NAVAIR

Navy airship gets new colors

The only manned U.S. Navy airship is introduced to the public during ceremonies at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (U.S. Navy photo by Doug Abbotts)

The only manned U.S. Navy airship is introduced to the public during ceremonies at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (U.S. Navy photo by Doug Abbotts)

Oct 28, 2011

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NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The U.S. Navy MZ-3A manned airship advanced flying laboratory has new markings and colors. The new colors celebrate the Centennial of Naval Aviation.

Historic Hangar One at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., was the setting where Navy officials re-dedicated the only airship currently in Navy active flying service this week. Lakehurst was the site where the Navy’s old lighter-than air-program operated from 1921 to 1962.

The MZ-3A is used as a testbed for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensors requiring a stable and vibration free testing environment. The Navy used the MZ-3A to help during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recovery operation from March, 2010 to July, 2010. The airship and crew operated out of Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores, Ala., transporting the U.S. Coast Guard investigating the waters over the Gulf of Mexico. Observers report excellent results when searching vast areas like the Gulf due to the slow travel speed of the airship.

“Airships also bring affordability to testing,” said Steve Huett, program manager for the MZ-3A. “You can operate an airship for 40 percent of the cost of fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters.”

The airship is assigned to Naval Research Laboratory Military Support Division Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1).

The Navy Airship Program is managed by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. Both organizations are at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Integrated Systems Solutions, Inc. is the contractor responsible for maintaining and operating the airship in many locations throughout the country.

The MZ-3A is 178 feet long, capable of flying up to 9,500 feet and cruises at 45 knots. The ship is fitted with two Lycoming engines and has space for one pilot and nine passengers.

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31 Comments, Please review our Feedback Guidelines.


Bill said

The Airship is an A-170, not A-150. I should know. I helped build it..


May 1, 2014 at 6:24:53 PM EDT

Paul said

This is a blimp, not a ridged airship like the Akron of old. It was manufactured in Hillsboro Oregon by American blimp corporation and I believe it is A-150 model. Good to hear it is still being maintained and flying.


March 2, 2014 at 8:57:33 PM EST

Cierra said

Was flying of Caroline County on Saturday at Noon! Very nice to see it so close, yet so far away!


November 5, 2013 at 4:13:33 PM EST

Daniel said

Seen today flying around Frederick, MD! Very cool sight to see!


September 22, 2013 at 5:47:15 PM EDT

bowser said

I saw one flying over my job a few month's ago. As a tear came to my eye I knew my grandfather (who has passed) was looking over me and smiling. He was one of the co-pilots who flew the "snowbird" for it's endurance flight. Anchor's away!


August 11, 2013 at 4:06:33 PM EDT

Tom Rodgers said

I saw it fly over my apartment building then fly over Dover AFB on 06Aug2013 at 11:04. It looked to be heading home to Lakehurst NAB.


August 7, 2013 at 3:06:21 AM EDT

Bob Shear said

Observed flying North up the Indian River West of Merritt Island, FL shortly after 12 noon, July 30' 2013.


July 30, 2013 at 12:44:23 PM EDT

Scott Stiepleman said

Saw the airship today flying over my home in Coconut Creek, Florida. It wad a beautiful sight to see!! Would love to get a ride on it!!


July 8, 2013 at 10:23:06 PM EDT

Maria Johnson said

Saw it flying over Goose Creek, SC today at 11:30 AM. What a pretty sight to see. I lost it in the clouds.


July 3, 2013 at 9:02:27 PM EDT

Anonymous said

It was flying over the small community of Cordesville SC around 11am (about 5 minutes.) Very cool for my kiddos to see.


July 3, 2013 at 11:04:56 AM EDT

Anonymous said

Just saw the airship in Lumberton, NC just after 3:00 PM. Was going south over I-95.


July 1, 2013 at 3:22:33 PM EDT

Liston L said

Saw this today flying over wade nc about 9:45


July 1, 2013 at 2:46:48 PM EDT

Paul Griffin said

Saw it flying north yesterday over Darien Georgia.


