Goodyear Blimp Crash in Germany

A Goodyear-branded A-60+ blimp burned and crashed in Germany on Sunday evening in the vicinity of the Reichelsheim airport near Frankfurt.  The ship’s pilot was killed; the three passengers, all journalists, survived the crash.

Goodyear blimp burning in midair

Photo DPA (from http://www.spiegel.de, see link)

Three reliable LTA sources have informed me that the pilot was Australian Mike Nerandzic [photo], who seems to have saved his passengers at the cost of his own life.

It appears the blimp made an emergency descent after the pilot and passengers smelled fuel during the approach to the landing field, and caught fire following a prop strike from one or both engines.  The pilot instructed his passengers to exit the airship to safety; the blimp then climbed rapidly, with the pilot still onboard, from the loss of the passengers’ weight.

Early press reports incorrectly identified the ship involved in the crash as a Zeppelin NT, but it was an A-60+ blimp operated in Europe by The Lightship Group (Lightship Europe Ltd.) under contract to Goodyear.  Goodyear operates its own blimps in the United States.

Goodyear recently announced that it will be replacing its famous blimps with zeppelins beginning in 2014.

The Lightship Group has issued a statement about the accident.

Goodyear Blimp Burning in Midair

Photo DPA (from http://www.spiegel.de, see link)

Media links:

Pilot killed after helping three passengers to make incredible escape (dramatic photos)

Pilot stirbt bei Luftschiff-Absturz (story and photos)

Pilot Dies as Airship Bursts Into Flames (Spiegel Online Inernational, in English)

Drama in Hessen: Zeppelin in Flammen!

Piloot redt passagiers maar komt om bij crash zeppelin

Un zeppelin s’écrase en Allemagne: un mort

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Steve
Steve

Take a look at ‘The Jordan Series Drouge’ as a possible ‘storm tail’ to safely moor such an airship on a mooring mast in heavy weather. I’d bet that something of this sort would have a dramatic impact on its behavior while moored.

T.Ando
T.Ando

From Experience in the field I know for a fact that bigger ships easier to handle than small ships especially when it comes down to whether. I worked on an A-160 Blimp and Apparently they are a dream compared to the A60!

Alex Fulton
Alex Fulton

I was sad to hear of this, I first saw it on youtube. He showed true bravery on that flight. He will be missed by alot of people.

Alex Fulton
Alex Fulton

Anyone know where to get trained for airships? I want to be a pilot when I’m old enough

David
David

I thought older Goodyear blimps had ripcords that could be used to rapidly deflate the envelopes in emergencies. Did this ship not? Would the correct proceedure have been to evacuate the passsenger and then rip ship immediately to avoid uncontolled ascent while in flames?

Dan (Airships.net)

The ripcord is not accessible to the pilot; it must be pulled by the ground crew.

David
David

Thanks for the info.
Tragic.

Joseph Dick

The rip cord is required to be accessible to the pilot. FAA-P-8110-2 “Airship Design Criteria” USDOT/FAA, Section 4.43 “Envelope Design” paragraph (f) states: “Provisions must be provided to permit rapid envelope deflation should the airship break away from the mast during mooring. If the airship is to be left unattended,… Read more »

anon
anon

I worked with Mike many years ago as a ground crewman..he was a really,really nice fella..His bravery makes me feel proud to have ever known him.
I’m truly saddened to hear of his death.

Stuart M
Stuart M

The A-60 and A-60+ both have the same undercarridge with the latter having an increased 100 pound takeoff weight. So even if the pilot was heavy it would be extreamly unlikely that he would be above the A60+ weight. The gear is directly under the fuel tank and always has… Read more »

David Chipping
David Chipping

The fact of the matter is that the Lightship is the most rugged and dependable Airship in service . It has provern itself in just about every theater of operation in the world and providing it is flown within limitations it is certainly one of the safest due to the… Read more »

speculator...
speculator...

Link to detailed photos after the hard landing, looks like the landing broke off, punctured the fuel tank, and then got stuck in the lower rear of the airship frame. Also looks like one of the props is gone. Just a speculation based on the close up pictures of the… Read more »

Tim Wood
Tim Wood

I met Mike a few times at cardington hangars while the two a60,s were being assembled, I liked him straight away he was very approacable, his sense of humour spot on, my sympathies to his family and his crew, and all who met him.
he will not be forgotten.

Littleyankee
Littleyankee

Like the man says Have a Heart the pieces of materials that made up that thing in the sky can be replaced :::::: Need i say more