This book is simultaneously a biography of Rear Admiral Herbert Victor Wiley and a history of the U.S. Navy's lighter-than-air (LTA) program. As tensions rose between Japan and the United States over control of East Asia and the Pacific Ocean, the prospects of war between the two nations increased. The Navy tracked Germany's use of zeppelins during World War I and saw an aircraft with the potential to conduct long-range reconnaissance over the oceanssomething that could not be achieved by airplanes or surface ships. While rapid progress was being made in manned flight, it was still young enough that the future of LTA vs. HTA (heavier-than-air) flight was unknown. At the time airships had a much greater range than airplanes. In its history, the Navy had four great airshipsthe USS Shenandoah, the USS Los Angeles, the USS Akron, and the USS Macon. Wiley served on all four of these vessels and the history of each is covered through the career of Wiley. Three of the airships met with disaster and Wiley survived the crash of two of them. Through an examination of the records of the Navy's Courts of Inquiry, M. Ernest Marshall explores in detail the events leading to the crashes.