Great Balls of Fire

The airship has had a long history of spectacular mishaps.

On August 24, 1921, the British R 38 (at the time the world’s largest airship) was in the midst of its fourth flying test when the hull snapped in half during a series of high-speed turns. The front two-thirds exploded and fell into a river while the rear third fell to the ground. 

On September 3, 1925, the helium-filled Shenandoah encountered severe turbulence and broke into three pieces, one of them rising 8,000 feet before spiraling to the ground. 

On February 22, 1932, the Akron broke free from its mooring while being undocked at Lakehurst, New Jersey, and its tail fin repeatedly smashed into the ground causing extensive damage. On April 3, 1933, the Akron encountered thunderstorms and severe turbulence off the coast of New Jersey, causing it to crash in the Atlantic Ocean. On February 12, 1935, its sister ship, the Macon, crashed into the sea off the coast of California after being adversely impacted by severe weather. 

On August 25, 1927, the U.S. Navy training ship Los Angeles was moored at the mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey, when a strong breeze lifted its tail dramatically. The cooler air at the slightly higher altitude exacerbated the problem until the vessel was in a comical-looking near vertical position, standing straight up on its nose. 

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The Hindenburg