Last weekend we took a tour with the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Most famously, this is where the Hindenburg crashed in 1937 and that’s where the tour began.
What we didn’t expect was the shear amount of historical interest the rest of the base had and how fascinating it all was. Everyone in our group of five agreed that this was one of the best tours we’ve ever been on. It takes some early preparation and not everyone can go on the tour. But, if you’re a U.S. citizen and apply a few weeks in advance, you can take the tour, too. And, you definitely should!
The tour meets at the Cathedral of the Air outside the base. We got a history of the Cathedral which once held services in a variety of religions for the military men and women at the base. Now that most of the research and training at the base is done by contractors, the Cathedral is only available for military occasions but it’s a beautiful space. There are stained glass windows dedicated to different types of flight which are particularly interesting given the history of the base.
From the Cathedral, we were credentialed and the caravaned over to the base. Our first stop was the Hindenburg crash site where tour guide Don Adams gave us a minute by minute talk describing the weather conditions, ground crew observations and airship maneuvers that led up to the crash.
We could practically see it flying in the air, Don was such a good speaker. A plaque and outline of the wreckage now covers the area where the doomed ship went down.
From the crash site, we moved to the Navy Lakehurst Heritage Center inside Hangar Number One where the dirigibles were once housed.
Inside, there is a gift shop, many rooms of military memorabilia and a working model of an aircraft carrier!
The gift shop had all the hats, shirts and other souveniers you’d ever want about the base. More importantly, though, this is where the most information about all the lighter-than-air ships the Navy ever had is housed. We got a very thorough speech about the entire history of dirigibles here.
After that we moved on to the Ready Room where the entire history of Navy Lakehurst is spread out for you to browse. Just these rooms alone would have made a great trip.
A lot of the items are personal donations from members who served here. Much of it is very moving.
The P.O.W. room is particularly moving.
The final stop was way up top in the hangar. We got to walk the deck of the CALASSES which is a replica of an aircraft carrier. Servicemembers come here to train on helping airplanes land and take off from a carrier.
The equipment for the slingshots and nets that help aircraft land and take off is all made here in Lakehurst so all the training is done here, too.
This was a tour with so much information that I wouldn’t mind taking it again just to learn more. It’s free to the public but you do have to be a citizen and pass a security check since this is an active military base. It’s totally worth it, though.
Check out all the pictures from our visit to Lakehurst and the Joint Base McGuire-Dix:
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