Lighter-than-Air flying with the Navy’s MZ-3
Airship pilot Marty Chandler discussing the flight over Patuxent MD in the lighter-than-airship MZ-3A with Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder (Chief of Naval Research) — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 3rd Class Abe McNatt
The U.S. Navy formerly flew a great many lighter-than-aircraft yet operates a single manned one today through a contractor. The MZ-3 is a blimp produced by the American Blimp Corp. and is generally used for research purposes whether testing sensor payloads or investigating other research and development endeavors. Power is provided by a pair of Lycoming engines (180 hp each) making for a maximum speed of just under 60 mph. The MZ-3 is 178 feet in length and can take 2500 pounds aloft 12 hours at a time.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (R) and airship pilot Marty Chandler converse while aloft in the MZ-3A – U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Spec Sam Shavers
Aboard the MZ-3A Senator Bill Nelson (L) prepares to fly over Fernandina Beach FL with ground assistance provided by what appear to be identical twins – U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 2nd Class Adam Henderson
Ground crew address airship MZ-3A with Sen. Bill Nelson aboard (wearing the red tie) in Fernandina Beach FL – U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker
MZ-3A, the U.S. Navy’s sole manned airship aloft and in flight over Patuxent River MD – U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams