USS Macon (ZRS-5)
Built at Akron, Ohio, USS Macon was a rigid airship, which first flew in April 1933. Designed in 1926, along with sister ship, USS Akron (ZRS-4), to utilize Helium gas, the 6,500,000 cubic foot ship had eight power plants, which enabled propeller movement in all directions. Also stowed onboard were four small scout or fighter-type aircraft, which could be brought onboard via retractable trapeze.
Following a series of test flights in the southern United States, Macon relocated to the Pacific Coast at Moffett Field, California, where her fleet scouting was tested. Damaged by weather in April 1934, she was repaired for further exercises and departed on a long-distance journey to meet up with USS Houston (CA-30), carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt from Panama to Hawaii.
Macon continued tests into early 1935. Returning to Moffett Field from an operation over the Pacific Ocean on February 12, she encountered a storm off Point Sur, California. Her upper fin was torn off by a violent gust, which caused her to be brought down into deep waters. Two of her crew were lost. This loss ended the U.S. Navy's rigid airship progarm. Her sister ship, Akron, crashed tail-first into the Atlantic Ocean on April 4, 1933, after flying into a violent storm off the New Jersey coast.
Image: NH 65302: USS Macon (ZRS-5), flying over San Diego Harbor, California, Feburary 9, 1934. NHHC Photograph Collection.