back to article Blimp fireball disaster in Germany, Aussie pilot killed

An advertising blimp was destroyed in a ball of fire above Germany on Sunday, killing its pilot. However aircraft captain Mike Nerandzic saved his passengers by ordering them to jump clear as the ship hovered just above the ground. Reportedly the ship, an A-60 blimp operated by the Lightship Group on behalf of Goodyear, was …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Oh, the humanity

  2. Shaun 1

    It's filled with Helium!

    What part of that are you not understanding?

  3. Figgus

    Re: It's filled with Helium!

    At least it wasn't filled with Led.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    What part of "Oh, the humanity" says that the blimp was full of anything but helium?

    Because you are obviously an idiot who mistakes the phrase "Oh, the humanity" for "why are they filling blimps with hydrogen" (it is an easy mistake to make) I'd suggest that you do a search for Herbert Morrison.

  5. AgeingBabyBoomer

    hydrogen/helium irrelevant

    Same problem as downed the Hindenburg.

    Diesel fuel fire ignites fabric skin ->

    airship now rapidly-heading-to-ground-ship

    What part of gravity don't you understand?

  6. Brian Morrison

    Actually, the ignition source.....

    ...on the Hindenburg has been discovered to be a combination of static electricity and the dope/paint on the cover which contained aluminium powder and iron oxide. The static discharged when the landing ropes were dropped (the airship had been delayed in landing due to a thunderstorm near its landing field, so the air was well charged up) and a panel at the rear ignited due to the well known thermite reaction.

    The analysis was done by a NASA engineer, and later on documents were found in the archives at the Zeppelin company where their own analysis said much the thing. This explanation was suppressed on the order of the Nazi party to avoid tarnishing German prestige.

    Appropriate icon applied!

  7. Gianni Straniero

    Re: Actually, the ignition source.....

    I, er, floated that idea on these pages a while back. Went down like a lead balloon, so to speak

  8. Shaun 1

    RE: AC @20:28

    I was making a reference to the "Archer" TV programme, though I was obiously the only one that got the reference

  9. K. Adams

    Unfortunate accident...

    It is unfortunate when any aviation accident takes lives and causes damage; I hope the passengers are OK, and offer condolences to the pilot's family.

    Another unfortunate aspect of this accident is because blimp and airship accidents are so few and far between (from an absolute numbers standpoint, because there are a lot fewer blimps/airships in service than heavier-than-air aircraft), it is likely that people will compare this incident with other notable airship accidents, such as the crashes of the USS Akron (US Navy ZRS-4), USS Macon (US Navy ZRS-5), and, yes, the Hindenburg, thus reinforcing the notion that lighter-than-air craft are inherently more dangerous than their heavier-than-air counterparts.

  10. alexh2o

    More dangerous...

    I don't know any figures, but given the number of heavier-than-air aircraft flying, and their total flying hours, compared to the number of accidents- could you not argue that given there are so few light-than-air aircraft in relation to the number of accidents, they are in fact more dangerous?

  11. K. Adams

    "... couldn't you argue given fewer LTA aircraft vs. number of accidents, they're more dangerous?"

    On a percentage of aggregate flight-hours basis, maybe.

    But after the Akron, Macon, and Hindenburg incidents, interest in LTA aircraft dropped precipitously, before the technology even had a chance to mature. Then World War II came along, which fostered little in the way of LTA vehicle development, except maybe the creation of tethered barrage balloons to protect against nap-of-the-earth attacks. By the end of World War II, heavier-than-air aircraft became the standard method of transporting people and cargo, except in a few niche markets (such as advertising: the Goodyear, FujiFilm, Zurich, and MetLife blimps come quickly to mind).

    So one could argue that lighter-than-air aircraft never got a proper chance to establish themselves as a practical means of transportation, and with such a small relative "sample size," such a comparison may not be scientifically valid.

  12. Peter H. Coffin


    As is usual for airship disasters, most of the people aboard survived the incident. Which... compares favourably to the the results with aeroplanes.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    ... is almost in the job description of flying any man-made contraption. The spirit of adventure and heroism are both well fed (and alive) in the soul of any man that is willing to fly and to become a pilot. Just like firefighters, to name 2 jobs that attract the best of Mankind.

