Remembering a Lost Airship

The seabed wreck of the USS Macon airship, which crashed 75 years ago today off of Point Sur, Calif., 140 miles south of San Francisco, has been added to the National Register of Historical Places, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced.

The wreck of the 785 foot long Macon lies in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which NOAA administers. Paul Michel, the sanctuary's superintendent, said the National Register listing "highlights the importance of protecting the wreck site and its artifacts for further understanding our past."

The Macon represented truly advanced technology for the Navy in 1935. The mammoth dirigible was a flying aircraft carrier, toting around five Sparrowhawk scout biplanes housed in an internal hangar.

The Macon released and released and retrieved the scout planes from a trapeze-like device that hung from its belly.

The planes provided the <em>Macon</em> with what is known in today's parlance as over-the-horizon surveillance. So it's quite synchronistic that yesterday the Army kicked off a procurement for an advanced airship that will use all kind of high-tech gadgets and gizmos to perform the same kind of surveillance.

A truly back to the future moment.

View image of the Macon, courtesy of the Moffet Field Historical Society