Lakehurst, NJ Navy Blimp Crashes Into Hangar, May 1959



Lakehurst, N. J. (AP) -- One crewman was killed early today when a silvery Navy blimp crashed into a hangar while attempting to land in a dense fog. Six crewmen were hospitalized and several others suffered minor injuries.
The wreckage was wedged in the hangar roof 150 feet above the ground.
Rescue workers clambered over the roof and removed the injured crewmen who had been trapped in the blimp's gondola.
Names of the dead man and the injured were withheld by the Navy pending notification of next of kin.
Wreck On Hangar.
The freak accident left the wreckage near the top of the 150-foot high hangar. The whole rooftop was shrouded by the limp folds of the blimp's great gas bag.
Rescuers had to reach the scene with aerial ladders and then tunnel beneath the deflated bag to reach the gondola car where the injured lay. It had rammed partially through the hangar roof and remained stuck fast.
The ZPG-2 blimp was returning from a routine 21-hour anti-submarine patrol early this morning. It was making a radar-controlled instrument approach through a swirling fog that blanketed out everything more than 100 feet away.
"They probably never saw the ground until after they hit," said Lt. Cmdr. HERMAN SPAHR, administrative off of Squadron 3 to which the craft was attached.
Picking Up Speed.
"The fog was so bad we radioed the blimp to gain altitude and try to come in again," said SPAHR. It was just picking up speed to 45 miles an hour when it hit.
The huge bag was ripped by the wreckage and its million cubic feet of helium wooshed out through its rent sides. The gas it non-inflammable and dispersed without herm into the fog.
Rescuers at first were unable to locate four officers and two men beneath the entangling sheets of the 343-foot long bag. They were found in the fore part of the metal alloy gondola.
AFter almost five hours one of the officers was pried loose. He was taken down a ladder strapped in a litter. The shirt of one of the litter bearers was smeared with blood.
The crew members in the rear of the car were unhurt and made their way down ladders to safety.
Talked To Officers.
SPAHR said rescuers had talked to the two trapped officers but were having difficulty freeing them.
SPAHR said the landing was a "routine instrument approach, the same kind the commercial airlines make."
There was a total of eight officers and 10 enlisted men aboard.

Salisbury Times Maryland 1959-05-14


Lakehurst Blimp Crash of May 1959

I was on the airship that landed just before this crash and was involved in the rescue. I think the Lt JG last name was James and I think he was buried in Arlington Nat'l Cemetery and may have been from Texas. I had one more flight and was discharged in June of 1959.(airship era ended in 1961) It's interesting since this happened over nearly sixty years ago, that people are still interested in the airship era. I would be interested in hearing from anyone in ZP-3 squadron in 1958-59.


your grandfather worked on my families cars, my dad Larry Branch served with him and visited him in Walter Reed hospital.
you can contact him at
He was a good guy and a great mechanic. his leg did squeak when he walked.

man injured

That man, AD1 Larry Cranston, was my grandfather, did you know him ?? I am just trying to find out as much as I can about him.


hello, you may ask your father if the crew of the airship ZPG-2 had boarded a member dell'eqipaggio named DAVID M. LOYD and what were his duties on board?
Thanks for the reply,

zpg crash 1959

My father, Robert Sr. was one of the surviving crew members of this crash. Now 73 years old and still lives in central NJ. Spoke at wreath laying in 2009 on 40th anniv. of accident.

Lakehurst Blimp Crash May 1959 ZP-3

Air ship crashed about 0530 in an extremely foggy condition. The lone fatality was sitting at a galley table in the aft section of the second deck. I believe he was the assistant personnel officer of ZP-3, a Lt. JG. He was to be discharged very shortly after the accident. He had volunteered to make the flight, as he was not a member of the flight crew. The most seriously injured crew member was in the position between the pilot and co-pilot on the flight deck. He lost a leg due to the crash. The cockpit was literaly bent back over the upper deck from the force of the crash. The rest of the injuries were not as serious. My knowledge of the crash was that our airship had departed
Lakehurst one hour befor the crashed airship. When we returned to Lakehurst our airship landed one hour earlier. Our crew had been
debriefed and had returned to our barracks shortly before 0600 hrs, when the emergency siren went off in the barracks.