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List of airship accidents

The following is a partial list of airship accidents. Accidents with ten or more fatalities have their dates bolded.


  • 1900s 1
  • 1910s 2
  • 1920s 3
  • 1930s 4
  • 1940s 5
  • 1950s 6
  • 1960s 7
  • 1980s 8
  • 1990s 9
  • 2000s 10
  • 2010s 11
  • References 12


  • 2 May 1902: Semi-rigid airship Pax explodes over Paris, killing both crewmen.
  • 13 October 1902: Separation of gondola from envelope over Paris kills two on board the Bradsky.
  • 30 November 1907: Loss of the French Army's Patrie - no fatalities.
  • 23 May 1908: Morrell airship falls over Berkeley, California. All 16 survive but some with serious injuries.
  • 4 August 1908: Zeppelin LZ 4 caught fire near Echterdingen after it broke loose from mooring and was blown into some trees..
  • 25 September 1909: French Army's La République crashes near Avrilly, Allier killing four.


  • 13 July 1910: Airship Erbslöh explodes over Rhenish Prussia killing all five.
  • 15 October 1910: American non-rigid airship America disappeared without a trace off Nova Scotia after being abandoned by its crew.
  • 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 her shed in Barrow-in-Furness for ground trials.
  • 2 July 1912: Private airship Akron explodes on transatlantic attempt off Atlantic City killing all five, including inventor Melvin Vaniman.
  • 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.
  • 9 September 1913: Imperial German Navy L 1 (Zeppelin LZ 14) crashed in a storm. 14 drowned, 6 survivors. First fatal Zeppelin accident.
  • 17 October 1913: Imperial German Navy L 2 (Zeppelin LZ 18) caught fire and was destroyed during a test flight. All 28 killed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 10 November 1915: Imperial German Navy D.1 (Schütte-Lanz SL6) explodes after take-off over Seddin, killing all 20.
  • 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.
  • 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]
  • 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 blown out to sea.
  • 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 miles (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.
  • 7 April 1918: Imperial German Navy L 59 (Zeppelin LZ 104) explodes over Malta for reasons unknown, killing 21.
  • 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.[2][3]
  • 15 July 1919: Royal Navy North Sea class airship N.S.11 burns over the North Sea off Norfolk, England, killing twelve.[4][5] 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.[6]
  • 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.[7]


  • 19 June 1920: US Navy Goodyear airship D-1, A4450, is destroyed by fire [8] at the Goodyear Wingfoot Lake Airship Base, Suffield Township, Portage County, Ohio.[9]
  • 7 July 1921: US Navy airship C-3 burned at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia[10]
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."[11] 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.[12]
  • 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.[13]
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 5 October 1930: British experimental design R101. Dove into ground during rainstorm in France. 48 killed, 6 survivors.[14] This is the deadliest civilian airship accident.
  • 11 May 1932: Abortive landing of USS Akron – ropes pull three members of the mooring crew high into the air; two fall to their deaths, the third is saved.
  • 4 April 1933: USS Akron. Lost at sea off coast of New Jersey in severe storm due to instrument error. With 73 dead - many drowned - and 3 survivors, this is the deadliest airship accident.
  • 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.
  • 16 August 1934: Soviet SSSR-V7 Chelyushinets burned in its hangar at Dolgoprudny along with the V4 and 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.
  • 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.
  • 6 May 1937: German Hindenburg burned on landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey. 35 dead, 1 on ground killed, 62 survivors.
  • 5 February 1938: Soviet SSSR-V6 OSOAVIAKhIM – 13 out of 19 crew died after crashing into a mountain 300 km south of Murmansk on a practice flight for an arctic rescue mission.
  • 6 August 1938: Soviet SSSR-V10 crashed near Beskudnikovo killing all six crew.


  • 8 June 1942: U.S. Navy blimps G-1 and L-2 collide mid-air, killing twelve including five civilian scientists.
  • 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.[15]
  • 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.[16]
  • 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.[16][17]
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 7 July 1944: U.S. Navy blimp K-53 falls into the Caribbean, killing one of her crew of ten.
  • 17 October 1944: U.S. Navy blimp K-111 crashes on Santa Catalina Island, California, killing six of her ten crewmen.
  • 5 November 1944: U.S. Navy blimp K-34 crashes off the coast of the State of Georgia, killing two of eleven crewmen.
  • 3 May 1945: A Navy blimp's fuel tanks explodes over Santa Ana, California killing eight of nine.
  • 29 January 1947: Soviet airship Pobeda gets caught in a powerline and crashes killing all three on board.



  • 6 July 1960: US Navy ZPG-3W crashed into the sea off New Jersey. 18 of the 21 crew were killed.


  • 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.[18] According to the NTSB report, the cause was poor design. The pilot also had zero hours experience in the type.
  • 1 July 1986: The experimental Helistat 97-34J crashes at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey during a test flight, killing one.


  • 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.[19][20]
  • 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.
  • 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.[21]
  • 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.[22]



  • 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.[23]
  • 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.[24]
  • 4 May 2012: An Israeli spy blimp crashed when a crop duster struck the blimp's side.[25]


  1. ^ H. J. C Harper "Composite History" Flight 1 November 1937
  2. ^
  3. ^ The New York times index – Google Books. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  4. ^ The New York Times, July 16, 1919, Wednesday, Page 1, British Airship Burns with Crew; Twelve Lost When the NS-11 Falls Flaming Into the North Sea.
  5. ^ The New York Times, July 27, 1919, Sunday, Editorial, Page 39, Helium for Flying; Noninflammable Gas May Yet Be Produced in Quantities and at a Cost Suited for Dirigibles.
  6. ^ Loss of N.S.11. Warmsley, N. Retrieved on 5 April 2009.
  7. ^ "Chicago Public Library Archive". Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "A Brief History of the Wingfoot Lake Airship Base". Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  10. ^ The New York Times, July 8, 1921, Friday, Page 1, Big Navy Dirigible Burned in Flight; Flames Destroy the C-3 at Hampton Roads
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Official Site of the U.S. Air Force - History Milestones". Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "Avalanche Press". Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  14. ^ *Report of the R101 Inquiry 1931 HMSO p.7
  15. ^ Check Six (May 2008). "The Crash of Navy Blimp L-8". Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  16. ^ a b 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.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Associated Press, "Blimp Crashes Near Zeppelin Crash Site", Anderson Independent, Anderson, South Carolina, Thursday, October 9, 1980, page 4A.
  19. ^ NTSB Accident report File No. 1036 07/04/1993 NEW YORK, N832US
  20. ^ "New York Times". 5 July 1993. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  21. ^ "Airscene: Commercial Accidents", AIR International, Stamford, Lincs, U.K., September 1998, Volume 55, Number 3, page 142.
  22. ^ NTSB Aviation Accident IAD00LA002
  23. ^ "Blimp pilot dies saving passengers from fiery crash". CNN. June 14, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  24. ^ 
  25. ^ "Israeli spy blimp crashes near Gaza". The Aviationist. May 6, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-28. 
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