Hydrogen Airship Disasters

Dozens of hydrogen airships exploded or burned in the years before before the Hindenburg disaster finally convinced the world that hydrogen is not an acceptable lifting-gas for airships carrying people.

The following is a partial list of hydrogen-inflated airships that were destroyed by fire from accidental causes (the list does not include ships shot down in combat operations):

  • LZ-4 (August 5, 1908)
  • LZ-6 (September 14, 1910)
  • LZ-12/Z-III (June 17, 1912)
  • LZ-10 Schwaben (June 28, 1912)
  • Akron (July 2, 1912)
  • LZ-18/L-2 (October 17, 1913)
  • LZ-30/Z-XI (May 20, 1915)
  • LZ-40/L-10 (September 3, 1915)
  • SL-6 (November 10, 1915)
  • LZ-52/L-18 (November 17, 1915)
  • LZ-31/L-6 and LZ-36/L-9 (September 16, 1916)
  • LZ-53/L-17 and LZ-69/L-24 (December 28, 1916)
  • SL-9 (March 30, 1917)
  • LZ-102/L-57 (October 7, 1917)
  • LZ-87/LZ-117, LZ-94/L-46, LZ-97/L-51, and LZ-105/L-58 (January 5, 1918)
  • LZ-104/L-59 (April 7, 1918)
  • Wingfoot Air Express (July 21, 1919)
  • R-38/ZR-II (August 23, 1921)
  • Roma (February 21, 1922)
  • Dixmude (December 21, 1923)
  • R101 (October 5, 1930)
  • LZ-129 Hindenburg (May 6, 1937)

Description of the Accidents

LZ-4 (August 5, 1908)

After an emergency landing near Echterdingen, Germany, LZ-4 was was torn from its temporary mooring by a gust of wind and ignited after hitting a stand of trees.

Burned wreckage of LZ-4 near Echterdingen

LZ-6 (September 14, 1910)

LZ-6, owned by the world’s first passenger airline, DELAG, was destroyed at Baden-Oos by a hydrogen fire which began when a mechanic used petrol to clean the ship’s gondola.

LZ-12/Z-III (June 17, 1912)

LZ-12 ignited and burned in its hangar at Friedrichshafen while being deflated.

LZ-10 Schwaben (June 28, 1912)

The passenger airship Schwaben was destroyed by fire at the airship field at Düsseldorf when its hydrogen was ignited by static electricity from the ship’s rubberized fabric gas cells.

Wreck of LZ-10 Schwaben at Düsseldorf

Akron (July 2, 1912)

Melvin Vaniman’s airship Akron exploded 15 minutes after departing Atlantic City, New Jersey, during an attempt to cross the Atlantic.

LZ-18/L-2 (October 17, 1913)

An in-flight engine fire ignited the ship’s hydrogen, killing all aboard.

LZ-30/Z-XI (May 20, 1915)

The ship broke away from its ground crew after being damaged during removal from its hangar; it crashed nearby and was destroyed when its hydrogen ignited.

LZ-40/L-10 (September 3, 1915)

L-10 was destroyed by a hydrogen fire during a thunderstorm near Cuxhaven as it was returning to its base at Nordholz.  It is likely the ship rose in an updraft and released hydrogen which was ignited by the atmospheric conditions.  All 19 members of the crew were killed.

SL-6 (November 10, 1915)

SL-6 exploded and burned on takeoff, killing all aboard.

LZ-52/L-18 (November 17, 1915)

The ship caught fire and was destroyed while being refilled with hydrogen at the zeppelin base at Tønder.

LZ-31/L-6 and LZ-36/L-9 (September 16, 1916)

Both ships were destroyed by fire in their hangar at Fuhlsbüttel when hydrogen was ignited during refilling operations.

LZ-53/L-17 and LZ-69/L-24 (December 28, 1916)

While L-24 was being returned to the shed it shared with L-17 at Tønder, a gust of wind lifted the ship into the roof of the shed; a light bulb ignited a hydrogen fire which destroyed both ships.

