Caldwell, OH Airship SHENANDOAH Disaster, Sept 1925 - Falls Among Hills


Fourteen men lost their lives and two were injured when the huge naval dirigible, the Shenandoah, crashed to the earth 25 miles southeast of Zanesville, Thursday.
The great bag fell in three masses of twisted and broken wreckage. An area of nine miles intervened between the point of descent of the first and last sections.
The bow section carrying seven men and Lieutenant Commander C. E. Rosendahl, was maneuvered safely to land without loss of life in its forward cabin.

13 Dashed to Death When Cabin Breaks From Moorings
Thirteen were dashed to death as the control cabin broke from its mooring and fell 3,000 feet onto a rocky hill. The cabin was a mass of tangled wreckage.

The body of one victim, caught in the sharp metal, was cut almost in half. Lieutenant Commander Zachary Lansdowns, flight chief, died as the cabin fell, his body horribly mutilated.

For 24 hours the huge dirigible had fought a stern gale and seemed to have won. [Illegible] harlsingers [sic] of dawn betokened the coming of sunshine and fair weather as the ship nose over Ava, O.

Then an air current, and the fragile struts of the great skeleton gave way. The bag buckled in the middle and the stern section shot toward the ground.

It was then that the main cabin broke away and fell. The forward power plant also left its moorings a few seconds before the doomed bag crashed against the wooded hillside.

Saving Lives of Seven in Bow Section Like Tale From Fiction
The descent of the bow section entailed a feat of aerial maneuvering that reads like fiction. Commander Rosendahl stood by the water tanks, releasing water ballast in synchronization with the movements of two of his men at the gas valves.
Once they crashed to ground.

“I wanted to jump then,” Rosendahl admitted, “but I had the men with me. I couldn’t. Thank God I didn’t.”

The broken bit of bag, moving like a free balloon, leaped back into the air, descended again and then rose again before Rosendahl bright it down three miles from Caldwell and nine miles from the other sections.

Tells of Crash
“It was so sudden – such a crash and binding flash”, Commander Rosendahl said, “I was dazed, but when I found there were others there with me, I felt better, I at least felt like a fight – and here we are.”

Rosendahl was quietly shaving as he made the statement. The news of the others deaths had reached him. He made no comment other than to shake his head slowly and rub his eyes.

The bodies of the 14 dead were taken, under Rosendahl’s direction, to the C. A. Dye undertaking company morgue at Belle Center. For hours a constant string of improvised ambulances carried the dead to the rough wooden building pressed into service for the emergency.

The main section of the ship carrying 26 survivors, landed with a crash which sent several of the crew diving through the outer covering to the ground. A middle section of some 15 or 20 feet settled down in pieces over the countryside.

The Time Recorder, Zanesville, OH 4 Sept 1925