Caldwell, OH Airship SHENANDOAH Disaster, Sept 1925 - Shenandoah Wrecked


Shenandoah wrecked in Ohio storm; breaks in three and falls 7,000 feet; 14 dead, including the commander, 2 hurt

CALDWELL, Ohio. Sept. 3 — The Navy dirigible Shenandoah, whose silver beauty has been seen over many American cities, was ripped apart by a thunder squall near this town (thirty-five miles north of Marietta) at 5:30 o'clock this morning and fell, a broken and shattered thing, into the fields below. Fourteen, officers and men, including her Captain, Lieut. Commander Zachary Lansdowne, were killed and two seriously injured. There were twenty-seven survivors. The ship, broke into three sections when it was hit by a squall blowing nearly seventy-miles-an-hour wind so severe it rocked houses. The gale forced it upward from 3.000 to 7,000 feet, where it began to break apart.

The first crash broke the great ship in two almost at the point where the control cabin was swung, in which Commander Lansdowne and his men were working desperately to conquer the storm.

The cabin was torn from its fastenings and dropped to earth like a stone. Every man in it was killed, their bodies being found scattered in the garden of a farm or cooped in the wreckage, where they were terribly torn and cut.

Escape of Part of the Crew

The main after-portion of the ship, carrying most of the officers and men, floated away, while those inside released helium and fought with every bit of ingenuity they possessed to control it. Fortunately its drop to the ground was checked somewhat by the amount of gas remaining in the uninjured bags, and although it landed with a crash only one man was killed. The smaller midsection dropped rapidly, and those in it were badly shaken up and one of them injured. Those in the nose of the great ship were saved as if by a miracle, for the gas bags in their section did not rip, and the torn, unwieldy remnant of what had been before a graceful ship of the air drifted wildly before the wind. The men inside clambered desperately up girders, clung to twisted bits of metal and ropes as they swung through the darkness. They heard their unfortunate companions in the control compartment strike the earth with a great crash and the rest of their journey was a nightmare of fear of what lay before them.