SL-9 (March 30, 1917)

SL-9 burned after being struck by lightning in flight over the Baltic, killing all 23 persons aboard.

LZ-102/L-57 (October 7, 1917)

L-57 burned in its shed at the airship base of Niedergörsdorf–Jüterbog after being damaged by high winds during docking operations.

LZ-87/LZ-117, LZ-94/L-46, LZ-97/L-51, and LZ-105/L-58 (January 5, 1918)

An explosion at the zeppelin base at Ahlhorn ignited the hydrogen of all four ships.

LZ-104/L-59 (April 7, 1918)

L-59 exploded in flight and crashed at sea near Malta, killing all 21 members of the crew.  L-59 was the famous “Africa Ship” which proved the feasibility of intercontinental zeppelin travel by carrying 15 tons of cargo and 22 persons on a record-breaking 4,225 mile flight during a military relief mission to German East Africa in November, 1917.

Wingfoot Air Express (July 21, 1919)

Goodyear’s Wingfoot Air Express ignited in mid-air and crashed through the skylight of the Illinois Trust & Savings Building in Chicago, Illinois, killing three persons on the ship and ten bank employees and injuring another 27 people.  All subsequent Goodyear airships were inflated with helium.

R-38/ZR-II (August 23, 1921)

The British-built R-38 (intended to serve as the United State Navy airship ZR-II) suffered in-flight structural failure over the city of Hull, England and crashed into the River Humber where it ignited, killing 44 of the 49 men aboard.

Roma (February 21, 1922)

The United States Army airship Roma (built by Umberto Nobile) ignited when it hit high-tension electrical wires near Langley Field at Hampton Roads, Virginia, killing 34 of the ship’s 45 crew members.  After the Roma disaster the United States government decided never again to inflate an airship with hydrogen.

Dixmude (December 21, 1923)

The French-operated Dixmude was destroyed over the Mediterranean Sea near the coast of Sicily by a hydrogen explosion visible from miles away.  Dixmude’s gas cells had apparently been contaminated with air, creating an explosive mixture, and the ship may have been lifted by updrafts in a thunderstorm, causing hydrogen to be vented and then ignited by the electrically charged atmosphere.

R101 (October 5, 1930)

The poorly-designed British R101 lost altitude and sank into a hillside near Beauvais, France.  The impact was slight and caused few if any injuries, but the ship’s hydrogen ignited and the ensuing inferno killed 48 of the 55 passengers and crew.

Wreckage of R101

LZ-129 Hindenburg (May 6, 1937)

Hindenburg was destroyed by a hydrogen fire at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station.

Hindenburg Burning at Lakehurst, New Jersey

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

allen meece July 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm

It’s not ALL about H2 or He. Let’s not forget CH4, methane. Half as buoyant as He and a third more buoyant than hot air, it is the champion of the middle ground of airship lift gas.

It’s flammable but much less so the H2. Its flammability range is one third of H2.

Plus, the lesser permeability of its large molecule will enable the use of a cheaper plastic film for containment. Cost of a multi layered container is a huge drawback to using H2 for personal airships.

So, its an all around winner for airship lift gas I believe.

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Wesley Johnson January 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I am also doing a report on the Roma and the US military zeppelin program for my 8th grade independent study because of my great great grandfather.

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judie louden September 24, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I am trying to locate info on the flight crew of the Roma. I very close friend of ours, Alberto Flores was one of the few who survived the crash. he died in 1988 at the age of 91.

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Joshua Sheppard June 27, 2014 at 9:12 am

Judie,

My wife is currently writing a book on ROMA, she would be more than happy to share any information that she has (which is quite extensive). She is having some difficulty with information regarding Alberto Flores after the crash so if you have any personal stories etc… I know that she would be eternally grateful. If anything, I know that she would be very interested in speaking with you about ROMA.

Best,

Joshua D. Sheppard

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Wesley Johnson January 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm

My great, great grandfather William O’loughlin was a civilian engineer working on the Roma’s six liberty engines when she went down. My family and I still regard him as a hero.

