Monthly Archives: June 2013

USS Macon ZRS-5

English: U.S.S. Macon moored at south circle, ...

English: U.S.S. Macon moored at south circle, viewed from camera inside of Hangar 1. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The USS Macon ZRS-5 and its sister ship (USS Akron ZRS-4) were the largest helium-filled rigid airships ever built, and the largest airships built in the United States. The Hindenburg LZ-129 was 19 feet 10 inches longer and is the largest airship ever built, and the largest hydrogen-filled airship ever built. Because of the size of the Macon and the Akron, German engineers came from Germany to assist with the design and construction of the sister ships.

A U.S. Navy consolidated N2Y-1 in the hangar o...

A U.S. Navy consolidated N2Y-1 in the hangar of the airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) in 1933/34. The USN equipped six N2Y-1s with hooks to train pilots for the Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk fighters and also used the N2Y-1 as liaison planes between the ground and the airship. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Macon was built as a flying aircraft carrier, carrying 5 F9C Sparrowhawk biplanes. The Macon was commissioned on 23 June 1933, and docked its first airplane on 6 July 1933. The planes were stored inside the hull of the airship.

A plane carried by the USS Macon blimp. Pictur...

A plane carried by the USS Macon blimp. Picture taken by Mark Pellegrini in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Smithsonian Air and Space museum extension in Dulles, Virginia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk (BuNo 9058) in fli...

A Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk (BuNo 9058) in flight over Moffet Field, California in 1934, flown by Lt. ‘Min’ Miller. This aircraft was lost with the USS Macon (ZRS-5). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 24 June 1933, the Macon left Lakehurst, New Jersey, the site of its construction, for its new base near San Francisco, California. The Macon developed the procedures for using airplanes from an airship for scouting purposes. While the airplanes were onboard the Macon, the landing gear was removed and replaced with fuel tanks, increasing the airplane’s range by 30%.

A Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk inside USS Akron (...

A Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk inside USS Akron (ZRS-4) hangar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Macon had a stellar reputation, with an outstanding performance record. Just before the fatal crash of the Macon, the airship was forced to dump 9,000 pounds of ballast and 7,000 pounds of fuel to clear mountains in Arizona. The Macon had to fly up to 6,000 feet, more than twice as high as its maximum flight ceiling altitude of 2,800 feet. Even with the dump of fuel and ballast the airship was still 15,000 pounds heavy and had to be flown at full speed to maintain altitude. As the airship approached a mountain pass near Van Horn, Texas it encountered severe turbulence and had a rapid drop in altitude, damaging the rear of the airship. Fast action by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Robert Davis saved the Macon. Permanent repairs were scheduled for the Macon’s next overhaul, an overhaul that would never happen.

English: USS Macon docked inside Hangar One at...

English: USS Macon docked inside Hangar One at Moffett Field. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then on 12 February 1935 while returning to its base, the Macon ran into a storm off Point Sur, California. The Macon was caught in a wind shear and the repaired tail section of the airship failed again, puncturing a gas cell. The crew performed a massive ballast dump to keep the Macon out of the sea. The Macon reached 4,850 feet and then slowly descended as it continued to lose helium, eventually sinking into the Pacific Ocean. Two of the 76 crewman perished. Radioman First Class Ernest Dailey jumped into the sea while the airship was still too high. Mess Attendant First Class Florentiono Edquiba drowned while swimming back into the Macon to retrieve personal belongings. Commander Wiley, the airships commanding officer, was later decorated for attempting to swim the Edquiba’s aid.

It was later determined that if the Macon had not gone above its 2,800 foot ceiling it could have survived the structural failure of the stern section of the airship and could have returned to its base. Also lost with the Macon were the four aircraft it was carrying at the time. The Macon had completed 50 flights since it was commissioned, and was stricken from the register of Navy ships on 26 February 1935. All future airships of the Navy would be non-rigid blimps.

English: the sky hook located at the center of...

English: the sky hook located at the center of the Curtiss Sparrowhawk F9C-2 biplanes. During flight, the pilot would position the aircraft below the USS Macon’s hanger where a trapeze was lowered to hook the plane. Sparrowhawk pilots were nicknamed the “men on the flying trapeze.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1991, the Macon was found. The debris field was explored with sonar, still photography and video; some artifacts were also recovered. In 2005, a side-scan sonar survey was made of the wreck site. In 2006, another expedition went to the wreck site, this time with high-definition video as well. More than 10,000 images of the debris field were taken. The exact location of the Macon, within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, remains a secret. However, it is known that the debris field is more than 1,500 feet deep.

