List of airship accidents

The following is a partial list of airship accidents.

Date Incident Deaths Injured
12 June 1897 Deutschland falls over Tempelhof Field in Berlin killing Friedrich Hermann Wölfert and his mechanic Robert Knabe. 2 0
2 May 1902 Semi-rigid airship Pax explodes over Paris, killing Augusto Severo and Georges Saché. 2 0
13 October 1902 Separation of gondola from the Bradsky's envelope over Paris kills Herlad de Bradsky and Paul Morin. 2 0
30 November 1907 French Army airship Patrie broke loose from its mooring during a storm and was blown over the English Channel; after sightings in Wales and Ireland and a brief touchdown in Belfast, the airship was blown out over the Atlantic Ocean and was never seen again. 0 0
23 May 1908 Morrell airship falls over Berkeley, California. All 16 survive but some with serious injuries. 0 16
5 August 1908 Zeppelin LZ 4 caught fire near Echterdingen after it broke loose from mooring and was blown into some trees. 0 0
25 September 1909 French Army's La République crashes near Avrilly, Allier killing four. 4 0
13 July 1910 Airship Erbslöh explodes over Rhenish Prussia killing all five. 5 0
15 October 1910 American non-rigid airship America disappeared without a trace off Nova Scotia after being abandoned by its crew. 0 0
4 May 1911 British Army's Morning Post is blown off course during descent. It crashed into trees and houses before bursting and seriously burning one French mechanic. 0 1
24 September 1911 HMA No. 1, more commonly known as the Mayfly was the first rigid airship to be built in the UK. It broke in two due to strong winds while being removed from its shed in Barrow-in-Furness for ground trials. 0 0
2 July 1912 Privately owned Goodyear-built airship Akron explodes on transatlantic attempt off Atlantic City killing all five, including inventor Melvin Vaniman. 5 0
4 September 1912 Budapest, Hungary. Military Airship, three soldiers killed while engaged in military training manoeuvres. The airship was being prepared for an ascent and was being held down by more than 100 soldiers, a heavy wind prevailed and a sudden gust carried the airship away. It arose rapidly and all but three of the men released their grip on the rope. These held on until exhaustion weakened their grip, causing them to fall to their deaths one by one. 3 0
9 September 1913 Imperial German Navy L 1 (Zeppelin LZ 14) crashed in a storm north of Heligoland. 14 drowned, 6 survivors. First fatal Zeppelin accident. 14 6
17 October 1913 Imperial German Navy L 2 (Zeppelin LZ 18) caught fire and was destroyed during a test flight. All 28 killed. 28 0
20 June 1914 Austro-Hungarian Army Militärluftschiff III, destroyed in a collision with an army Farman HF.20 over Fischamend. All seven on airship killed along with the two in the biplane. 9 0
3 September 1915 Imperial German Navy L 10 (Zeppelin LZ 40) destroyed by fire on 3 September 1915 after being struck by lightning near Cuxhaven, killing 19 crew members. 19 0
10 November 1915 Imperial German Navy D.1 (Schütte-Lanz type SL6) explodes after take-off over Seddin, killing all 20. 20 0
17 November 1915 Imperial German Navy L 18 (Zeppelin LZ 52) destroyed in shed fire at Tondern.
1 February 1916 Imperial German Navy L 19 (Zeppelin LZ 54) comes down in the North Sea, off the coast of the Netherlands, after an air-raid on the United Kingdom. All 16 crew survive the crash, but subsequently perish after the crew of a British fishing boat refuse to rescue them. 16 0
21 February 1916 In an experiment to launch a BE.2C fighter from under a SS-class non-rigid airship, Neville Usborne and another British officer are killed.[1] 2 0
12 May 1916 French airship CM-T-1 destroyed by fire near Porto Torres, Sardinia while en route to Fréjus/St Raphaël, France.
16 September 1916 Imperial German Navy L 6 (Zeppelin LZ 31) caught fire during inflation in hangar at Fuhlsbuttel and destroyed along with L 9 (Zeppelin LZ 36).
7 November 1916 Imperial German Army LZ 90 (Zeppelin LZ 60) disappeared without a trace after it broke loose in a storm and was blown out to sea.
