Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Jacque Kelly, Rosie Miller
Expedition Date: February 1, 2020
We visited the Garst Museum in Greenville where they had a display on the tragic September 2, 1925 crash of the airship. The connection to Greenville is that the Shenandoah Commander Zach Lansdowne, who was killed in the crash at age 37, was from Greenville. The October 25, 1924 “Daily News Tribune” newspaper’s lead article and photos show that the Shenandoah flew over Greenville and Commander Lansdowne signaled to his mother. The display had a tribute to Landsdowne, dozens of photos of the airship, newspaper articles, crash photos and a piece of the crashed airship. Outside the museum I posed beside a memorial for the Commander.
The U.S. Navy built and operated airships for military purposes. They had enormous cruising range but even with the use of nonflammable helium, airships still had one fatal flaw. Their large size and slow speed made them difficult to control in thunderstorms. That is what happened in southeast Ohio where a massive storm tore it apart. Commander Zach Lansdowne and thirteen crew were killed when a large section crashed at Ava, Ohio. The Shenandoah’s normal duty was scouting the US coastline for potential invaders but the final mission was a publicity stunt…meant to show off the Navy’s abilities at a series of fairs. Part 2 of our investigation is to visit the crash site and museum at Ava, Ohio.