THE DIRIGIBLE AKRON
TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 1933
WikipediA – USS Akron, ZRS-4, built by Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation,
Akron, Ohio in 1929 and launched 8 August 1931, was a U.S. Navy vessel , an aircraft
carrier which carried 5, Curtiss F9C 'Spearowhaw' fighter planes that could be launched
and recovered while she was in flight. The Akron was helium filled, overall length 785
feet. The USS Akron was destroyed in a thunderstorm by lightening off the New Jersey
coast, the morning of April 4, 1933, killing 73 of the 76 crew and passenger aboard.
The Franklin Pennsylvania News-Herald, Tuesday, April 4, 1933, reports the
dirigible Akron, flying at a altitude of 1000 feet or more about midnight, brilliantly illumined
by a mighty flash of lightning , dove downward to destruction , through a storm that ripped
her 'envelope' and hurled her against the Atlantic's waves with such force that she crumbled under the impact. The poor but vivid details were relayed over stormy waters off Barnegat
Light by ships searching for bodies and picked up three survivors .
The story of the last hours was told in a navy report of Lieut. Commander Herbert
Wiley, one of the three survivors. A four hour fight against wind, fog and rain continued
until the crash. “ Ship demolished upon impact. We saw men swimming away in lightning
Wiley's report; “Storm sighted 30 mile south of Philadelphia, 8:45 pm. Proceeded east &
northwest course, lightning to south, ground obscured by fog, ship in good static condition,
6000 pounds heavy. Off Jersey shore 10 pm, entirely surrounded by lightning.
Atmosphere not turbulent, ran east until 11 pm, then west at 12 midnight. Sighted light on
ground, change course to 180 degree. . 12:30 am ship descended rapidly from 1000 feet.
Dropped ballast, regained altitude in three minutes, Appear to be in center of storm, ship
tossed violently. Called all hands. Ship descended , stern downward. Dropped ballast,
controls carried away. Descent into water, demolished upon impact. Control car had
perfect discipline” .
Brooklyn Navy Yard: April 4, 1933: Destroyer Tucker brought three survivors and a body
to dock where four ambulances were waiting. The dead was Robert Copeland who died after
being picked up at sea. .
Wreckage parts are picked up on beach at Bethany and bodies off the coast are sighted but
stormy rough seas prevent Coast Guard going out for them.
Abstract: News Herald, Franklin, PA., & Wilmington Journal, April 2, 1933.
Harrison H. 06/17/18