When it comes to airships, the 1937 Hindenberg disaster naturally comes to mind for most people. However, a lesser known disaster is that of the helium-filled USS Akron, an airship that belonged to the U.S. Navy. Despite a successful maiden voyage in November 1931 and a search exercise in January 1932, the Akron soon encountered numerous difficulties. As the video below shows, in February 1932, the tail came loose from its moorings while the airship was being taken from her hangar during a demonstration and struck the ground.
The airship launched on April 3, 1933, bearing 76 passengers. It never made another flight. The Akron encountered a thunderstorm off the coast of New Jersey while assisting in the calibration of radio direction finder stations along New England:
"Just after midnight on April 4, strong winds hit the Akron hard. It plunged 1000 feet in a matter of seconds, and in order to make it rise again, the crew decided to dump the water ballast. Unfortunately, it was too much, too fast—the crew lost control of the dirigible and the Akron crashed into the ocean, killing all but three passengers. Another airship was sent to help with rescue attempts; it, too, crashed in the strong winds, killing two of the seven crew members."
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