Do You Know the Story of “the Ghost Blimp”?

The story of the two US Navy pilots, Lt. Cody and Ensign Adams, who disappeared into thin air. After 78 years, what happened to these men remains a mystery. There were various theories and suggestions about how the scene was played in the blimp, but nonetheless, remained theories and suggestions since nothing was confirmed. Thus, the story of “the Ghost Blimp” was born.


On August 16, 1942, the two pilots took off on a scheduled patrol off the California coast near San Francisco in the L-8 blimp. Looking for a Japanese submarine that was spotted near. The pilots radioed that they saw what might be an oil slick, hence possible evidence of a submarine near the Farallon Islands and reported that they were going for a closer look.


After a long time of not receiving any reports from the airship, the base became worried. Around that same time, the L-8 was seen breaking off its search and approaching San Francisco. The blimp, floating slowly, was briefly stuck on a clif, then breaking loose, it scraped the roofs of houses, ultimately settling at an intersection in Daly City. Local volunteer firefighters hurriedly slashed the envelope of the blimp, fearing that the pilots might be stuck inside, yet no one was found.


Parachutes were still properly stored in the blimp, but two lifejackets were missing (crew members were required to wear life jackets whenever on patrol). The radio was still functional, there were fuel, and the blimp’s life raft was still on board. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, investigations showed no evidence of what might’ve happened.


Some of the theories of what might’ve happened varied from rational scenarios to just outright bizarre. Some say that the men staged a desertion plot or they might’ve been captured by a Japanese submarine. Another suggestion was, what if one of the two men had killed the other, then vanished? Others thought that the only logical reason behind this unexplained disappearance was that they were abducted by a UFO, or maybe, they somehow fell out of the blimp. Even so, all of these remained theories considering that these men were never found.


The control car of the blimp was donated by Goodyear to the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Florida, where it was restored and displayed. While other memorabilia from the L-8 is displayed by the Lighter-Than-Air Society and National Lighter-than-air Historical Center at the Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS) Museum eternally reminding us of one of the most mysterious events in aviation history.


Cover photo:

Discover more from Aviation for Aviators

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

You May Have Missed