20 October 1917 Imperial German Army L 45 (Zeppelin LZ 85) performed a forced landing near Sisteron, France due to fuel exhaustion; all 17 crew were taken captive after the commander set the airship on fire. 0 0
12 December 1917 "North Sea"-class blimp N.S.5 sets off for RNAS East Fortune, but both engines fail within sight of her destination, and she drifts with the wind for about 10 mi (16 km) before they can be restarted. However, since both engines continue to be troublesome it is decided to make a "free balloon" landing, but the ship is damaged beyond repair during the attempt.
5 January 1918 Ahlhorn hangars explode destroying the LZ 87 (L 47), LZ 94 (L 46), LZ 97 (L 51), LZ 105 (L 58), and SL20. Fifteen killed, 134 injured.[2] 15 134
7 April 1918 Imperial German Navy L 59 (Zeppelin LZ 104) explodes over Malta for reasons unknown, killing all 21 crew. 21 0
2 July 1919 US Navy blimp C-8 explodes while landing at Camp Holabird, Maryland, injuring ~80 adults and children who were watching it. Windows in homes a mile away are shattered by the blast.[3][4] 80+
15 July 1919 Royal Navy North Sea class airship N.S.11 burns over the North Sea off Norfolk, England, killing twelve.[5][6] In the early hours of 15 July on what was officially supposed to be a mine-hunting patrol, she was seen to fly beneath a long "greasy black cloud" off Cley next the Sea on the Norfolk coast and a massive explosion was heard shortly after. A vivid glare lasted for a few minutes as the burning airship descended, and finally plunged into the sea after a second explosion. There were no survivors, and the findings of the official Court of Enquiry were inconclusive, but amongst other possibilities it was thought that a lightning strike may have caused the explosion.[7] 12 0
21 July 1919 American airship Wingfoot Air Express caught fire over downtown Chicago, 2 passengers, one crewmember and 10 people on the ground killed, 2 parachuted to safety.[8] 13 28
19 June 1920 US Navy Goodyear airship D-1, A4450, is destroyed by fire [9] at the Goodyear Wingfoot Lake Airship Base, Suffield Township, Portage County, Ohio.[10]
6 February 1921 Soviet military airship Krasnaya Zvezda (ex-French Astra-Torres AT-13) crashed.
7 July 1921 US Navy airship C-3 burned at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia[11]
23 August 1921 British R38. Built for US Navy and already carrying "ZR-2" markings, broke in half and burned after suffering structural failure during high-speed trials over Hull. 44 killed, 5 survivors. 44
31 August 1921 US Navy airship D-6, A5972, burned in hangar fire at NAS Rockaway along with airships C-10 and H-1 and kite balloon A-P.
21 February 1922 US Army airship Roma (ex-Italian T34). Hit power lines in Virginia and caught fire. 34 killed, 11 survivors. 34 8
17 October 1922 U.S. Army's largest blimp, C-2 (A4419), catches fire shortly after being removed from its hangar at Brooks Field, San Antonio, Texas for a flight. Seven of eight crew aboard are injured, mostly in jumping from the craft. This accident was made the occasion for official announcement by the Army and the Navy that the use of hydrogen would be abandoned "as speedily as possible."[12] On 14 September 1922, the C-2 had made the first transcontinental airship flight, from Langley Field, Virginia, to Foss Field, California, under the command of Maj. H. A. Strauss.[13] 7
21 December 1923 French Navy's Dixmude (ex Zeppelin LZ114). Struck by lightning over Mediterranean near Sicily and explodes in mid-air. All 50 aboard killed.[14] 50 0
10 October 1924 US Army blimp TC-2 explodes over Newport News when a bomb it was carrying detonates. Two of the crew of five were killed. 2
3 September 1925 US Navy USS Shenandoah (ZR-1). Caught in storm over Noble County, Ohio, and broke into several pieces. 14 killed, 29 survivors. 14
25 May 1928 Italian semi-rigid Italia. Crashed on return from successful trip to North Pole. 7 killed, 1 crash survivor died from exposure, 8 rescued, 6 rescuers lost including Roald Amundsen. 8
5 October 1930 British experimental design R101. Dived into ground during rainstorm in France. 48 killed, 6 survivors.[15] This is the deadliest civilian airship accident. 48
11 May 1932 Abortive landing of USS Akron at Camp Kearny, California – ropes pull three members of the mooring crew high into the air; two fall to their deaths, the third is saved. 2 1
4 April 1933 USS Akron. Lost at sea off coast of New Jersey in severe storm. With 73 dead - many drowned - and 3 survivors, this is the deadliest airship accident. 73 3
4 April 1933 US Navy airship J-3 A7382 lost in surf off New Jersey coast with two crew killed while looking for USS Akron survivors. 2
16 August 1934 Soviet SSSR-V7 Chelyushinets burned in its hangar at Dolgoprudny along with SSSR-V4 Komsomolskaya Pravda and SSSR-V5; the fire was caused by a lightning strike.
