The pilot of an airship was killed when the craft caught fire and crashed in western Germany on Sunday, AFP reported. Three passengers were able to leap to safety.
A blimp crashes near the venue of the Hessentag festival in Oberursel, Germany, on June 12.
AFP - Getty Images
A crashed airship burns near Oberursel, western Germany, on June 12
Arne Dedert / AFP - Getty Images
Firemen work at the accident site of a crashed airship late on June 12 in Reichelsheim, western Germany.
Photographer Joachim Storch, who was one of the passengers, told Germany's Bild newspaper that the pilot encountered difficulties as he was coming in to land. Storch and the other passengers jumped out of the craft when it was around two meters off the ground. The airship immediately shot upwards, gaining up to fifty meters in height, possibly due to the sudden loss of weight. The survivors then heard the screams of the pilot as the blimp was engulfed in flames.
The Herald Sun in Australia reported there was a strong odor of gasoline before the engines caught fire.
The golden age of airship travel came to an end in 1937 when the Hindenburg Zeppelin exploded above Lakehurst, N.J. The company did not build another commercial airship for 60 years, but last week we reported that an airship operator was offering passenger flights on a Zeppelin out of Northeast Philadelphia Airport.
UPDATE, 10.45 ET: This post was updated to remove references to the crashed airship having been a Zeppelin, which is how it was described in a caption supplied by the AFP agency. According to the website airships.net, the craft involved was an A60 airship, correctly described as a blimp. Thanks are due to our readers for alerting us to the error.