    It was not expected of him (explicitly) to be a hero, yet we covertly expected no less. It would be a surprise if it happened otherwise.

    I'll drink to the fact that we still have brave men among us, despite the fact they get killed when their gallantry can save lives.


  14. Anonymous Coward

    Here, here!

    Three cheers for Captain Nerandzic...

  15. NoneSuch
    Thumb Up

    Heroism and Sacrifice

    Captain Nerandzic will be missed.

  16. nyelvmark


    I seem to remember that helium doesn't occur naturally on earth. And yet these inconsiderate bastards are releasing the damn stuff into the atmosphere. What's that going to do? Are there any known treatments for helium exposure? There aren't, are there?

    How many trillions is the taxpayer's going to have to pay for another cleanup? We'll have to ask Phil Jones (no, not the new Man U defender, the other one).

  17. NoneSuch

    Helium does not occur naturally???

    Atmospheric helium is produced by the decay of radioactive elements in the earth's crust. Alpha decay, a type of radioactive decay, produces alpha particles. Alpha particles can become a helium atom once they capture two electrons from the surroundings. Helium eventually works into the air through the crust and is perfectly natural.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Natural helium

    Can't tell if trolling, or just very stupid.....

  19. nyelvmark
    Black Helicopters

    Helium [...] is perfectly natural.

    Ha! Perfectly natural, you say! But I notice that you carefully avoid answering my question: "Are there any known treatments for Helium exposure"?

  20. Fisher39

    There is a treatment

    Oxygen. Simple eh?

    Helium naturally escapes from the atmosphere because it's so light. It does occur naturally on earth but it doesn't hang around naturally unless it's stored underground. It's a very slippery molecule and will escape from almost anything you put it in.

  21. T.a.f.T.


    Yes, stand upright so that the mouth is above the lungs and take several breaths of clean air. Helium is inert (mostly) but having your lungs full of it means there is no Oxigen in there.

    Mine is the one with Helium in the pockets.

  22. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    A true sacrifice

    It's obvious this gentleman was a true humanitarian, sacrificing himself to save the lives of others. He obviously knew exactly what he was doing, get these people away then try to get the doomed craft away to make sure no one else got hurt or anything else destroyed, even if it cost him his life.

    The most important thing is that lessons are learned, the opportunity is not wasted and this sort of tragedy is not repeated.

  23. Clive Harris
    Thumb Up

    Captain goes down with the ship.

    Sad, but true. That's how it should be, and it's what they teach (or should teach) at flying school. In an emergency, the commander is always the last one off, and, if that means "going down with the ship", then so be it. If he'd jumped, then, firstly, it's possible that some of the passengers might not have had time to get out. Secondly, the burning wreckage could have travelled a lot further before coming down. As it was, it came down in a field, with no other loss of life.

    Having said that, it still takes a lot of courage to do what's required when the crunch comes. We should salute a hero who did his duty to the end. "Greater love has no man ...etc etc". You know the rest.

  24. Oninoshiko

    Let's raise a pint

    for some who's final act was, without even considering his own safety, saving others. I would hope if I where in the same situation, I could display the same bravery.

  25. John Tserkezis


    It has been said, if it were not for the Hindenberg disaster, blimps would have really taken off, both figuratively and literally.

    Somehow I don't think so.

  26. Head


    A tragedy :(

    But Mike Nerandzic averted disaster as much as he possibly could with his quick thinking to avoid the safe fate as his passengers.

    RIP :(

  27. Jasper 1
    Thumb Down


    A man shows incredible bravery and the response from a select few is to use the story for trolling and/or pathetic attempts at humour. You must find the human rights abuse in Libya a real side splitter.

    RIP Mr Nerandzic.

  28. Dr Patrick J R Harkin


    Is this the first time a captain has gone up with his ship?

  29. Winkypop Silver badge

    I know it's wrong...

    ....but I laughed.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    "...All three did so safely, after which the ship ascended rapidly..."

    So, technically, it's the passengers who caused the pilot to be killed. Shame is, heros don't grow old.

  31. Danny 14 Silver badge


    they dont have an emergency helium vent then?

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