The U.S.S. Macon was one of two giant rigid airships built by the U.S. Navy during the early 1930s. Along with her sister ship the Akron, the Macon was designed as a flying aircraft carrier, with five Curtiss F9C "Sparrowhawk" biplanes launched and recovered by an ingenious "trapeze" mechanism. The idea was to combine the incredible range of the airships with the speed of the planes to create a scouting force capable of locating enemy ships in the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean. (Given that this was in the decade before World War II, it shouldn't be hard to guess just which enemy ships the Navy had in mind.)
It was a neat idea, but it failed. The airships were very well-designed and well-built, using a lot of technology adapted by Goodyear from the Zeppelin corporation. But the engineering of the 1930s simply wasn't good enough to build lighter-than-air vessels capable of withstanding powerful wind shear. Both Akron and Macon broke up in storms. When the wind at the front of the airship is blowing one way and the wind at the back end is blowing another way, something has to give, and unfortunately what gave was the frail aluminum skeleton of the airships. After the loss of the Macon, the Navy abandoned rigid airships.
Airships did serve in World War II, doing valuable service as U-boat spotters escorting convoys, but they weren't giant rigids but blimps. Blimps were smaller, cheaper, tougher -- and expendable.
Now a team from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has located the wreck of the Macon on the seabottom and is conducting an underwater exploration of the site. More than 70 years after the dirigible went down we may get another look at what remains.
To celebrate, how about some airship wine?