Admiral Moffett

I’ve been away for about a month now* finally spending time in the Bay Area again for the first time in three years. Before I left though I did scan a bunch of stuff to write about if I felt like writing on my vacation. For the most part I haven’t felt the urge but this one card seems appropriate.

*Observant readers (optimistically using the plural here I know) may have noticed that posts have dried up a little.

The 1934 National Chicle Skybirds set is one I’ve admired for a long time. The artwork is great and early aviation is kind of wonderful to read about. At the same time the set itself is a tough one to work and I’m incapable of buying singles just to have singles. I need a hook of some sort.

In this case, with no Stanford guys in the set, I found my hook in the Admiral William Moffett card. Moffett is an interesting guy, not a pilot or flyer himself but the leader of the development of US Naval Aviation in the post-WW1 period. For my purposes though he’s both the namesake of Moffett Field and the proponent of the project that resulted in Hangar One.

I grew up under the Moffett flight path. I got to hear and watch P3-Orions* most days and see the Blue Angels roar overhead for a week each summer. It was just normal to see and hear planes at very low altitudes turning overhead in their approach to the base.

*I wish there were a P3 card in the Power for Peace set.

Getting a card of the man who is credited of the creation of the base is the perfect hook, especially since it was named after him after his death. Those are very much key childhood memories (even though I’ve never actually been on the base) and I should probably grab an old postcard to go with the Sky Birds card.

It goes beyond just the base though. Moffett’s involvement in dirigibles represents something that continues to fascinate me. I knew better than to exalt in the blatant pro-war nature of stuff like the Blue Angels and having a large Naval Air Station nearby as a potential target during the Cold War was a little unnerving. Lighter than air aviation though is a complete alternate history which represents a path not taken in both aviation and combat.

When I was a kid the Goodyear Blimp was a novelty that showed up at sporting events for aerial shots and advertising. The idea of those being actual functional aircraft that people used to travel is the kind of thing which ignites my imagination.

I remember looking at old books about the Macon (and Akron) and reading about how they were used. Hanger One is an unforgettable sight from the freeway yet I can’t even fathom how big it actually is. I can’t help thinking about how different air travel could’ve been had things broken differently and I love seeing movies where this kind of thing is explored.

In some ways it makes perfect sense that I now live down the road from Lakehurst. While it doesn’t make sense to visit Moffett until Hanger One is restored I should look into scheduling a visit to Lakehurst and seeing its Hangar One as the East coast equivalent.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

2 thoughts on “Admiral Moffett”

  1. Very cool card. I remember going to several Moffitt Field Air Shows during the 80’s… and the Blue Angels were the highlight every single time. One of my former students and his dad just reached out to me over the summer about playing a round of golf at their course… but my schedule this summer was a little hectic so I didn’t make it. It would have been my first time back in years.

  2. As someone who collects things pertaining to dirigibles/airships, I too often find myself wondering what if? It’s kind of hard not to.

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