South Weymouth NAS – February 13, 1960

South Weymouth Naval Air Station – February 13, 1960


     On the morning of February 13, 1960, the U.S. Navy blimp, ZPG-3W, reportedly the largest blimp in the world, was being towed by a tractor to its hangar at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station when a strong gust of wind lifted the rear of the blimp which caused the tow-tractor to flip on its side.  (The three man crew on the tractor were not injured.)  When the tractor flipped over the tow line broke and the blimp was driven by the wind into the door of the hangar which caused a large rip in the fabric, allowing 1.5 million cubic feet of helium gas to escape.  As the blimp began to settle, the lone crewman aboard had to scramble out of the gondola before it was buried under the weight of the deflating fabric. 

     The $12 million dollar blimp was reported to be a total loss.   

     The ZPG-3-W was 403 feet long, and 118 feet tall.   


     Boston Advertiser, “Biggest Blimp Ripped Open”, February 14, 1960

     Sunday News, (N.Y.), Biggest Blimp, $12 Million Job, Gone With The Wind”, February 14, 1960

     New York Daily News, “Huge Blimp Rips Skin, Deflates”, February 27, 1960


Waterville, Maine – September 2, 1908

Waterville, Maine – September 2, 1908

     On September 2, 1908, Charles O. Jones was giving an aerial exhibition of his dirigible balloon, the Boomerang,  at the Waterville, Mane, fair grounds, when a small fire erupted while the ship was just over five-hundred feet above the ground.  When Jones realized the danger he pulled an emergency cord to rapidly deflate the envelope.  As he did so the fabric ignited, causing the frame suspended underneath containing Jones and the motor to fall away and crash to the ground.  Jones died about ninety minutes later of his injuries. 

     The accident was witnessed by his wife and child.

     Charles Jones was an intrepid early aeronaut.  Just a few weeks earlier on July 19, he and the Boomerang were almost carried out to sea over Long Island Sound. 

     On the afternoon of July 23, 1908, he made an ascension with the Boomerang from the Palisades Amusement Park during a severe electrical storm saying he needed the experience.  After rising to 3,00 feet he became lost in the clouds.  When he descended below the clouds he found himself in driving rain which short-circuited the batteries of his airship.  The airship was pushed ahead by the strong winds over Hackensack, New Jersey, where he was able to land safely.

     On July 26, Jones once again took off from Palisades Amusement Park, but this time his airship crash-landed on the roof of a house about a quarter of a mile away  from its starting point after being damaged by trees and electrical wires during the take off.     


     New York Times, “Airship Caught By Storm”, July 24, 1908  

     New York Times, “Airship Wrecked, Lands On House”, July 27, 1908 

     Bangor Daily News, “Aeronaut’s Tragedy Shocked State In ’08” by Wayne Reilly, August 31, 2008

     Springvale Advocate, (Me.), “Horror At Waterville Fair”, September 4, 1908

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