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Fred J March 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

And the rest of the world regards him as an idiot.

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Antony September 12, 2013 at 2:40 am

This comment is insensitive and uncalled for.

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sandra February 26, 2014 at 1:11 am

This is someones gggrandfather. Who are you to judge him? This man was part of history. What have you done in your lifetime that will be written about 100 years later? NOTHING I’M SURE…..be a man and remove this. Or continue being a pos and leave it up….maybe that can be your life legacy you moron.

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Dan March 1, 2014 at 9:01 am

I just noticed Fred’s comment and was tempted to delete it, but Antony and Sandra did such a good job with it that I will leave it up; maybe it will make Fred think twice about posting things like this in future.

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Pete Needham March 14, 2014 at 9:35 am

I commend you for doing so. My pet peeve is moderator/censors. The huge majority of them are capricious in the extreme.

Trolls on websites merely display their own stupidities. By troll, I do NOT mean someone who merely disagrees with the status quo, as some do.

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Ryan March 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm

It wasn’t the engines that caused it to catch fire dumbass

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tim December 15, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Mr.Carvallo you’re a jackass

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John October 29, 2012 at 8:18 am

Akron was not inflated with hydrogen

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victor May 1, 2013 at 1:49 pm

i think it was filled with hydrogen

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Antony September 12, 2013 at 2:39 am

The Akron was inflated with helium

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doug October 20, 2013 at 12:20 am

The Akron referred to here is the airship Melvin Vaniman flew in 1912.

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Pete Needham March 14, 2014 at 9:32 am

Different Akron…the first one blew up in 1912. The second one, the USS Akron, helium filled, has the dubious distinction of having the worst loss of life of any airship when it was lost in a storm off New Jersey in 1933.

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Jeff Green August 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Hydrogen is in a flammabilty class by itself. Jet fuel, which is less easily ignited than gasoline, is practically inert when compared to hydrogen.

And, besides, the hindenberg blew up after hitting an iceberg. It was the Titanic that burned at Lakehurst. Do try to get the facts right.

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jimmy kraktov May 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm

You are just trying to be funny, right? We all know that the Titanic was an ocean going passenger ship. No one has ever thought otherwise. If you are in fact serious, you desperately need help.

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James Parker August 3, 2012 at 9:18 am

James, I am also a LTA enthusiast and I read this line of comments. I don’t know if this sight is something that you pay attention to anymore. I believe that there is now a solution to the combustible issue with hydrogen. Look into something called a hydrino. It is hydrogen thats electron orbit has been collapsed below the ground state. This used to be thought impossible but new research is proving it to be factual. Currently the hydrino is a byproduct of a power generation process. Liberating the energy to collapse the electron orbit does just that, liberates energy, the process is the main focus of the company developing it, not the byproduct lifting gas. The cool thing about this new state of hydrogen is that it no longer combines with oxygen. NO MORE FIRE. The lifting capability of the hydrogen is also increased inversely proportional to shrink of the electron orbit. Exciting stuff for the return of the airship. Please feel free to contact me, I would love to look into this further and get involved with trying to explore the possibilities. Plus it would be nice to bounce ideas off of someone who isn’t afraid of hydrogen.

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Andrew B. Middleton December 26, 2012 at 7:44 am

James,
At last, someone has done some serious study of hydrogen which increases its lifting capacity, and greatly reduces its flamability. Strange that it has had such a bad press since the Hindenberg disaster, but people all over the world take flights on modern fuel filled jet airliners that crash every day. I don’t pretend to understand the properties of the hydrino, but it seems very promising indeed. I’d board a hydrogen airship to fly from east to west across Australia if one was available.
Regards,
Andrew B. Middleton
Beechworth, Victoria
Australia.

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James Parker January 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

Thanks for the reply Andrew, I took a few Aerospace Engineering classes as electives while in college and was curious about the lack of information on LTA vehicles, so I researched the details myself. In the future I plan to do something about this and try to play Lazarus with a technology that seems to have gone dormant. It’s a hobby right now, but one of the things that I still get very passionate about. The company responsible, is up to nearly six independant verifications of their process which is very encouraging.

