Dirigibles over New Jersey

by John Keegan


Arriving at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station you were directed to the parking lot. From there it was a short walk to Hanger #1.

Hanger #1 was constructed in 1921. It was 966 feet long, 350 feet wide and 200 feet high. It's floor area measured 211,434 square feet and when it was completed it was the largest building with enclosed space. It was so large that it sometimes rained in the building even though it was dry and clear outside. The hanger doors each weighed 1350 pounds and were 136 ft wide, 177 ft high and were operated by 2-20 Horsepower motors.

We were fortunate to be there when the USS Los Angeles ZR-3 landed. As it neared touchdown a group of sailors took hold of lines dropped from the ship. They gently guided it to the mooring mast and coupled the airship to it. The mast ran on a track that positioned the lighter than air ship so that it could be backed into Hanger #1 next to a much larger dirigible the USS Akron ZRS 4.

Another day at Belmar we were treated to the sight of the USS Akron ZRS 4 slowly making its way up the coast in a northerly direction. Surprise, surprise, suddenly from out of the airships belly dropped a fighter plane followed by four others. In simulation of repelling an enemy airplane attack the pursuits performed acrobatics,climbing , zooming, all intricate maneuvers to thwart damage to their mother ship.

After about twenty minutes of this action they suddenly formed a long line and descended to about 300 ft and about one half mile off shore in a simulated strafing attack to the cheers and applause of the beach goers. That ended and they returned to more fancy flying, then it was time to catch the trapeze and return to the mother ship all five were retrieved and the Akron slowly turned and heads back to it's base at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station.


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