Blimp Pilot Saved Passengers, Died In Fiery Crash, Witnesses Say

Jun 13, 2011

"A Goodyear blimp in Germany caught on fire and crashed on Sunday, killing the pilot while three passengers escaped," The Akron Beacon Journal reports.

And stories from the scene paint a picture of heroism.

As MSNBC writes:

"Photographer Joachim Storch, who was one of the passengers, told Germany's Bild newspaper that the pilot encountered difficulties as he was coming in to land. Storch and the other passengers jumped out of the craft when it was around two meters off the ground. The airship immediately shot upwards, gaining up to 50 meters in height, possibly due to the sudden loss of weight. The survivors then heard the screams of the pilot as the blimp was engulfed in flames."

The pilot, Australian Michael Nerandzic, "yelled for the three passengers to jump from the gondola to safety below," according to The Telegraph of Australia. "That decision reduced the ballast weight of the airship which is believed to have caused it to shoot 50m into the air where it exploded with the burning wreckage falling to the ground. Mr Nerandzic was unable to escape and died in the wreckage."

Germany's BILD filed this video report:

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