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Tony June 2, 2011 at 7:39 am

All aircraft are dangerous to an extent and require a safety case that demonstrates that all hazards are identified. The safety case must demonstrate that risks are tolerable (against established criteria) and that engineering has been applied to reduce risk as low as reasonably practicable. That doesn’t mean that there will never be accidents, but those accidents should be sufficiently rare that the risk of death to an average passenger is small compared to other risks that they face in life.

A modern hydrogen airship would need to go through the same process. Before the ship could be licenced, the vendour would need to produce a safety case, accompanied by a probabilistic safety justification. If you cannot demonstrate that risks are sufficiently low, then the ship will not be licenced to fly.

If you are using hydrogen as a lifting gas, it may be discovered that the required level of engineering required to achieve tolerable risk is too expensive. Maybe not. But its the short of question that can only be answered with analysis.

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Ian March 22, 2011 at 7:12 am

I think arguing over whether hydrogen was safe in airships 70+ years ago is ludicrous. It clearly wasn’t. However arguing against whether or not hydrogen would be a safe lifting gas now in an LTA is something else again. Essentially puncture proof – self sealing bags, ground avoidance radar, flame retardant materials, structures which do not fail, fly by wire instrumentation.

Then there is the nature of hydrogen itself. It is derived from abundant water unlike helium. Problems with transporting it seem strange when one considers the possibilities of it transporting itself. Unlike oil it won’t wash up on a Louisana beach mixed with dispersant and start killing folk. It’s not a greenhouse gas but when combusted produces water, which could be useful in certain parts of the world.

The possibilities associated with taking advantage of its many useful properties seem limited only by our imagination.

Surely there is a future for hydrogen as a flotation gas?

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Stu March 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm

There is!
Hydrogen in it’s pure form, in an environment devoid of oxygen won’t support combustion. The thing that faulted the early airships was the issue of maintaining the purity of the hydrogen in the gas cells. Cells then were made of linen lined with goldbeater’s skin (cow intestine lining). The cells were stitched together and over time, the lining’s gave way, and the cells began to allow more air in creating a very explosive mixture.
With today’s impermeable plastic films, a gas cell could be made virtually gas tight, and therefore perfectly safe. The underlying danger would be if for any reason, that cell were to be torn, punctured or leak from physical damage of any kind, the hydrogen would leak out, or let air in to create a very dangerous mixture.
If you were to look at jet liners which are basically flying gas cans filled with tons of highly explosive fuel, you wouldn’t dare board one for take off when they are at their heaviest and most vulnerable. Look at what happened to the Concorde in Paris years ago. Just a 10″ piece of scrap metal created a chain of events that lead to a nightmarish disaster that her pilots could not overcome. There was no time to dump the volatile fuel before it crashed into a hotel and burst into flames.
If the issue of gas containment can be overcome, hydrogen is perfectly feasible and clean to manufacture and use. Plus it’s relatively inexpensive compared to helium.

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Frank February 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Do you know if the Russian airship V6 OSOAVIAKhIM crashed with fire? There’s not a lot of information on the crash except that it struck the mountain…

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Steve January 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm

No one actually has an issue with the safety of Hydrogen. It is a flamable gas and everyone knows that. What people do have an issue with is the fact that your article quite effectively demonises the use of Hydrogen in a modern air ship. Like you said “Nothing will ever be safe”. Safety is not the only consideration when it comes to transport, it is not even the main one. Even a train on rails can go off the tracks. You keep agreeing that Hydrogen is a valid lift gas then go back to the horror stories. Fact is no matter what safety measures are in place there will always be risk in any type of transportation. Any blogger can put an article in place showing how many boeings and other types of aircraft have crashed over the years killing thousands. Will not stop more planes being built. Why the problem with Hydrogen gas? The Titanic was not the only ship that sunk, do not see people boycotting cruiseliners.

