Friday, October 13, 2006

Found: The USS Macon

It's been a while since Pablo's Point has posted anything about Zeppelins, blimps or dirigibles. This week I found an article on the USS Macon (through Arts & Letters Daily) from Der Spiegel in Germany. It details the deep sea discovery & subsequent ocean floor investigation of the great Zeppelin Aircraft Carrier - yes, that's right - a flying aircraft carrier. From the Akron Beacon Journal: "The Macon had acted as a flying aircraft carrier; planes were lowered from the cargo bay with their engines running at flight speed. When they were released, they were already in full flight. To return to the ship, pilots had to maneuver under a catch-hook to be pulled back into the bay."

This beauty was designed to carry 5 Sparrowhawk fighters on it - the fighter planes took off from the zeppelin & hooked back up to it upon return. In mid-air they'd have to hook up their plane to the harness to "land". The pilots were called "trapeze artists". Amazing. The Macon was a helium dirigible built by Goodyear & The Zeppelin Company of Germany. And ironically it's the remains of these Sparrowhawk fighters that are the most visible remains on the ocean floor off the coast of California. (Der Spiegel has a photo gallery where you can really see the outlines of the wings of these biplanes.)

Wikipedia also has a nice entry on the USS Macon with photos & more stories - as does OceansLive. LucidCafé.com has an interesting piece on the crash and the subsequent end of the US Navy's Airship program. The Christian Science Monitor has a report on this and a great undersea picture of the Macon's landing gear. The Akron Beacon Journal also has a nice piece on the phenomenon that was the USS Macon. The San Jose Mercury News has a neat article on the exploration of the wreckage too.