storm off Point Sur, California. During the storm, she was caught in a wind shear which caused structural failure of the unstrengthened ring (17.5) to which the upper tailfin was attached. The fin failed to the side and carried away. Pieces of structure punctured the rear gas cells and caused gas leakage. Acting rapidly and on fragmentary information an immediate and massive discharge of ballast was ordered. Control was lost and, tail heavy and with engines running full speed ahead, the Macon rose past the pressure height and kept going until enough helium was vented to cancel the lift. It took her 20 minutes to descend from 4,850 ft and, settling gently into the sea, Macon sank off the California coast. Only two crewmembers from her complement of 76 died, thanks to the warm conditions and the introduction of life jackets and inflatable rafts after the Akron tragedy. The two that perished did so needlessly: Radioman 1 class Ernest Edwin Dailey jumped ship after it had lost most of its altitude but was still high above the ocean surface; Mess Attendant 1 class Florentino Edquiba drowned while swimming back into the wreckage to try to retrieve personal belongings. The cause of the loss was operator error following the structural failure and loss of the fin. Had the ship not been driven over pressure height (where the cells were expanded fully and lifting gas released) Macon could have made it back to Moffett Field.

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

Category: The 20th Century

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