Follow the Stories | Raleigh, North Carolina (2010)
1943 U.S. Naval Airship Service Group
Slideshow by Melissa Carlson | Posted 1.15.2010
Guest with items from his father's service
At the Raleigh ROADSHOW in June 2009, a guest named Frank brought in an impressive group of items from his father's service on U.S. Navy non-rigid airships during World War II, including his father's dog tags, flight log, and Navy press photographs.
U.S. Navy airship
These "lighter than air" aircraft, known as non-rigid airships or blimps, stayed aloft using balloons, called envelopes, filled with gas. They have no structural frame, which differentiates them from rigid airships like the Hindenburg. At a whopping 252 feet long, they could carry up to 12 crew members. Appraiser Gary M. Piattoni explained that airships like the one Frank's father flew on were integral to minesweeping, rescue, scouting, and photography efforts during World War II.
This flight log for Frank's father shows that, indeed, his missions included minesweeping and rescues.
Guest's father at work
This undated photo shows his father (right) and a fellow sailor making repairs to a ship. Piattoni told Frank that it was very unusual to have Navy promotional photos with a family member in them; snapshots were much more common souvenirs.
Airship over Wright Brothers National Memorial
They were the first to fly, but never like this. A Navy airship soars above the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Frank's father was stationed about 60 miles away in Weeksville, North Carolina.
A hangar like this one could house a dozen airships at one time.
When these aircraft took flight they were stronger than they appeared; only one was lost in action during the war.
Considering the completeness of the group, Piattoni estimated its value at $3,000 to $5,000. Frank said he intends to keep the items in his family.