After the ZR-2 British airship intended for our fleet crashed in 1921, we built the ZR-1 Shenandoah, the first rigid airship constructed in America. At that point, people doubted the safety of zeppelins, but the government assured us that transitioning into helium and constructing mooring masts (instead of ground-based sheds) would eliminate the accidents that befallen previous efforts. Experts insisted that airships were commercially viable and provided a better experience than steamers and airplanes. Zeppelins could not only carry more passengers and remain in the air longer than planes, but they came equipped with luxurious accommodations. Passengers could lounge in the dining room, linger on the observation deck and sleep in comfortable beds. What could possibly go wrong? "The fire hazard is negligible," wrote Max Michael Munk, a German aerospace engineer working for the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. "No German airship was ever burned in the air save by enemy action."
Read the full story in "Navy Builds America's First Rigid Airship to Prove Commercial POssibilities of Huge Airliners"