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Dan (Airships.net) January 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Your analogy to Boeings and the Titanic do not hold up because there are no practical replacements for modern jetliners (nor were there practical replacements for ocean liners); as a result, the choice is between accepting the [tiny] risk associated with modern jetliners or having no means at all to travel at those speeds. But airships DO have a practical replacement for hydrogen, so there is no justification for the risks of using hydrogen; put another way, the small benefits of hydrogen do not come close to outweighing its risks when there is a safe replacement (helium).

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Kimball April 30, 2011 at 3:16 am

I would love to see helium airships come into their own. In fact if i won the lottery i would either invest in a current airship line or start my own. I think the problem is that we are running out of helium. and we have no realistic way of creating more. I personally believe that with modern technology we can make a “safe” helium powered airship again. I of course use safe in quotations because it is a very flammable gas, but as others have stated, you cant move around without some risk of explosion :D

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Alaye Karibi-Whyte June 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Dear Sir,

Helium is definitely going out and that seems to be a measure problem. I will be glad if you can forward to my email articles concerning the hydrogen airship disasters and anything you have that can be helpful to my research on Hydrogen and helium flammability with air.

Thank you,
Alaye C. Karibi-Whyte.
(papakaribi@yahoo.com)

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Daniel Geery December 10, 2010 at 8:53 am

Dear James, I am a fan of hydrogen for several reasons: 1) it is renewable; 2) it costs less than helium; 3) it has more lift. Also, in my case we are working with remote airships, http://www.hyperblimp.com.

I’d like to correspond a bit with you personally, if you are so inclined. My email is dgeery@gmail.com–shoot me yours and I’ll get back with some questions.

I do need to go back and read your posts more carefully, but the topic of hydrogen safety is extremely high on my mind. Public perception seems to be the largest problem for what I see as inevitable–LAAs filled with helium.

Thanks! Daniel Geery

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James Yarger December 3, 2010 at 3:45 am

Thanks for the historic correction. I’m well aware of airship history, if fact I think your wrong about the distance that the nose section was in free flight on the Shenandoah, if you look at google maps, I’ve marked the location of where according the photos from the book on the Shenandoah both piece landed on the same farm in Southern Ohio, maybe you can correct that since your reading from the book I haven’t pick up in a while.
There is only so much helium in the world Francisco, and that is a scientific fact.
How about you pull you head out your helium bag a look around at the possibilities modern engineering and materials have to offer before you go defending the same old “oh the huge manatee” story about how hydrogen is too dangerous to be used as a lifting gas.
Helium is fine for proof of concept, and it is actually cheap by $6.00 for a 150 cylinder than hydrogen. Your statement about it being found by new oil wells “every time” sound a lot like another friend of mines ramblings, are sure your not writing under a pen name JB?
The story of hydrogen and airships goes back to the origins of both my friend, 1783 in fact in Dec. marked mans first escape from gravity with hydrogen. If you want to say that hydrogen is too dangerous as a lifting gas, than you should never fly in a commercial airliner or drive a car, cause get what? they both run on “hydro-carbons” which is hydrogen bonded to dinosaur dodo. Only when tanks of those burst everything burns up. In fact in any of the cases mentioned above, again the hydrogen would have been gone is seconds. What really killed those people was the diesel fires and flammable materials, like ox guts used to make the gas bags. . .
It’s 2010, not 1937 no one uses “gold beater skins” for gas bags. I had a career in the Navy in aviation we have a lot of lessons learned in safety that guys like the “Bull” didn’t have on the Shenandoah. Like radar. Using materials available today right now you can safely use hydrogen as a lifting gas, the dual haul design is a great idea.
At the end of the day, when all is said and done its airship that lose when articles like this get published. Making hydrogen a demon, hurts airships and arguing that it can’t be a “safe” lifting gas cuts off a large part of the world from taking part in airships, or maybe BP should do some more deep water drilling, since “every time” we drill for oil, helium is found that is a lye 007.

