One of the oddball aircraft found at the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola NAS is the Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk. Only eight of these miniature fighters were built. Designed to be small in size and light weight, the aircraft would be assigned four each to the dirigibles USS Macon and USS Akron. Top speed of the Sparrowhawk was 176mph. The aircraft were stored in a hangar inside the bottom of the dirigibles and launched/recovered through a bar and hook system called the trapeze. This sole remaining Sparrowhawk is shown with her USS Macon colors. The USS Akron was wrecked in a storm off the coast in New Jersey on April 4, 1933 with only 3 of the crew of 76 surviving. The USS Macon was not long in following. A storm wrecked her too but it was off the coast of Monterey, California on February 12, 1935. The crew of the Macon were much more fortunate as only 2 of the 83 were lost.
In addition to the actual aircraft, the museum displays drawings of the manner in which the fighters were deployed and recovered, photographs of the wreckage site of USS Macon and a model of the Sparrowhawk debris field off Monterey. The National Museum of Naval Aviation is located on Pensacola Naval Air Station and is open free to the public year round. Find time to put a temporary hold on your absorption of solar radiation on Pensacola's sugar white sand beaches, to see the finest museum of its kind in the world. Your mind and your skin will thank you.