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Manchester Township, New Jersey

Cathedral of the Air

Beautiful stained glass depictions of the history of human flight fill this surprising chapel. 

Cathedrals were historically built with high ceilings to create a relation with heaven on Earth. But this Norman-Gothic chapel in New Jersey is more of a temple to the ingenuity of human innovation against the limits of the sky.

Conceived by the National chaplain of the American Legion, the church was erected in 1932 to serve as a place of worship for the nearby military base, but also to do something considerably more rare: commemorate the history of aviation on it’s incredible stained glass windows. 

Shining from the colorful stained glass are beautiful depictions of humanity’s quest to reach the heavens. It begins with the myths of pegasus and Icarus’ wax wings. The 18 panels then gradually lead along the history of human flight, from experimentation with lighter-than-air travel such as zeppelin airships to the Wright Brothers pioneering airplane flight.

The chapel is located near the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, a joint base with Fort Dix. An active military base, it is also a destination for visitors to Hindenburg crash site, which tragically caught fire while attempting to land at the base. Surrounded by pine trees, the beautiful chapel is an unexpected gem at the air station. Aside from the stained glass windows, at the front of the church near the entrance are memorials to the soldiers who lost their lives in the tragic crashes of the USS Akron and USS Shenandoah airships, two military dirigibles that had been based at the Lakehurst air station.