12 February 1935 USS Macon crashed off coast of Point Sur, Monterey, California after crosswinds broke an already damaged section. 2 dead, 81 survivors. 2
24 October 1935 Soviet SSSR-V7 bis hit a powerline near the Finnish border causing a fire, one crew member died while the rest managed to escape. 1
6 May 1937 German LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire while landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey. 35 dead, 1 on ground killed, 62 survivors. 36
6 February 1938 Soviet SSSR-V6 OSOAVIAKhIM – 13 out of 19 crew died after crashing into a mountain some 300 km south of Murmansk on a practice flight for an arctic rescue mission. 13 3
6 August 1938 Soviet SSSR-V10 crashed near Beskudnikovo killing all seven crew. 7 0
8 June 1942 U.S. Navy blimps G-1 and L-2 collide mid-air, killing twelve including five civilian scientists. 12 0
16 August 1942 Designated Flight 101. The two experienced crew of the U.S. Navy blimp L-8 disappeared without explanation during the flight giving it the name "The Ghost Blimp." The blimp drifted inland from its Pacific patrol route, striking the ground and leaving its depth charge armament on the beach. It then lifted off and drifted further inland and crashed on a downtown street in Daly City, California. The gondola door had been latched open, and the safety bar which was normally used to block the doorway was no longer in place. Two of the three life jackets on board were missing, but these would have been worn by the two crew during flight, as regulations required. A year after their disappearance the pilots were officially declared dead.[16] 2 0
19 April 1944 U.S. Navy airship K-133, of Airship Patrol Squadron 22 (ZP-22), operating out of NAS Houma, Louisiana, was caught in a thunderstorm while patrolling over the Gulf of Mexico. It went down and twelve of thirteen crew were lost; the sole survivor was recovered after spending 21 hours in the water.[17] 12 1
21 April 1944 The southeast door of blimp hangar at NAS Houma, Louisiana, was chained open due to a fault. A gust of wind carried three K-class blimps, all of ZP-22, out into the night. K-56 traveled 4.5 miles before crashing into trees. K-57, caught fire 4 miles from the air station. K-62, fetched up against high-tension powerlines a quarter mile away and burned. K-56 was salvaged, repaired at Goodyear at Akron, Ohio, repaired and returned to service.[17][18]
16 May 1944 Training accident at Lakehurst, New Jersey kills ten of eleven crewmen of K-5 as it crashes into the number one hangar. 10
2 July 1944 U.S. Navy blimp K-14 crashes off Maine, killing six of the ten crewmen. Her loss has been attributed to accident or machine gun fire from a U-boat. 6 4
7 July 1944 U.S. Navy blimp K-53 falls into the Caribbean, killing one of her crew of ten. 1
17 October 1944 U.S. Navy blimp K-111 crashes on Santa Catalina Island, California, killing seven of her ten crewmen. 7
5 November 1944 U.S. Navy blimp K-34 crashes off the coast of the State of Georgia, killing two of eleven crewmen. 2
3 May 1945 A Navy blimp's fuel tanks explodes over Santa Ana, California killing eight of nine. 8
29 January 1947 Soviet airship Pobeda gets caught in a powerline and crashes killing all three on board. 3 0
14 May 1959 US Navy ZPG-2 crashes into hangar roof during a dense fog at Lakehurst, New Jersey killing one and injuring 17. 1 17
6 July 1960 US Navy N class blimp ZPG-3W crashed into the sea off New Jersey. 18 of the 21 crew were killed. 18
8 October 1980 The 170-foot EA-1 Jordache blimp, N5499A, leased by Jordache Enterprises Co., crashes at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, New Jersey on its maiden flight. With an 0815 hrs. launch, and a flightplan to Teterboro Airport and thence to a Manhattan photo shoot, the airship, weighed down with gold and burgundy paint, reached 600 feet altitude before beginning an unplanned right descending turn, with pilot James Buza, 40, making a "controlled descent" into a garbage dump, impaling the blimp on a pine tree, coming down just a quarter mile from the site of the Hindenburg's 1937 demise. Buza, the only crewmember, was unhurt.[19] According to the NTSB report, the cause was poor design. The pilot also had zero hours experience in the type. 0 0