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Francisco Carvallo December 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Mr. Yarger,
The Shenandoah’s nose did fly close to 1 hour after the rest of the ship had broken off and fallen from the sky, it did fly 6 miles apart, so the distance was incorrect on my part. I did post several comments on yahoo a few weeks ago about those “deriding” airships and singing paraises of heavier than air transport, which have killed hundreds of thousands through the years due to accidents and not the 25 (plus one ground crew) for the Hindenburg tragedy.I hate flying due to that and rarely do it without praying before, during and after the flight! I volunteer fro the Moffett Field Historical Society and we have in our posession an original engine telegraph from the shenandoah, it would have been a pile of ashes inside an urn if the ship had been inflated with hydrogen. As an example I will pass along a bit of information from histgoric aviation website on the R-101 tragedy:
“The Captain then rang the order for all engines to reduce speed from the original cruising speed, if not to stop them. The bells were heard and acted on by the crew as evidence of the survivors confirmed. The Chief Coxswain, Hunt, moved aft from the control car and to the crews quarters. At this point he passed crew member Disley, and warned by saying “We’re down lads”. This famous comment by one of the most experienced airship crew members can be seen that the R101 at this point was not going to be able to continue with it’s existing difficulties, and that an executive decision had been made to put the ship in to emergency landing stations.

Just after this point the ship moved in to a second dive. It is calculated that at this point the R101 was now only at about a height of some 530 feet which for a vessel of 777ft long was a precarious one, and so any rapid oscillation of the ship, which had already occurred, would have caused it to fail. Rigger Church was ordered to release the emergency ballast from the nose of the ship and was on the way to the mooring platform when he felt the angle of the ship begin to dip once more from an even keel. The ship began to drop again through a downward angle and at this point the nose impacted with the ground. Evidence from the official inquiry noted that the R101′s ground speed had reduced to almost that of a perfect landing. The impact of the R101 with the ground was very gentle, and it was noted that the forward speed of the ship was only 13.8 mph. The ship bounced slightly moving forward some 60ft and then settled down to the ground. The survivors recall that a “crunch” was heard and the the ship levelled. There was no violent jarring from the impact. Evidence following the crash confirms this as the only impact markings in the ground were a 2ft deep by 9ft long groove which was cut by the nose cone. Soil was later found in the nose cone. Also the starboard forward engine had struck the ground with the propeller still revolving and grooves were made by this, and the engine car had been twisted completely around on it’s struts.

After the impact, the fire broke out. The most probably cause of this is the starboard engine car was twisted around and thus hot engine which came in to contact with the free gas from the rents in the forward gas bags. The fire immediately consumed the ship causing each gasbag from the forward to after part of the ship to explode. The force of the explosions was noted by the position of the gas valves and the damage to the framework of the ship. The outer cover was immediately consumed in the ensuing inferno.

Of the crew and passengers only 8 men were able to escape from the wreck. ”
The accident in itself was many hundreds of times less severe than the Shenandoah’s, but again the Hydrogen TRAPPED inside the envelope detonated and killed most everyone still inside the ship. Again your argument on hydrogen “floating away” inside a sealed envelope designed to keep it inside holds little merit. On the resources comment, since the earth is not infinitely large, all of our resources are limited, unless you tear chunks off from the moon and bring them to earth. As long as ther is oil exploration, natural gas Helium will form a part of that. If you’re so secure in your belief that hydrogen is so safe i recommend a following experiment: (1)go to your local university and request some hydrogen (2) purchase a balloon (3) paint it with some flame retardant (3) purchase some cigarretes and light one up (4) bring the hydrogen inflated-flame reatardant-infused ballon to within 2 inches of your face while holding the lit cigarrete in your mouth (you don’t have to inhale the smoke, I’m an avid anti-smoker myself!). Let us all know the results after your reconstructive face surgery takes place and I’m sure Dan, myself and all the others who follow common sense and scientific facts will apologize to (what’s left of) your face.
Francisco