2006-103-1 Fragment of Life Boat, USS Macon

2006-103-1 Fragment of Life Boat, USS Macon (Photo credit: Naval History & Heritage Command)

The United States used the safe, inert helium gas for its rigid airships. The United States, at that time, had almost all of the known reserves of helium, and refused to allow the export of helium to Nazi Germany. Germany was thus forced to use the highly dangerous and flammable hydrogen gas for all of its rigid airships. Yet, Germany had a much better safety record with its rigid airships. By the time, the United States decided to enter the rigid airship industry Germany had been building rigid airships for more than three decades. Germany used rigid airships during World War One to great effect, greatly increasing the German technology in rigid airship design, construction, and operation. The difference in experience is undoubtedly one of the major factors in the diverse safety records of the two countries.

A U.S. Navy consolidated N2Y-1 hooking up on t...

A U.S. Navy consolidated N2Y-1 hooking up on the airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) in 1933/34. The USN equipped six N2Y-1s with hooks to train pilots for the Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk fighters and also used the N2Y-1 as liaison planes between the ground and the airship. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A U.S. Navy airship, either USS Akron (ZRS-4) ...

A U.S. Navy airship, either USS Akron (ZRS-4) or USS Macon (ZRS-5), over Puget Sound, Washington (USA). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Navy airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) conduc...

The U.S. Navy airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) conducts initial operations with her Curtiss F9C-2 “Sparrowhawk” aircraft, over New Egypt, New Jersey (USA), on 7 July 1933. The two planes, visible below the airship, were piloted by Lieutenant D. Ward Harrigan and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Frederick N. Kivette. (Text: US Navy) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: USS Akron flying over the southern en...

English: USS Akron flying over the southern end of Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, circa 1931-1933 (Photo #: NH 43900) Deutsch: USS Akron (ZRS-4) über Manhattan (1931-1933) Français : USS Akron (ZRS-4) au dessus de Manhattan (1931-1933) Italiano: USS Akron mentre sorvola l’isola di Manhattan, New York City Nederlands: zeppelin de USS Akron boven Lower Manhattan Español: Dirigible USS Akron sobre la isla de Manhattan, Nueva York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The USS Macon inside Hangar One at Moffett Fie...

The USS Macon inside Hangar One at Moffett Field on October 15, 1933, following a transcontinental flight from Lakehurst, New Jersey. Navy photo ID: NH 85746 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Filed under airships, history, New, ships

For Those We Love

English: Photo of author Vince Flynn taken by ...

English: Photo of author Vince Flynn taken by Phil Konstantin in San Diego on October 31, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week saw the loss of several people we all know of, though most of us have never met. The one who caught my eye and occupied many of my thoughts this week was novelists Vince Flynn. Vince was 47 years old. He was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. There were several things I contemplated while thinking of Vince. I have several personal friends and acquaintances who have fought cancer, some of whom lost their valiant struggle. Vince is a couple of years younger than I, and his youngest daughter is one year older than my daughter. Then of course Vince wrote 14 best sellers, and I write (I am still working towards my first best seller). Vince is survived by his wife Lysa, a stepson 16, and his two daughters 11 and 9.

Cover of "Term Limits"

Cover of Term Limits

Like so many bestselling authors, Vince’s first novel, Term Limits, was rejected by the established publishers. He collected 60 rejection slips before he self-published Term Limits, which went on to become a success, after which he received a publishing contract and an agent. He wrote 15 novels and his latest novel is coming out soon.

I never knew Vince, but there are several things I would like to point out about Vince, things we can all learn from him.

First, he did not quit. How many of us can say we could take 60 rejection slips and still push forward. Like so many of the other people I have written about over the past year, Vince did not become successful on his first try, his second, or even his sixtieth. When people kept shutting the door on Vince, he created his own door, publishing his first novel on his own. Perseverance, that is what it takes to be successful.

His family morns him now, but they have their memories which they will always cherish, the best of all legacies. Equally important to Vince, if not his family, is his ability to provide for his family even after he has left them. Copyrights are good for 50 years after the death of the author, they are also transferable like other property (such as money, houses, cars) and can be bequeathed in a will to your survivors. So, until June 19, 2063, Vince’s royalties from his work will continue to be paid to the family he loved so much. His children will be older than I am now when the copyright runs out. His grandchildren, yet to be born, will also benefit from his work as a bestselling author.

It is very fortunate for not only his family, but also us his readers, that Vince persevered and published Term Limits on his own. If he had put his writing aside instead of publishing it himself, it would be sitting on a shelf somewhere today, collecting dust. It is rare for a discarded manuscript to be published after the author’s death. So, what are we to learn from Vince?

Finish your book, no more excuses, finish your book. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry (poke poke Mon Chere), it matters not what you are working on, PUBLISH YOUR WORK.

