National Air and Space Museum Archives

The George Henry Mills Collection

Collection ID:
Mills, George H., 1895-1975
circa 1920s-1950s
bulk 1930-1949
Physical Description:
13.39 Cubic feet
24 legal document boxes; 7 flatboxes
14.95 Linear feet
The George Henry Mills Collection was donated to the National Air and Space Museum in 1994 by Mills' daughter, Mrs. Georgia Mills Head.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The George Henry Mills Collection consists of 14.59 cubic feet (14.47 linear feet) of material collected from his naval career, 1918-1948. A large part of the collection is made up of records of Mills' service during World War II as the commander of the Atlantic Fleet's airship formations. The collection also includes records of his service as an official Navy observer aboard the German rigid airships Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg. Of particular interest are records of the period before and immediately after the entry of the United States into World War II: the pre-war build-up of the Navy's LTA program, the "Neutrality Patrols" as the Navy fought an undeclared war against Germany, and of the harrowing early days of the Battle of the North Atlantic as German U-boats roamed the eastern coast of the United States. Mills maintained an extensive correspondence with many of the leading figures of LTA: Charles E. Rosendahl, Garland Fulton, and Scott E. Peck --their letters provide a unique picture of the Navy LTA program during its most active and successful period.
The collection also includes numerous technical reports on aspects of LTA flight, training material, photographs, clippings and articles on LTA.
Note: The digital images in this finding aid were repurposed from scans made by an outside contractor for a commercial product and may show irregular cropping and orientation in addition to color variations resulting from damage to and deterioration of the original objects.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
The George H. Mills Collection is arranged in the following series:
Series I: Naval career of George H. Mills
Series II: Correspondence
Series III: General LTA Papers
Series IV: General Naval Papers
Series V: Publications, Articles, Clippings
Series VI: Lectures, Speeches, Papers
Series VII: Miscellaneous Papers
Series VIII: Photographs
Series IX: Scrapbooks; Oversized Material

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
George Henry Mills (1895-1975), Naval officer and airship aviator, was a member of the U.S. Navy's inner circle of advocates of lighter than air (LTA) flight. Mills was born on August 5, 1895 in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, the son of John Craton Mills and Nora Poole Mills. He attended Bingham Military School in Asheville, North Carolina, and entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1914. Mills graduated from the Academy in June, 1918 and served in various fleet and shore assignments (a chronology of Mills' naval service will be found in the notes to Series I on page 2). He married Leonore Wickersham of Corning, NY in 1923; their daughter, Georgia Lee Mills, was born in 1928.
Mills was assigned to LTA training at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1931. He completed his training in 1932 and served in the Navy's LTA fleet through the 1930's. Mills flew as an observer on board the Graf Zeppelin in 1934 and on the Hindenburg in 1936. In 1935, Mills survived the crash of the USS Macon off the California coast. Mills returned to Lakehurst, serving there in various assignments; he was made commanding officer of NAS Lakehurst in January, 1940.
At Lakehurst, Mills organized blimp patrols as part of the Navy's Neutrality Patrol and helped coordinate the Navy's rapid buildup of the LTA program. When Airship Patrol Group One was formed in January 1942, Mills was named commanding officer; in December 1942 he commanded Airship Wing Thirty. In July 1943, Mills was assigned as the commander of Fleet Airships, Atlantic - the chief of the Navy's LTA forces in the Atlantic Theater. George Mills was promoted to the rank of Commodore in November 1943.
In 1945, Mills returned to sea as the captain of the troopship USS Hermitage. Before retirement from the Navy in 1949, Mills served as the chief of the Naval Airship Training and Experimentation Command (CNATE) at NAS Lakehurst.
After leaving the Navy, Mills settled in North Carolina and worked for the Equitable Life Insurance Company, and later for the National Securities and Research Corporation. Mills served one term in the North Carolina State Legislature from 1950 to 1952. George H. Mills died on October 24, 1975, the same day as his longtime LTA colleague and friend, Garland Fulton, whose papers are also part of the collections of the National Air and Space Archives. They were buried on the same day in Arlington National Cemetery.

