Ohio's Airship Disaster: The Story Of The Crash Of The Uss Shenandoah - Aaron J. Keirns What is it about these hulking technological dead-ends that so fascinates? The disasters? The technology? The naval connections? Who knows, but there is certainly something poignant learning about the dedication and loyalty that people had to these behemoths.

The Shenandoah was the first American dirigible. It was also the first to be filled with helium, based on the design of the captured German L-49 which had been forced down in a storm over France in 1917. It's design suffered from a rather serious defect. The control room was not built into the hull as with later constructions but hung down from struts at the front of the ship. It was all the men in the control car who were killed when the Shenandoah when down after being literally twisted in two by a squall line in Ohio.

Dr Eckener had successfully navigated the Graf Zeppelin and other early airships through thunderstorms, but I suspect he was unfamiliar with the classic Midwestern storm which can be of violent intensity. Be that as it may, the commander of the ship was ordered on a tour of Midwest state fairs to show off the pride of the Navy. Lansdowne was reluctant given the state of storms in early fall, but the chiefs were anxious not to miss any of the fairs.

Ironically, those who were in the bow which was twisted away from the rest of the ship, suffered a harrowing ride but all survived as the helium cells were undamaged and retained enough lift to keep them aloft until they could vent enough gas to crash land several miles away. Others in the stern section also survived. Had the control room been attached to the hull, chances are that most would have survived instead of falling to the earthy as the cab was ripped away from the hull structure.

This book is clearly a labor of love of the author who has done a remarkable job collecting many photographs and interesting tidbits of information. While not written at what most of us would consider an adult level, it nevertheless is a valuable addition to airship history.