Thursday, June 16, 2016


As I mentioned in this post I visit the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, now part of the Joint Base MDL, doing grassland bird surveys.

But I also look around.

And once upon a time Lakehurst was pretty famous. Albeit for a tragic reason.

This simple monument, in an otherwise empty field, is all that marks the site where commercial airship travel came to an end.

The Hindenburg crash site.

Look at the plague closely. The monument was "donated". Really? The Ocean County board of freeholders dug into their own pockets for this? Maybe, but I doubt it. And shouldn't such a plague be about the event and not about the freeholders, who are all listed by name here?

Lakehurst was first home to dirigibles, airships with a rigid internal frame, when Hanger #1 was completed in the summer of 1921.

I've actually been in this building (you can too). It is big and empty. A relic of a former era.

An era when the navy had ships at sea and ships in the air.

Now all that are left are the hangers. And the history.


Of course there are still airships floating about. Here's one I spotted out my office window yesterday.

Blimps are non-rigid lighter than air craft common at major sporting events (and NASCAR races), as floating billboards and novelty camera platforms. Although this one is curiously unmarked.

Occasionally reports of new rigid airships appear.* I even spotted a test airship at Lakehurst a year or two ago (I thought I had some pictures, alas I can't find any, misfiled on a hard drive no doubt). The idea of an aircraft that doesn't need fuel to get off the ground has a continuing appeal. But they never seem to get past the test stage. Too slow to compete with planes and to small to compete with cargo ships I suppose.

I think it would be cool to have giant lighter than air craft floating by on a regular basis. Maybe someday. I hope they keep trying.


* Thanks to Marie for the link!

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