1 July 1986 The experimental Helistat 97-34J, utilizing the envelope of a retired US Navy ZPG-2W N class blimp, crashes at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey during a test flight, killing one. 1 0
4 July 1993 US LTA 138S airship Bigfoot, which bore the Pizza Hut logo, crashed on top of buildings in Manhattan. The cause included inadequate FAA standards according to the NTSB report.[20][21] 0 2
23 May 1994 WDL-1B airship was attempting to land in Giessen, Germany when a sudden gust of wind lifted it. Ten of the ground crew tried holding it down but eight let go of the ropes. The remaining two fell to their deaths.[22] 2 0
11 September 1994 Airship International blimp bearing the Gulf Oil logo crash lands on a house at Framimgdale, Long Island having lost gas pressure. It was on its way to cover the U.S. Open (tennis). No injuries but power was lost in the neighborhood.[23][24] 0 0
May 1995 The Goodyear blimp GZ-20 Eagle, tail number N10A, suffered a deflationary incident, when the blimp struck the ground near the Carson, California, mooring site while unmanned. This blimp was repaired and rechristened as the Eagle N2A. No injuries were reported. 0 0
1 July 1998 Icarus Aircraft Inc. / American Blimp Corporation ABC-A-60, N760AB, encountered severe downdraft on positioning flight from Williamsport, Pennsylvania to Youngstown, Ohio, and was substantially damaged when it impacted trees at 1105 hrs. during uncontrolled descent ~eight miles (~13 km) NW of Piper Memorial, near Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. After being blown from treetop to treetop for about ten minutes, gondola settled in a tree about 40 feet (12 m) in the air and the two pilots exited uninjured and climbed down the tree. Some fifteen minutes later the airship was blown another 900 feet (275 m) before coming to rest.[25] 0 0
28 October 1999 The Goodyear blimp GZ-22 "Spirit of Akron", N4A, crashed in Suffield Township, Ohio, when it suddenly entered an uncontrolled left turn and began descending. The pilot and technician on board received only minor injuries when the blimp impacted with trees. The NTSB reported the probable cause as being improperly hardened metal splines on the control actuators shearing and causing loss of control.[26] 0 1
16 June 2005 A model GZ-20 Goodyear blimp named Stars and Stripes (N1A), crashed shortly after take off in Coral Springs, Florida. No one was injured. Bad weather may have been a factor in the incident. 0 0
26 September 2006 The Hood blimp, an American Blimp Corporation A-60, crashed into a wooded area of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. The airship left Beverly Municipal Airport at about 1215 hrs. Shortly after, the pilot started to have problems, and he tried to land on Singing Beach, but instead got caught in some trees near Brookwood Road. The pilot was not injured. 0 0
14 June 2011 A Goodyear Blimp operated by The Lightship Group in Reichelsheim (Wetterau), Germany caught fire and crashed, resulting in the death of Michael Nerandzic, an experienced pilot whose last-minute actions saved the lives of his three passengers.[27] 1
14 August 2011 The Hangar-1 blimp operated by The Lightship Group broke free of its mooring in Worthington, Ohio, crash landing in a yard. No injuries.[28] 0 0
4 May 2012 An Israeli spy blimp crashed when a crop duster struck the blimp's side.[29]
28 October 2015 An experimental United States military defense airship became untethered in Maryland, and drifted 100 miles north crashing in Anthony Township, Pennsylvania.
24 August 2016 The Hybrid Air Vehicles HAV 304 Airlander 10 suffered cockpit damage, but no injuries, and dragged a mooring rope through power lines near the airfield, as a result of an anomalously steep approach and landing on its second test flight at Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire, England.[30]

See also


  1. Harper, H. J. C. (1 November 1937). "Composite History: The Short-Mayo Scheme Recalls Experiments in the Past". Flight.
