John Fanelli volunteered in the Navy at age 17 out of Manhattan Aviation High School and served at Naval Air Station South Weymouth, MA from 1956-1960 as an AM3 airship rigger and flight crew member. He flew 40-hour flights on blimps 718, 563, and 719 SNOW GOOSE. John painted the international orange color nose cone on the SNOW GOOSE (see below) and was one of the original mule drivers who replaced the ground handling crew.
The SNOW GOOSE (BuNO 126719) ZPG-2 airship was initially delivered in January 1954, overhauled at O & R Lakehurst in 1958 (after a bad landing at NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba) and reconfigured (but without the extensive array of cameras and snow measuring devices of the SNOWBIRD) and reassigned to NADU for cold weather research. The reconfigured SNOW GOOSE made a 6,200 mile voyage to the high Arctic in August 1958.