Zachary Lansdowne was born on December 1, 1888, in Greenville, Ohio. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy on September 2, 1905, and graduated on June 5, 1909. After serving two years aboard the battleship USS Virginia (BB-13), Lansdowne was commissioned an Ensign on June 5, 1911. His next assignment was aboard the destroyer USS McCall (DD-28), followed by recruiting and Naval Militia duty in Ohio from 1911 to 1916. After receiving flying training at Pensacola, Florida, and Akron, Ohio, LT Lansdowne was designated Naval Aviator #105 in 1917. He went to England in September 1917 for training in the operation of dirigibles, and spent the remainder of World War I at the Navy Department in Washington, D.C., and in France. LCDR Lansdowne participated in the first East-to-West crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by aircraft in the British airship R-34 in July 1919, and then served at the Navy Department, at Akron, Ohio, and as a White House Aide, before serving as Assistant Naval Attache in Germany from 1922 to 1923. LCDR Lansdowne next commanded the airship USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) from February 1924 until he was killed in the crash of the Shenandoah at Ava, Ohio, on September 3, 1925. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander Zachary Lansdowne, United States Navy, for distinguished service in the line of his profession as one of the crew of the British Airship R-34, which in July 1919, made the first successful non-stop passage from England to the United States. The actions of Lieutenant Commander Lansdowne on this occasion were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.