Did you know there was an airship disaster off the coast of Atlantic City more than 100 years ago?

No doubt your history classes taught you about the Hindenburg disaster of 1937. The German airship burst into flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey. The disaster was caught on film:

Years earlier, though, another airship burst into flames, right off the coast of Atlantic City.

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The Akron airship crashed shortly after takeoff back in 1912, killing all 5 men aboard. This happened as something like 20,000 people watched on, including the wives and family of the men aboard.

According to news articles sited by blimpinfo.com, the Akron exploded only about 1,000 feet in the air, just off the coast. At least one of the bodies was recovered by members of the Briganine Beach Patrol.

From the Grand Rapids Tribune, quoted by blimpinfo.com:

"Like a blazing meteorite the burning balloon dashed earthward, emitting clouds of black smoke. It fell upon Brigantine Beach and rescuers who dashed two miles across the inlet were unable to give any help."

Melvin Vaniman was the commander of the airship. He and his crew was trying to cross the Atlantic in the Goodyear-built airship. This was Vaniman's second Trans-Atlantic crossing attempt. A 1910 attempt ended, according to Wikipedia, when the ship's motor died and it fell to the sea and floated until the ship and crew were rescued by a passing boat.

Interesting, there was another Akron airship - and it too crashed in a disaster. This one crashed in 1933 into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after passing over Barnegat Light. 73 died, but 3 survived.

Maybe it's a good idea to keep airships and blimps away from New Jersey...

SOURCES: BlimpInfo.com and Wikipedia.

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