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James Yarger December 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Put your mouth on the tail pile of your car and take a deep breath. Myself and the rest humanity will be sad to see you go.
Now that would not make common sense would it? Of course not, you could do that if the engine was burning hydrogen.
Hydrogen can be used safely. As I said before, like your flame “retarded” balloon modern gas bags are made of modern materials. No wait, no one is even making celled gas chambers like the ones used on ridged airship any more. Because there are none! Unless you count the lovely Eureka, but she is only semi-ridge. None the less, if some where making gas bags again. I don’t think they’d be using Ox gutts.
What makes all of the aircraft mishaps talked about in this article, and that you bring up a disasters is if we don’t move past them, taking the lessions learned in blood and putting them in black and white safety practices, are you familiar with NATOP’s? I bet you are, well same rules should apply.
We have materials and manufacturing processes today that would have seemed like science fiction Admiral Moffett, god rest his soul. He would be ashamed that we have let his vision of airships slip into nothing more than dusty news clippings and the idle chatter a few old men gathered around a confrence table in one of the shed building out side the Hangar at NAS Sunnydale.
I’ll drop by and bring you some Hobee’s coffee cake the next time I’m down there.
Cheers to you Fransico, Airships Up!

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Francisco Carvallo December 3, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Thank you for making all my points valid! Once people like politicians start making personal attacks, we know their so called “factual arguments” are out the window. You’re off base: I never argued with you that Hydrogen is not a valid lifting gas (it is) I’m perplexed why you ccontinue to state that Hydrogen is “safe”, and please don’t lecture me about the Eureka, I see it every time when it takes off from Hangar Two, right besides the field from Hangar One’s lovely shadow. As the great philosopher/comedian Dennis Miller would say:” Thank you for providing me with as much Hemp as a 1930′s Chinese hemp house, with hyper workers, while high on uppers, drinking while drinking Starbucks Double Grandes, as your arguements provided enough rope for which to hang yourself with.. repeatedly”. I’m done arguing. Thank you for confusing my valid points with your arrogant, baseless arguements. I was being facetious before, as I thought you brought some valid (if utterly misguided comments) but I’ve come to the conclussion that you’re a complete and utter waste of my time. I’d rather be a Helium Head, over a Hydrogen Bomb any-day Pal!!
Calm down and contribute something worthwile to these forums for a change!!
Francisco

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James Yarger December 4, 2010 at 5:03 am

I’m no “politician”, just a VP Navy vet, probably the same as you, maybe a little younger but none the less a fan of LTA’s.
You basically told me to blow my face off and your telling me to calm down? I am cool a cucumber.
I started learning about alternatives to petroleum after I did two deployment to Persian Gulf in the early 90′s, which is part of what brought me back to being interested in and studying the design of airships for the last decade. I’ve been in design school for the last 3.5 years studying materials, manufacturing processes, and sustainability.
My argument in favor of hydrogen is not baseless, hydrogen safety no different than the precautions you have to take in filling your car with gas, or working with natural gas. Along as your not putting it in a rubber balloon next to your face, or in ox guts it can be used safely. Edison broke 5,000 bulbs before getting his one Eureka moment. Where would we be if we allowed the same number of heavier than air, aircraft mishaps mention above to stop us from getting to the moon?
Hydrogen and airships share a common history, and a singular event vanquished them both to obscurity. The misinformation and myths that have grown out of that event have left the vast majority of Americans ignorant, and commonly fearful of both airships and hydrogen. No less than three generations of engineers have been raised hearing, “oh the humanity”. It is my believe that both have promise for our nations future, and only when we move past the repeated regurgitation of the events mentioned in this article will we see the true potential of both.
I hope the historical society gets to move back into hangar one someday, along with some airships, no matter what gas is lifting them.
Peace,
~James Yarger

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Francisco Carvallo December 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

