Tag Archives: Ohio

USS Shenandoah ZR-1, The First American Made Rigid Airship

USS Shenandoah

USS Shenandoah (Photo credit: San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives)

The USS Shenandoah ZR-1 was an amazing airship, for many reasons. First, the Shenandoah was the first rigid airship built by the United States (being the first had many implications throughout the short life of the Shenandoah). ZR-1, built in 1922-23, was 680 feet long, almost 79 feet wide and 93 feet high, speed of 69 miles an hour and a range of 5,000 statute (land) miles. It was quite literally as large as or larger than many ocean-going ships of its day and) today. All four of the United State built airships were built at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst (this is where the Hindenburg disaster happened).

USS Shenandoah (ZR-1), United States Navy rigi...

USS Shenandoah (ZR-1), United States Navy rigid airship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The design (as all non-German built airships were) was based on the design of the German airships of World War 1, in this case, German bomber L-49 built in 1917. Though a fast climber, the Germans found the design lacking and made improvements in later designs. The Shenandoah was also the first rigid airship to use the safe helium, rather than the volatile hydrogen for its lift gas. Helium at the time was expensive, $55 per thousand cubic feet (more than $11,000 to fully inflate ZR-1), in 1923 dollars.

Due to this high cost helium was considered too expensive to vent to the atmosphere to keep the airship at neutral buoyancy. An ingenious design to capture condensation from the engine exhaust compensated for consumed fuel. Then, the airships vents were sealed making them inoperable, this would have disastrous consequences only one year later.

ZR-1's bow following the January storm.

ZR-1’s bow following the January storm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shenandoah flew for the first time on 4 September 1923, and was officially commissioned into the United States Navy on 10 October 1923. The airship passed builder’s trials with flying colors (no pun intended). To celebrate Navy Day, on 27 October the Shenandoah flew down the Shenandoah Valley and returned to Lakehurst that night by way of Washington DC and Baltimore, where search lights illuminated the giant airships for crowds in both cities.

Admiral Moffett had big plans for naval airships and had the full backing of President Coolidge. In January 1924, the upper tailfin of the Shenandoah was damaged when a gale ripped the airship from its mooring mast, also damaging the nose of the airship.

Though the year got off to a bad start, Shenandoah made many milestones. In July the oiler Patoka was converted to the navy’s first airship tender. On 8 August, the Shenandoah moored to the Patoka for the first time. Then the airship flew across the country to test mooring masts in California and Washington State, this was the first flight of a rigid airship across the North American continent.

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-00828, Lakehurst, Luftsc...

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-00828, Lakehurst, Luftschiffe ZR-3 und ZR-1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first six months of 1925, the Shenandoah went through maintenance and ground testing. In July and August, the airship completed fleet exercises with the Atlantic Fleet and tests with the Patoka (it was towed while moored to the Patoka).

On 2 September, the Shenandoah left Lakehurst for a good will tour of the Midwest. Commander Lansdowne, the commanding officer, wanted this flight postponed due to weather. However, the navy was determined for the trip to go on. On the morning of the third the Shenandoah was near Caldwell, Ohio when it was caught in a violent updraft in a storm. With the air vents sealed the crew could not vent the helium as it rapidly expanded with the rapidly climbing airship. Fourteen men died including Commander Lansdowne. Twenty-nine of the Shenandoah’s crew floated down in the three sections of the destroyed airship onto farmlands of southeastern Ohio. All three of the crash sites are visible though one is on private land and closed to the public. Colonel Billy Mitchell criticized Army and Navy leadership for putting publicity above safety and was court-martialed for insubordination, ending his career.

USS Shenandoah moored to the USS Patoka (AO-9).

USS Shenandoah moored to the USS Patoka (AO-9). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many changes were made after the loss of the Shenandoah was would be after the loss of the USS Thresher 38 years later. The gondola was made a part of the airship keel instead of hanging from the airship on cables, the hulls were strengthened, and engine power was increased; the one improvement that may have saved the Shenandoah was the increased attention paid to weather forecasting.

There are plaques at the three crash sites near Ava, Ohio commemorating the Shenandoah. Bryan and Theresa Rayner share their private collection at the USS Shenandoah Museum, call ahead to see when the museum will be open (740-732-2624). Click on this web address to read about the Rayner’s museum, get directions, and learn more about the Shenandoah disaster.

Fabric from the airship USS Shenandoah, recove...

Fabric from the airship USS Shenandoah, recovered from the crash site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The front section of the wreck of the USS Shen...

The front section of the wreck of the USS Shenandoah, from gelatin silver print by R.S. Clements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The bow section of Shenandoah after the crash

The bow section of Shenandoah after the crash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The aft section of the wrecked U.S. Navy airsh...

The aft section of the wrecked U.S. Navy airship USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) near Cladwell, Ohio (USA), in September 1925. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I have been planning this article for some time, and originally intended to include photographs from my trip to Ava, Ohio. Due to a rather interesting if unpredictable (to me at least) summer I have not been able to make the trip to Ava. However, when I do I will update this article with photographs and a report on the USS Shenandoah Museum. My next airship article will be the last in this summer’s airship series. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. I find these elegant ladies of the sky to be truly marvelous, and find it odd that they are not utilized in our modern times when their fuel efficiency, cargo capacity, and speed are so needed. But, we will leave that part of my argument for the end of the last article in the series.