  3. Johnston, G.T.; M. Sadecki, Ed (15 February 2009), Historical Society of Baltimore County - 350th Chronology (PDF), The Historical Society of Baltimore County, archived from the original (PDF) on 26 July 2011, retrieved 30 August 2016
  4. The New York Times INDEX: A Master-Key to All Newspapers, July-August-September, 1919. Times Square, New York: The New York Times Co. 1919. p. 2. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  5. "British Airship Burns with Crew; Twelve Lost When the NS-11 Falls Flaming Into the North Sea". The New York Times. London. 16 July 1919. p. 1.
  6. Harrington, John Walker (27 July 1919), "Editorial: Helium for Flying; Noninflammable Gas May Yet Be Produced in Quantities and at a Cost Suited for Dirigibles", The New York Times
  7. Warmsley, Nick, The Loss of N.S.11 – A Local View, archived from the original on 4 February 2008, retrieved 5 April 2009
  8. O'Brien, Ellen; Benedict, Lyle (June 2001). "1919, July 21: Dirigible (Balloon) Crash". Deaths, Disturbances, Disasters and Disorders in Chicago (Municipal Reference Collection). Chicago Public Library. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  9. Swanborough, Gordon, and Bowers, Peter M., "United States Navy Aircraft since 1911", Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1976, Library of Congress card number 90-60097, ISBN 0-87021-792-5, pages 573–574.
  10. Brown, P. Rendall. "A Brief History of the Wingfoot Lake Airship Base". The Lighter-Than-Air Society. Archived from the original on 1 September 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  11. "BIG NAVY DIRIGIBLE BURNED IN FLIGHT; Flames Destroy the C-3 at Hampton Roads—Crew Escapes Serious Injuries". The New York Times. 8 July 1921. p. 1.
  12. Roseberry, C. R., "The Challenging Skies – The Colorful Story of Aviation's Most Exciting Years, 1919–1939", Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1966, Library of Congress card number 66-20929, page 347.
  13. "History Milestones: Monday, January 01, 1900 - Sunday, December 31, 1939". U.S. Air Force. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  14. Bennighof, Mike (March 2006). "France's Naval Airship". Avalanche Press. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  15. Secretary of State of Air (March 1931), Report of the R.101 Inquiry (PDF), London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, p. 7, archived from the original (PDF) on 15 March 2012
  16. "The Crash of Navy Blimp L-8: 16 August 1942". Check-Six. May 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2008.
  17. Shettle, M. L., "United States Naval Air Stations of World War II – Volume II | Western States", Schaertel Publishing Co., Bowersville, Georgia, 1997, Library of Congress card number 96-070565, ISBN 0-9643388-1-5, page 99.
  18. "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos: Third Series (30147 to 39998)". 21 August 2009. Archived from the original on 8 September 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  19. Associated Press, "Blimp Crashes Near Zeppelin Crash Site", Anderson Independent, Anderson, South Carolina, Thursday, 9 October 1980, page 4A.
  20. NTSB Identification: BFO93FA107. Aircraft: US/LTA 138S AIRSHIP, registration: N832US, National Transportation Safety Board, 17 August 1994, archived from the original on 29 November 2014
  21. McFadden, Robert D. (5 July 1993). "Blimp Crash-Lands on Roof of a Building in Manhattan". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  22. Neues Deutschland, Zeppelin-Unfall. 24 May 1994.
  23. "Blimp Bound for U.S. Open Touches Down Against House". The New York Times. 12 September 1994. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  24. Lewis, Don (11 September 1994). "Gulf tennis blimp crashes in NYC suburb". UPI. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  25. "Airscene | Commercial Accidents", AIR International, Stamford, Lincs, U.K., September 1998, Volume 55, Number 3, page 142.
  26. NTSB Identification: IAD00LA002. Aircraft: Loral Corp. GZ-22, registration: N4A, National Transportation Safety Board, 17 May 2001, archived from the original on 22 June 2013
  27. "Blimp pilot dies saving passengers from fiery crash". CNN. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  28. "Heavy Winds Lift 128-Foot-Long Blimp Moored at Ohio State Airport Into Air: Hasn't Been Found". The Washington Post. 14 August 2011.
  29. Cenciotti, David (6 May 2012). "Israeli spy blimp crashes near Gaza". The Aviationist. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  30. "Airlander 10: Longest aircraft damaged during flight". BBC. 24 August 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
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