Mr. Yarger,

You did tell me about life ending and Lying, that set me off, so sorry about being defensive. I never argued about modern Hydrigen not having possibilities as a lifting gas, however, you blowing off hydrogen (unintended pun) as being safe, I belive, does dishonor to all of the men ( and womwn) who died in the horrendous accidents due to hydrogen combusting. There’s a big difference between lightbulbs and airships: lightbulbs break and we move forward to prototype #2, airships/Hydrogen cells blow up and people end up dying. Nothing ever will be “safe”. I should know, in 1995 my 1987 Nissan Stanza caught engine fire while I was driving (likely due to that #$@!$ fuel additive MTBE, which likely ate the rubber fuel line, but that’s another story….) I almost didn’t get out alive, so sorry if I seem to be abit defensive about “explosive” situations.
Peace as well!!!
Francisco
Francisco

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James Yarger November 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

How many ridged airships, besides the Akron and Macon were even made after the Hindenburg? To my knowledge they were the only ones made. How about a list for helium filled airship “disasters”? Not going to be a long list, not because helium fill craft don’t fall, American Blimp Corp had one go down over New York in the 90′s. The list of helium “disasters” won’t be that long because airships were put on the shelf after the Hindenburg. Less airships have been built since the Hindenburg than before, primarily because helium is expensive and hard to come by in most of the world.
I find it funny, that so much is made in your articles about how dangerous hydrogen is when you consider the fact that the hydrogen in all of these case would have been completely dispersed with in a minute tops. So the other materials and heavy fuels that caught fire are truly to blame for the fires. In all cases human error is the main reason for the mishaps.
Eighty years of material and hazardous materials handling knowledge, along with advances in design warrant a second chance for hydrogen as a lifting gas. In your last post about the Hindenburg and Hydrogen, you lay out some pretty compelling numbers about the benefits of hydrogen as a lifting gas.
Something to consider, think of the volume of liquid hydrogen that NASA uses for the Space Shuttle 53,488 cubic feet will make 45,357,824 cubic feet of hydrogen gas. The actual Shuttle weighs 181,218 lbs. The useful lift of all that hydrogen put into a gaseous state, 3,175,047.68 lbs. If the space shuttle used all that hydrogen as a lifting gas in a lift envelope it could lift its own weight 17 time!
To not see the potential usefulness of hydrogen as a future lifting gas is ludicrous.

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Francisco Carvallo December 2, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Mr. Yarger,
I do encourage you to read up on history of airships before making sweeping coments as the one you made above. Both the Akron/Macon sisters ships were made years before the Hindenburg: The Akron was finsished in 1931, the macon 1933, so the Hindenburg which was completed in 1936 came after those ships had come and gone. The Shenandoah, which was the first rigid inflated by Helium, had a 2 year career staring in 1923. It broke up during a horrendous squall in 1925. the ship fell and the aft section fell. All of the 14 casualties were due to the engine cars & control cabin becoming unattached from the main body and the people died because of inpact. The nose flew 12 miles for an hour before venting Helium made the ship make a bumpy landing atop a farm house. The ship wouldhave likely exploded due to the conditions listed above had it been carrying Hydrogen. The Macon/Akron had operator error + structural failure as the cause for them going down. The USS Los Angeles Had an operational career from 1924-1932 and was finally broken up for scrap in 1939 without any mishap using Helium. No USS ships EVER had a proven functional failure due to Helium since after the Roma semi-rigid broke up. By the Way, the last rigid airship ever made ws the Graff Zeppelin II, the Hindenburgs sister ship whic NEVER carried a paying passanger (due to her also being inflated with Hydrogen) and was mainly used as a spy/experimentation ship before being sestroyed by the Nazi’s along it’s original namesake in 1940. Please read up on the history of these ships before succumbing to the “Hydrogen is Safe” argument. Granted, using today’s technology it would likely be possible to use Hydrogen as a lifting gas more safely, but it’ll never be a “safe” lifting gas. The hindenburg originally had a “dual” gas cell design which would have a larger gas bag filled with Helium surrounding a Hydrogen cell to keep the highly flamable Hydrogen surrounded by the inert Helium. Helium is a lot cheaper today due to oil exploration which yields it every time oil is drilled.
Francisco

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