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Admission Info:
Member Price: $15.00 Non-Member Price: $18.00

Contact: or the Museum at (619) 435-7242

Dates & Times:
Dec. 13, 2019, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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CHA Wine & Lecture: The Short and Perilous Career of U.S. Naval Airships

Presented by Coronado Historical Association

Dec. 13, 2019, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Coronado Historical Association 1100 Orange Avenue Coronado, CA 92118


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Maybe you caught an article in History Matters, “Airship Shenandoah’s Perilous Past Touches North Island.” The 680-foot Zeppelin completed her first transcontinental flight at North Island in October 1924. The article caught the attention of Coronado resident, Mary Ann Thomas of Olive Street. Turns out, her father, Captain Frank Robert McCrary, was the first naval lighter-than-air (LTA) pilot, and Shenandoah’s first commanding officer. This is history noteworthy of our attention. Rigid airships, at the time, could fly higher than an airplane, and the U.S. Navy was in hot pursuit of a bold airship program to assist its floating fleet. From 1921 to 1935 five lighter-than-air reconnaissance vessels sailed the skies then suffered a catastrophic structural failure or were scrapped. Yet, in their heyday, these flying monsters excited people across the country, including two visits of USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) to North Island in 1924. We'll meet Coronado resident and daughter of Shenandoah's first commanding officer, Captain Frank R. McCrary. What went so terribly wrong? We'll take a look at these sky giants and their 'sheds' through photographs and historical text, and recall North Island's dashed hopes of becoming the West Coast airship terminal. Join us for a night of wine, cheese, and history as CHA presents a Wine & Lecture on Navy Airships and their short-lived history, presented by speaker Karen Scanlon. Reception begins at 5:30, lecture at 6.

Karen Scanlon is a freelance author, historian, and educator who writes extensively on the maritime history of San Diego, particularly of Point Loma Lighthouses and the explosion aboard USS Bennington. In other directions are her published works in children’s curriculum, and stories about eager-to-know people. She is a volunteer at Cabrillo National Monument and works with her twin sister, Kim, tending the Fresnel lenses in its collection. The two co-authored a book titled Lighthouses of San Diego. Karen is a contributing member of La Playa Trail Association and the proud recipient of The Martha Washington Medal awarded by the Sons of the American Revolution for her work commemorating San Diego’s naval disaster.

Karen Scanlon