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.
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.
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)