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Friday, February 3, 2017

US NAVY BLIMP C-5 LOST AT ST.JOHN'S


On 14 May 1919, the C-5 departed Montauk Point in clear weather. It made good time, but encountered heavy fog near French Island of Saint Pierre, off the southern coast of Newfoundland where upon it became lost for several hours. It eventually regained its way, but the extended trip caused the crew to exhaust its food supply and wind and rain continuously buffeted the blimp. The C-5 again became lost, this time over the Island of Newfoundland itself, when its radio navigation equipment malfunctioned. The C-5's crew used its voice radio to contact the U.S. Navy cruiser Chicago, which was in St. John's, and the radio signal was used to guide the C-5 to the tracks of the Reid Newfoundland Railroad, which it followed to St. John's and a safe landing at 11 a.m. on 15 May. The commander of the blimp, Lieutenant Commander Coll, said it was the roughest trip he had ever experienced. Most of the exhausted crew left the landing site to eat and catch op on well earned sleep on board the Chicago docked in the nearby harbor. The few remaining men began to service the blimp's engines. In the meantime, a storm rolled in and additional cables were tied over the blimp in order to secure it A company of crewmen from the Chicago were brought in to help hold the lines. The wind intensified from 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) to 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), and the blimp began to break free from its additional cables. The blimp's engines couldn't be restarted because they were under maintenance, so Lieutenant Charles Little attempted to pull the emergency cord to open the gasbag and deflate the craft. The cord broke, and the C-5 began to lift off, tearing a few remaining cables that injured two people as they sprang loose. Little jumped from the rising blimp, spraining his ankle in the fall. The C-5 abandoned blimp was blown Eastward, out over the Atlantic Ocean. The destroyer USS Edwards was dispatched to catch the blimp, which continued to drift. Later news reports that the C-5 crashed into the Atlantic and was found by a passing British ship were false. The C-5 was never seen again.


The structure on the hills to the south is Cabot Tower used for many years to control shipping through the narrows entrance into the snug harbour of St John's by a complicated system of flags. The body of water in the background is Quida Vida Lake.

On the same day the C-5 broke loose from its moorings, the British government announced plans to send the airship R-34 on a transatlantic flight to Cape May, the C-5's home base. That airship successfully crossed the Atlantic, becoming the first aircraft to navigate that body of water from east to west nonstop.