Weeksville Naval Air Station LTA
Newbegun Land is the site of the former lighter than air Weeksville Naval Air Station. In 1944, the station had a total of 886 officers & enlisted personnel and included two blimp hangars. One hangar was built of steel; the second hangar built from eastern NC southern pine. The wooden hangar was once certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest wooden building in the world. It burned to the ground in 1995 from a fire sparked by a welder's torch. The Weeksville Naval Air Station was decommissioned by the military in 1957.
In less than six months in early 1942, German U-boats torpedoed over 60 ships off the Carolina coast, disrupting shipping routes and taking innocent lives. Submarines were difficult to spot by boat in the Atlantic but blimps could easily find the German subs from above. Once a u-boat was spotted, blimp crews would summon warships to the scene or engage with their equipped machine guns and deep charges. The loss of vessels and lives due to encounters with German U-boats dramatically decreased when blimp patrols went into operation. The Weeksville Naval Air Station was commissioned for operation on April 1, 1942. Blimps from the Weeksville base patrolled the waters from Cape Hatteras to Norfolk. The blimps played a critical role in the battle of the Atlantic during World War II.
The steel hangar is still privately operated by TCOM, a company specializing in the design and manufacture of airships for everything from surveillance to sporting events.
Discover the rich history.
"When German U-boats began to hound Allied forces, the Navy took to the sky and constructed an air station in Weeksville that built blimps — soft, quiet fighters that helped turn the Battle of the Atlantic and lift the nation to victory."
"A blimp from the Naval Air Station, Weeksville, went down into the ocean about seven miles east of Nags Head Coast Guard Station"
The Coastland Times
June 22, 1951
"The navy kept a small staff on the base until the federal government sold it to the State of North Carolina in 1964. (Weeksville was used as a test site for things like communication satellites and NASA projects.)"
Tar Heel Junior Historian
The name "Pasquotank" is derived from pashetanki, an Algonquian word translated as "where the current forks."
The Civil War Battle of Elizabeth City was fought on the Pasquotank River on February 10, 1862. A small fleet of 4 confederate ships sunk in defense of the city. The Union ships were believed to have anchored off the shores of what is now Newbegun Land on the night before the battle, near Newbegun Creek's intersection.
Major Al Williams
Considered one of the world’s foremost aerobatic pilots, Major Al Williams retired to his home and farm, the Eyrie (in what is now Newbegun Land) in 1951. His former home still stands today. An aviation legend, Major Al gave up a promising baseball career in 1917 to join the Navy. In 1923, he won the Pulitzer Trophy and set a world speed record of 223 mph. And in 1925, he became Chief test pilot for the Navy. His famous "Gulfhawk" plane is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.