Signal Corps Dirigible No. 1

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Signal Corps Dirigible No. 1
Signal Corps Dirigible No 1 afmil-01.jpg
Role Dirigible
National origin United States
Designer Thomas Scott Baldwin
Number built 1
Unit cost
$5,737.50 in 1908

Signal Corps Dirigible No. 1 was the first powered aircraft ordered for the Signal Corps by the Aeronautical Division of the United States Army. The purchase of SC-1, a dirigible designed by Thomas Scott Baldwin, was the result of urgings by Chief Signal Officer Brigadier General James Allen. After seeing Baldwin demonstrate a dirigible at the St. Louis air meet in 1907, Allen had urged the U.S. Army to buy a dirigible, as many European armies had dirigibles by the turn of the century.[1]

On 5 August 1908, the Army tested SC-1 at Fort Myer, Virginia. The craft fell short of a 2-hour, 20 mph objective to meet a $8,000 per unit award. The Army formally accepted the craft as Signal Corps Dirigible No. 1 paying $5,737.50.[2] On 28 Aug. 1908 Lieutenants Frank Lahm, Thomas Selfridge and Benjamin Foulois were taught to fly the craft.[1]

After Second Lieutenant John G Winter Jr of the 6th Cavalry was assigned to duty in the Aeronautical Division, the balloon detachment was transferred to Fort Omaha, Nebraska.[3]

On 26 May, pilot Lieutenant Lahm and Lieutenant Foulois made a flight in SC-1 at Fort Omaha, and manoeuvred the craft at will. SC-1 remained there until scrapped in 1912. The Army did not purchase another dirigible until after World War I.[1]

Specifications (Signal Corps Dirigible No. 1)[edit]

Data from Smithsonian

General characteristics

  • Capacity: 1
  • Length: 93 ft (28 m)
  • Volume: 20,000 cu ft (570 m3)
  • Useful lift: 1,360 lb (620 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Curtiss , 20 hp (15 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 17 kn; 32 km/h (19.61 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 12 kn; 22 km/h (13.75 mph)


  1. ^ a b c Baldwin Dirigible: U.S. Army\'s First Airship. National Museum of the United States Air Force. 22 May 2010. URL: Accessed: 2010-05-22. (Archived by WebCite at
  2. ^ Tom D. Crouch. "Aero Club of Washington: Aviation in the Nation's Capital, 1909-1914": 39. 
  3. ^ "Army News: Dirigible No 1", Aeronautics; Volume 5, Number 1, p. 10, July 1909