Graf Zeppelin: Capt Tom, 'Nam, Utes and Lakehurst

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Ruislip Rustler
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Graf Zeppelin: Capt Tom, 'Nam, Utes and Lakehurst

Post by Ruislip Rustler »

The saying goes: "There are old pilots and bold pilots but there are no old, bold pilots..."

One of Phil's friends - now sadly no longer with us - was Tom Casagrande, a retired US Army pilot who certainly fits into the latter category...

Tom made it through 2 tours in Vietnam - the first starting in 1966 flying Hueys with C Company of the 227th AHB of the famous First Cavalry Division, flying from An Khe. During this tour he was shot down 3 times - twice, so Phil believes - on the same day!!

With that out of the way, Tom's second tour was flying RU-21Ds on covert surveillance missions over Thailand and Laos.

After the leaving the Army, Tom became a civilian test pilot, flying from Lakehurst on various tasks for the Department of Defense. Some people have a natural ability when it comes to flying, and that must have been the case with Tom as, over 20 years, he managed to accrue over 13,000 flying hours in more than 190 different types of aircraft! He was type rated in aircraft ranging from rotary wing, fixed wing and jets, as well as WWII fighters and bombers. He was awarded over 60 military medals and commendations throughout his career.

Sadly, he was killed in a flying accident in 2010. A foundation has been set up by his family to help veterans - https://www.lzpony.org/

Phil became great friends following the great "T-28 Across the Atlantic" flight, and Phil was a frequent visitor to the family home and Lakehurst, recording many unusual aircraft in his logbook, as I shall now reveal...

Vietnam

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Next post - RU-21s
Last edited by Ruislip Rustler on Fri 05 Jun 2020, 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Graf Zeppelin: Capt Tom, 'Nam, Utes and Lakehurst

Post by Ruislip Rustler »

Last edited by Ruislip Rustler on Sat 06 Jun 2020, 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Graf Zeppelin: Capt Tom, 'Nam, Utes and Lakehurst

Post by Blackbird »

What a fantastic and interesting thread. Many thanks for posting.

Andy

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Re: Graf Zeppelin: Capt Tom, 'Nam, Utes and Lakehurst

Post by hedgerowops1 »

Yes I've enjoyed looking at those
Chris

Ant.H
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Re: Graf Zeppelin: Capt Tom, 'Nam, Utes and Lakehurst

Post by Ant.H »

A very interesting selection, thanks for sharing these.

Very interesting airship gondola/engine test-bed thingy, do you happen to know the history and what became of it?

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Re: Graf Zeppelin: Capt Tom, 'Nam, Utes and Lakehurst

Post by Ruislip Rustler »

Ant.H wrote:
Sat 06 Jun 2020, 11:23 am
A very interesting selection, thanks for sharing these.

Very interesting airship gondola/engine test-bed thingy, do you happen to know the history and what became of it?
In my haste post the pictures, I've left the captions off -oops!! Should have mentioned, more info on Flickr - just click the images.

Here you go...

141561 - Goodyear ZPG-2 (Gondola only) - NAS Lakehurst - 22 June 1987

Control car in open storage at Lakehurst.

On Monday, March 4, 1957, Snow Bird, a ZPG-2 airship (an N-class blimp, sn 141561) took off from NAS South Weymouth (near Boston, Massachusetts) under the command of Commander Jack R. Hunt, along with Commander Ronald W. Hoel and Lieutenant Commander Robert S. Bowser as copilots.

At that time, the record for an unrefueled, continuous flight was 200 hours and 26 minutes. The distance record was held by the LZ-127, Graf Zeppelin, which had flown 11,233 km (6,980 mi) from Friedrichshafen to NAS Kasumigaura in Tokyo in 101 hours and 49 minutes during its round-the-world flight in August of 1929.

On March 15, 1957, after having flown 15,205 km (9,448 mi) in 264.2 hours (just over 10 days), the Snow Bird landed at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida. The flight had crossed the Atlantic, flown over the western shores of Africa and Europe and then crossed the Atlantic from east to west. In the process it set new records for unrefueled distance and flight time.

President Eisenhower presented Commander Hunt the Harmon International Trophy (Aeronaut category) which was awarded to him for this feat. He also received the Lighter-Than-Air Society’s Annual Achievement Award for 1957.
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Re: Graf Zeppelin: Capt Tom, 'Nam, Utes and Lakehurst

Post by Ant.H »

Thanks RR, interesting history. A bit of Googling suggests it's now in storage with the museum at Pensacola.

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