USS Macon Explored 71 Years After Crash
Sep. 27 - KGO (KGO) -- Researchers in Monterey with the skills of archeologists and historians are examining the remains of the USS Macon, a blimp that went down seven decades ago. They're getting remarkable pictures and very special insight.
Seventy-one years ago the USS Macon was flying high. She was the nation's largest military airship, capable of carrying five sparrow-hawk bi-planes inside her hull. Home was Moffett Field. The Macon was heading there from war games in the Channel Islands when stormy weather took her down over Point Sur. There were 83 people on board. Two died in the crash. The date: February 12, 1935.
Robert Schwemmer: "There's a generation that witnessed this airship flying around the nation casting a shadow that was the size of the Titanic."
Now researchers are determined a new generation will know the Macon's place in history. The wreckage was first discovered in 1990, but last week NOAA teamed up with National Marine Sanctuary Program and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to explore the Macon as never before. The five-day mission deployed a remotely operated vehicle named Tiburon.
Chris Grech: "Tiburon is a modern rover with high definition improved lighting so we were able to bring back much better images than we were in 1990."
The images are from two debris fields, covering 250 meters 1,500 feet below the ocean's surface.
Bruse Terrell: "We find that the Macon itself collapsed on itself. There are a lot of aluminum girders lying scattered. We find five of the Maybach engines."
There were eight of those German engines in all and four sparrow-hawks. Two have been positively identified and are amazingly preserved. Many people want to know if any part of the Macon wreckage will be salvaged and brought back up to the surface.
That decision rests with the Navy. For now, the Macon's artifacts will remain in their secret location -- too fragile and too expensive to retrieve. Instead, researchers will use thousands of images to create a mosaic giving the Macon new life.
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