April 24, 2013 at 4:53:39 PM EDT

Anonymous said

Saw one about 2 tears ago off the beach in OC NJ. Can remember 1n the mid 50's,during an operation off of the E-coast,coming out of a cloudbank in a P2V-6M. There she was,oops. Great memory,Jake


February 18, 2013 at 1:40:10 PM EST

Shawn S. said

Saw this flying over Leesburg Florida the afternoon of 1/18/13. Pretty awesome.


January 28, 2013 at 2:27:51 PM EST

TiredofLies said

Saw this ship on 1/9/13 flying over Citrus county Florida mid morning, guess the Navy is using it to spy on Americans outside of Jersey now.


January 9, 2013 at 1:48:52 PM EST

Andrew Toner said

I saw this airship flying over the Jersey Coast 11/5/2012 as I was on the ground surveying the damage from Hurricane Sandy. I am sure they had a great observation platform to monitor the damage from the superstorm and track recovery efforts.


November 7, 2012 at 8:55:35 PM EST

Newell A. Leese, Jr. said

Just got a great view of this airship flying over York,PA about 1200 hrs. 10/11/12 Nice to see the Navy around town. Makes an ex-navy feel good!


October 11, 2012 at 12:45:39 PM EDT

Ken said

Anchors Away there it is fly Navy proud over northeast Maryland, Aberdeen, Edgewood area today at around 16:00 hours. Very Good looking airship serving its country as only the Best navy in the world can do. I took a few pictures of it to remember why I join the navy yrs ago, flying so proud as every navy ship does when underway on a mission. Hope to see it again sometime & would love to take a ride on her. Marked this 25 spring like day in the month of September during the Lords year of 2012.


September 25, 2012 at 7:37:45 PM EDT

BJ said

Pretty cool. I've seen this twice now in 2012. Once going up the coast in OCNJ in the spring and then in the summer going north over the Delaware River north of Trenton, NJ. Had no idea I was seeing the same airship....


September 22, 2012 at 9:37:17 PM EDT

Nicole Pearce said

It just passed over Easton, MD. These ships amaze me!


September 20, 2012 at 12:26:32 PM EDT

eddiott said

glad to see a rigid airship still exsists, but i have an idea, rebuild the uss los angeles and put vectoring engines on here and then you'll have a platform to celebrate the ships 100 anniversey of coming to america in 1927, remember that was the 1st craft to cross the atlantic by air, with dr echner onboard


September 18, 2012 at 4:59:20 PM EDT

A. L. S. said

I just saw it pass over the ocean at Barnegat Light, New Jersey!


July 3, 2012 at 4:42:54 PM EDT

Anonymous said

Just passed overhead, Ocean Beach NJ


June 11, 2012 at 11:58:37 AM EDT

Rick E said

Saw it over the middle Barnegat Bay on 6/8 AM. Impressed as go how quite the engines were.


June 9, 2012 at 6:31:29 PM EDT

John said

Along the coast in Atlantic City today.


June 8, 2012 at 9:52:11 PM EDT

Joseph Sinagoga said

Saw it over Long Beach Island today. It sort of did a loop over the island. Just an awesome sight. Yay for Naval Avation! Joseph Sinagoga


June 8, 2012 at 1:22:21 PM EDT

Anonymous said

Over the Delaware in Delanco NJ today


June 6, 2012 at 6:51:56 PM EDT

Daniel Ricketts said

I also saw the airship over Millville, NJ on the same day last month, but was strange to me is how erratically it was flying, with abrupt dips from time to time. I grew up in Tacoma, WA where we saw scores of airships over the years, and I NEVER saw one flying so up and down as that day.


May 1, 2012 at 8:19:19 PM EDT

Anonymous said

I saw it flying north, seaward of Ocean City,NJ, this morning. Which is the same town from where I first saw a blimp seventy years ago. Once you have seen one, you will never forget how grand they are. It was wonderful to see one again.


April 19, 2012 at 2:02:15 PM EDT

Rae Ann Gallegos said

Very impressive piece of machinery.


November 2, 2011 at 12:57:36 PM EDT


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