Louis L'Amour

Louis L’Amour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Second, even if you have not published anything before today, tomorrow make sure you include a clause in your will stating who receives your copyrights when you die (for me that person is my daughter). You can leave your copyrights to anyone, even a charity if you wish. Louis L’Amour left his copyrights to his son and daughter; to this day (25 years after his death) new printings of Louis’ work continue to be released under their direction and benefit. You can take care of those you love, for the next 50 years.

Though it is a pretty safe bet your work will be no more popular tomorrow than it is today, you cannot make that claim for ten years from now, next year, or even next month. The single most important influence to your financial success is the taste of the public. Yes, I know (please no comments refuting that last statement) the quality of your work is important, and you should never be satisfied with your work. You should always strive to make your next piece better than your last. However, if you go to you will see many bestsellers replete with editing errors.

There comes a point of diminishing returns, sure you could rewrite again, but your work is as good as it will ever be. Spending another month or another year, you may find a few more places to rewrite a few words. At that point, you are merely finding excuses not to publish. Except for a few people (who have as their main vocation writing bad comments and reviews), readers do not expect perfection, they expect good.

So, get those poems together and publish them (poke poke Mon Chere). Stop rewriting (for another 100 times) that book of fiction or non-fiction, and publish. PUBLISH.

While you are at it, checkout Vince’s last book when it comes out. If you have not read any of his work, download one of his books today or buy a print copy. Vince is one of us, a writer, he is a coworker of ours. When you get your first (or next) Vince Flynn novel you will not only be buying a good read, but you will be helping your coworker take care those he loved, for the next 50 years … and that ain’t too bad.

Thank you Vince. Thank you for showing us, for showing me, an unselfish example of perseverance and strength.

Vince’s website is


Filed under books, Cup-O-Joe, family, New, notes, writing

An Inspiration For All Of Us “Old Guys” On Father’s Day

picture of 1882 Rutgers College Football team

picture of 1882 Rutgers College Football team (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we are going to talk about another Southerner. Like most of us, he started as just another kid in his local high school. But, Jerry worked hard 365 days of the year, he is an example of what all of us can become with hard work and perseverance. So, get a refill of your favorite Sunday morning beverage and let’s meet Jerry.

Jerry was born and raised in Mississippi. His dad was a brick mason and Jerry developed his fast hands working for his dad. According to a book, written about Jerry by Michael Silver, Jerry ran from his principal after being tracked down for skipping school. The principal gave Jerry the choice of joining the football team or being punished for skipping school. Jerry joined the football team.

Ten years after joining the 49ers football team, a new rookie asked Jerry if he could workout with him during the off season. Most football players at that time did not workout year round. Talking with a reporter later about the workout this young rookie said he literally could not keep up with the “old man.” That hard work made it possible for Jerry to spend twenty years doing something he loved in a sport where most people have to retire after five to ten years. Jerry went twelve years before his first major injury. That injury ended a streak of 189 consecutive starts for Jerry in the NFL. A streak that is longer than the careers of the majority of NFL veterans.

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone who plays college football was a high school star football player. Everyone who plays pro football, was a star in college football. Jerry is a star among stars. He always worked hard on the basics, had a strong work ethic, and was dedicated to his team and teammates.

Jerry Rice signing autographs in 2006.

Jerry Rice signing autographs in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If Jerry would have had a five year or ten year career, he would have been a great player. But because of all the hard work he did, work that few people witnessed, he became the number two all-time greatest player on a list of the 100 greatest NFL players by Sporting News, in 1999. In 2010, he was named as the NFL’s greatest all-time player. He has more records than any NFL receiver does. He missed only 10 regular season games in 20 years, 7 of those in 1997 with his fist major injury. The first year he was eligible Jerry Rice was elected to the football Hall of Fame.

NFL legend Jerry Rice at CTIA Wireless in Las ...

NFL legend Jerry Rice at CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas (cropped from the original photograph) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state of Mississippi is often cited by the press for poverty and many other attributes that many states try to avoid, often being at the top of the bad lists and the bottom of the good lists. In life it does not matter where you start or what life gives you to work with. It matters what you do with it, and Jerry Rice became the greatest of the great, because of what he did with what he had. Because of the hard work Jerry put into his profession he kept himself healthy (avoiding more serious injuries), and became the very best in his profession. Jerry spent the last several years of his career going up against defensive backs young enough to be his sons, and he bested everyone of them. If Jerry Rice can start as a young kid from Mississippi skipping school, and become the greatest football player in history, what are you going to become the greatest at? Most people have advantages Jerry Rice did not have as a young kid. What’s holding you back?


That is not a good excuse.

Hey, I love you like family, but if Jerry can do it you can too. So, let’s get started. The world is waiting for you. And when you make it you are not the only one who benefits. Your success will help millions of people, people you will probably never have a chance to meet. So go do it, they deserve the chance just as much as you and they are waiting on you.

