Made in the 1950s, “This is Lakehurst” explains the history of this famous air station. Lakehurst is the US Naval Air Force's station in Ocean County, New Jersey (:45). Commissioned in 1921, it is best known for being the base for airship training, development and operation (:54). It rests 75 miles south of New York and 50 miles east of Philadelphia (1:04). A facet of it's many varied missions is the Naval Air Technical Training Unit (1:13). In the phase nicknamed “flying the weather” students will learn and observe weather conditions encountered in flight and will stress the importance of low ceiling, visibility and turbulence (2:08). It will be especially relevant to students assigned to weather squadrons (2:27). The information collected will be reported to Navy weather centers for ship and air craft operations (2:43). In Parachute Rigger School, pupils learn the techniques of parachute rigging and packing (2:57). They will be proficient in operations and management of oxygen breathing equipment used in Naval Aircrafts as well as the care and use of floatation and survival gear (3:30). All of the preparations will be conducted to complete a test in packing and then using their own parachute in a free fall jump (4:06). Consisting of Air Ship Squadron 3 and Helicopter Squadron 2, is the Fleet Air Detachment (4:24). They provide helicopter support for the Atlantic Fleet and are present in Korea evacuating the wounded, among other missions (4:36). Squadron 3 and Naval Air ships play a vital role in the discovery and destruction of enemy submarines (6:03). In WW2, blimps escorted a total of 89,000 ships and completed some 55,000 flights (6:52). Previously, in pilot school recruits for the Lighter Than Air operations had come from surface ships and submarines (8:16), yet to cut training time from 8 months to 4, already qualified airplane pilots were used (8:34). Free balloon flights prepared pilots for occasions when they may be faced with a dead engine (8:47). The majority of training is conducted in the Fleet Type K airship (9:47) which is 250 feet long and 70 feet wide (10:49). The larger “M” Type has remained in flight for over 170 hours (11:16). The largest is the Nan type (11:29). Operation and maintenance checks are required every 30, 60, 90 and 120 hours and at the end of 24 months will under go a thorough reconditioning (11:52). Here the envelope is completely deflated, and car is striped to its skeleton while technitions perform various checks and repairs (12:19). It will require 225,000 man hours and will then have to be reconstructed (12:50). After the Hindenburg burning in 1937, only inflammable helium is used to fill envelopes (13:26). As the film nears it's conclusion, the craft is nearly fully restored after eights days and thorough checks (14:43). It then returns to the skies and it's duty in the fleet (15:29).
Lakehurst Maxfield Field's history begins as a munitions-testing site for the Imperial Russian Army in 1916. It was then acquired by the United States Army as Camp Kendrick during World War I. The United States Navy purchased the property in 1921 for use as an airship station and renamed it Naval Air Station Lakehurst (NAS Lakehurst). The United States Navy's lighter-than-air program was conducted at Lakehurst from its inception through the 1930s. NAS Lakehurst was the center of airship development in the United States and housed three of the U.S. Navy's four rigid airships, (ZR-1) Shenandoah, (ZR-3) Los Angeles, and (ZRS-4) Akron. A number of the airship hangars built to berth these ships still survive. Hangar One, in which the Shenandoah was built, held the record for the largest "single room" in the world. According to an article in the January, 1925 issue of National Geographic Magazine, the airship hangar "could house three Woolworth Buildings lying side by side." The base also housed many Navy non-rigid airships, otherwise knowns as "blimps," in several squadrons before, during, and after World War II. This included the U.S. Navy's ZPG-3W (EZ-1C), which was deactivated in September 1962. In 2006, after a 44-year hiatus, the U.S. Navy resumed airship operations at Lakehurst with the MZ-3. The installation is probably most famous as the site of the LZ 129 Hindenburg disaster on 6 May 1937.
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