Take care and have a blessed weekend.

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November 6, 2012

Elizabeth did not have school today (they have been off for three days, I still haven’t figured out why), so I had her with me this morning, and I took her to vote with me. I thought it would be a quick in-and-out, like the old days when almost no one voted. In Ohio we have been voting for a month, and the early voting lines this past weekend here in Columbus were 40 minutes long. Took us an hour … guess I blew that one.

The poll worker handling my vote told me he expects our precinct turn-out to be 75-80%, I have never seen that before. Then on the radio going back home they were reporting record level turn-outs around the state. That must be good for someone, but I don’t know who.

Anyway, back to the reason for our conversation today. My next-ex-wife woke me up to tell me not to teach Elizabeth one party or the other because Marine and I don’t vote the same way (she votes a straight party ticket). Well … I am not surprised she said that, if she really knew me she would know I never vote ANY party ticket (but then again if she really knew me we would probably not be getting a divorce).

So, anyway I decided to explain everything to Elizabeth like I have explained it to first time voters before. I explained that voting is a responsibility, not a right (my grandfather hounded that into me, and he never did tell me who he voted for). Then I explained how I found information about the issues and the candidates, and followed that up with quite a bit more information, remember I had almost an hour to kill. I answered her questions (except when she asked who I was voting for). Then we voted.

When we got back to the car I asked Elizabeth, “So, what did you learn about voting Sweetheart?” She said, “It’s not the party that is important, it is the people, and I am writing that down.”

And she is only seven … right on, you just made daddy proud.

So … who did I vote for? Well … I voted for … some D’s, some R’s, and a few that had other letters after their names (2 others to be exact). Hey, I always told ya’ll here on this page I do not take sides on politics or religion.

Now, don’t forget to vote and have a great day!


Voting (Photo credit: League of Women Voters of California)

Flag of the city of Columbus, Ohio, USA. Self-...

Flag of the city of Columbus, Ohio, USA. Self-drawn, based upon Image:Columbus city seal n6168.svg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus where the Ohio...

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus where the Ohio Senate meets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not taking sides one way or the other on the links to articles below. I put these up only as a sample of what is out there already and we still have 5 hours of voting to go. The articles below are the “related articles” recommended by my web host. Looks like it is going to be a long day (think I turn the radio off … I already quit watching TV).


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

A Change of Plans

I had my article for this week finished last weekend (I felt pretty good about that). Then I heard something on the radio that changed my plans. More than 2,000,000 (that’s two million (geez)) families in Ohio have had to turn to a food bank so far this year just to feed their families. These are my neighbors, co-workers, the people I see on the street, and the guy that cut me off on I-270 yesterday. That is too many. So, I decided to share something I do when I have my daughter on the weekend.

Now a cook I am not and this is not a cooking blog, one thing my daughter’s mother and I agree on. But, I think it is important for all of us to help each other. No matter how easy or rough your life may be there is always someone you can help. Let’s face it if I can cook this and have it taste good, anyone can. Don’t just use it when money is tight though, like I said it tastes good and is quick to prepare.

This is easy, simple, and inexpensive; you can feed a family of four a good, hot meal for less than $4. This is also easy to adjust if you are feeding more than four people. All you need are three ingredients, a dish, and about 15 to 20 minutes.


Instant Mashed Potatoes

Instant Mashed Potatoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 package of single serving instant mashed potatoes ( $1.00 at Kroger’s).

1 can of gravy ($1.00 on sale at Kroger’s).


Biscuits (Photo credit: tiexano)

1 can of womp biscuits ($1.50 on sale at Kroger). You know womp biscuits, they come in a can, you rip the paper off the tube and womp them against the counter to open them. Usually the can says to bake them for about 15 minutes.

Now we’re cookin’:

Pre-heat your oven to the temperature on the can of biscuits. Put the instant mashed potatoes in the dish, add hot water as per directions on the package. Next you pour the can of gravy on top of the mashed potatoes. Last you womp the biscuits open and place them on the gravy covering the dish. Stick in the oven for the amount of time suggested on the biscuit tube (usually about 15 minutes). When the biscuits get a light brown … you’re done.

The great thing about this is that you can add other things YOU like, or increase the amount of the three ingredients if you are having more than four people for dinner. I like to cook a little hamburger (breakup the patty into small pieces) and add that in with the gravy.

If you buy the big box of instant potatoes and make your own gravy you can save even more money, AND it is hot and tastes pretty good.


Omelette (Photo credit: HatM)

Here is another recipe a reader gave me, I haven’t tried this yet (but I will).  Do you like omelets, but don’t eat fried food anymore? Then this is for you. Get out your pot and get the water boiling. Take a freezer bag crack open two raw eggs and put them in the bag. Then you add all of the other ingredients you like in your omelet, and close the bag. Then, when the water is boiling, you drop the freezer bag into the boiling water. When it is done you open the bag and out comes your omelet. No mess in the pan, and if you like to re-use you plastic bags you can use the boiling water to clean out the bag.

If you have a recipe you would like to share enter it here as a comment.

Most of us are having a tough time now. But by working together and helping each other we will come back stronger than we were before.

Take care and have a great week.


Filed under Cup-O-Joe, family, New