Chronology of George H. Mills' Naval Service
June 14 - Entered U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
June 6 - Graduated from the Academy, Class of 1919; commissioned Ensign, USN
September 21 - Service aboard USS New Mexico. Promoted to Lieutenant (JG)(Temporary)
June 1 - Promotion to Lieutenant (JG)
First LTA flight as gunnery spotter on captive balloon on USS New Mexico
June 3 - Promotion to Lieutenant
September 25 - Assigned as personal aide to RADM George W. Williams, Commandant, Sixth Naval District, Charleston, SC
June 20 - Assigned as divisions communication officer on staff of VADM Henry A. Wiley, Battleship Division, Battle Fleet
June 5 -Assistant gunnery officer and senior watch officer, USS Pensacola
August 5 - Served as aide and flag secretary to RADM Williams as Commander Destroyer Squadrons, Scouting Fleet. Served on USS Concord, USS Dobbin, USS Whitney
September - Continued as aide when RADM Williams was relieved by RADM Noble E. Irwin
June 1 - Ordered to NAS Lakehurst for LTA instruction. Training flights on free and captive balloons and on airships Los Angeles (ZR-3), Akron (ZRS-4), J-3, J-4, K-1 and ZMC-2
June 16 - Finished LTA training; designated naval aviator, lighter-than-air, # 3925
June 30 - Officer-in-charge, naval recruiting for North and South Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina
September 1 - Promotion to Lieutenant Commander
May 14 - Ordered on temporary duty as naval observer on the Graf Zeppelin. Made three round trips aboard the Graf Zeppelin between Friedrichshafen and cities in South America
August 9 - Ordered to NAS Lakehurst as Operations Officer
October 14 - Ordered to NAS Sunnyvale (later NAS Moffett Field) as tactical officer, pilot and navigational watch on USS Macon (ZRS-4)
February 12 - USS Macon crashes off Point Sur, California. Mills is rescued after three hours in the water
April 15 - Ordered to NAS Lakehurst as operations and mooring officer
November 4 - Ordered to Newport News for fitting out USS Yorktown
August - Naval observer aboard Hindenburg on round trip flights between Lakehurst and Frankfort, Germany
September 30 – Assigned as gunnery officer, USS Yorktown
September 12 – October 2 - Training in chemical warfare at Gas Warfare School, Edgewood Arsenal, MD
July 1 - Promotion to Commander
June – Assigned as executive officer, NAS Lakehurst
January 15 - Appointed commanding officer, NAS Lakehurst
July - Temporary duty, Airship Board, Washington
December 1 - Appointed Commander, Fleet Airship Wing Thirty
June 17 - Promotion to Captain
January 2 - Appointed Commander, Airship Patrol Group One
November 5 - Promotion to Commodore
July 1 - Appointed Commander, Fleet Airships, Atlantic
July 23 - Awarded Legion of Merit
July 10 - Appointed captain, USS Hermitage (AP-54). Reverts to rank of captain
August 5 - Appointed commander, NAS Moffett Field
September 26 - Appointed chief, Naval Airship Training and Experimentation Command (CNATE)
June 30 - Retirement from U.S. Navy
    Anti-submarine warfare
    Air Transport Command
    Bureau of Aeronautics (US Navy)
    Naval Airship Training and Experimentation Command
    George Henry Mills
    Lighter than air flight
    Magnetic anomaly detector (often found as magnetic airborne detector)
    National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
    Naval Air Station
    Naval Air Transport Service
    No date
    Rear admiral
    Royal Navy
    Vice Admiral
    Works Project Authority
    Patrol airship
    Airship squadron

Allan Janus
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Georgia M. Head, Gift, 1994, 1994-0022, NASM
Processing Information
This collection includes the following types of material documenting Mills' career: correspondence, maps, newspaper articles, magazines, photographs, memos, lithographs, pamphlets, scrapbooks, handwritten notes, reports, and manuals.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
No restrictions on access.
Conditions Governing Use
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at
Preferred Citation
George Henry Mills Collection, Acc. 1994-0022, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Works of art Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Airships Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Publications Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Maps Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Antisubmarine aircraft Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Navy. Naval Airship Program Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mills, George H., 1895-1975 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Air and Space Museum Archives
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151