Me? I am going fishing with my daughter at Slate Run Park, like I do every Father’s Day. As usual, my daughter has been asking me about our annual pilgrimage since Mother’s Day.

I hope YOU have a great Father’s Day!


Sorry, I just could not leave for my fishin’ trip without saying one last thing. Jerry Rice and I are the same age, and boy did it feel great for this 44 year old man to watch that 44 year old man run circles around 22 and 24 year old pro athletes.

Thanks Jerry !

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Filed under family, history, New, thoughts

A Summer of Airships

A U.S. Navy airship, either USS Akron (ZRS-4) ...

A U.S. Navy airship, either USS Akron (ZRS-4) or USS Macon (ZRS-5), over Puget Sound, Washington (USA). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This summer, along with the normal mix of articles, I will being writing a series of articles on Airships. Airships have an “air” of romance and adventure, and have made appearances in many movies such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (where Indiana and his dad rode the Hindenburg). We will not be visiting movie sets, but we will have a chance to learn more about these glamorous airships.

N class blimp

N class blimp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among some of the airships we’ll discuss this summer are the Graf Zeppelin, sister ship to the Hindenburg. The Shenandoah, Macon, Akron, and L-8.

The U.S. Navy blimp L-8 over the aircraft carr...

The U.S. Navy blimp L-8 over the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) at the beginning of the “Doolittle Raid” in April 1942. Note the USAAF North American B-25 Mitchell bomber on Hornet´s deck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

L-8 is an interesting airship with a mysterious ending. Originally a commercial blimp built and operated by the Goodyear company. L-8 was taken over by the United States Navy during World War Two. The airship was assigned to perform anti-submarine patrols on the west coast of the United States and was stationed at Treasure Island in the center of San Francisco Bay.

August 16, 1942 was just another summer day in sunny California. The early morning fog left a covering of dew on the cloth skin of L-8, adding weight to the airship. Due to the extra weight the normal crew of three was cut to two, Machinists Mate Third Class James Hill was left behind.

Lt. Cody, the pilot, and Ensign Adams were both experience airship men. Ensign Adams had 20 years of experience with airships as an enlisted man before receiving his commission. The two men left Treasure Island  about six in the morning.

A little over an hour and a half later, Lt. Cody radioed in they had discovered an oil slick and were going to investigate. The men were never heard from again. Five hours after L-8 left Treasure Island, the blimp was spotted heading inland over a local beach. The blimp crashed in front of a house owned by volunteer firemen William Morris. Bill was the first man on the scene. When he arrived at the gondola to rescue the crew, he found the door tied open and no one onboard the airship. The mystery of what happened to the crew was never solved and one year later they were declared dead.

In the weeks to come I will tell you more about L-8 and a fleet of other airships.

An inside view of one of the massive blimp han...

An inside view of one of the massive blimp hangars at the former Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, CA. Source: USMCAS Tustin archives.The structures appear in the National Register of Historic Places as #NPS-#75000451. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh, and there are engineers and businessmen hard at work on a comeback for airships. Nothing like the Hindenburg, but there are many useful purposes for airships today.

The gondola of an airship.

The gondola of an airship. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Filed under Hindenburg, history, navy, ships

Where Success With People Begins and Ends.

Do Unto Others …”

By James R. Fisher, jr.

In my years as a corporate executive and then consultant, I’ve learned this: while technical systems change rapidly, the systems that govern our social behavior have evolved little in 2000 years. And we get we want out of life only by working with and through others.

To maintain that perspective in my life, I wrote down some rules that seem to flow from it. Here they are:

To have a friend, you must be a friend,

starting with yourself.

The greatest hunger a person has is to be needed.

Help create that feeling in others.

The greatest virtue is kindness.

You can’t love everyone, but you can be kind to everyone.

Don’t try to impress others.

Let them have the fun of impressing you.

Be enthusiastic.

Nothing of consequence was ever achieved

without enthusiasm.

Be positive.

Positive people attract others, while negative people repel.

You have greater impact on others

by the way you listen than by the way you talk.

Gossip cheapens the one who gossips

more than the one gossiped about.

Call a person by his or her name

and use it often in conversation.

Communicate cheerfulness.

Differences are bound to occur and can be resolved if

conflict is managed in a polite manner.

If you are given to making fun of someone,

be sure it is yourself.

Be genuinely interested in others.

Get them to talk about themselves.

A smile doesn’t cost anything and pays big dividends.

Not only does it make you feel good, but

it makes everyone else feel better too.

Be the first to say, “Hello! Good to see you.”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The golden rule is where it all begins and ends.


Filed under Cup-O-Joe, family, New, Southern, thoughts