BOAC Flight 777

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On June 1,1943 the BOAC Flight 777,a scheduled British Overseas Airways Corporation civilian airline flight from Portela Airport in Lisbon, Portugal to Whitchurch Airport near Bristol, England.The Douglas DC-3 serving the flight was attacked by eight German Junkers Ju 88 fighter planes and crashed into the Bay of Biscay, killing all 17 on board.

BOAC was a temporary wartime consortium of prewar airlines including British Airways and KLM.

Although it was a civilian flight it was not that uncommon that Civilian flights were attacked during the war. But what makes this attack special is some of the passengers on board.

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I will only go into more detail of 2 of the passnegers.

Leslie Howard

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Leslie Howard was a leading actor and figure  in the British film industry, and in Hollywood. Famous for his roles in  The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) and Gone with the Wind (1939). He was also involved in making and promoting pro-Allied films such as Pimpernel Smith (1941) and propaganda.  That’s what he  actually was was doing in Portugal, having been invited there by the British government to promote a film called The Lamp Still Burns.

Wilfrid Israel

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Wilfrid Israel was a German-born Jew  WHO helped tens of thousands of Jews, many of them children, escape Germany during the Holocaust. He had played a significant role in the Kindertransport.

On 26 March 1943, he left Britain for Portugal and spent two months investigating the situation of Jews in Spain and Portugal; he found as many as 1,500 Jewish refugees in Spain, many of whom he aided in obtaining Palestine certificates and he proposed a plan to the British government to aid them.

The flight took off from Lisbon at 7:35 AM, five minutes late due to the late delivery of a package to Leslie Howard. A bit more than three hours later, over the Bay of Biscay, eight eight German Junkers Ju 88s appeared and began firing at the DC-3. The Dutch pilot radioed the ground that he was being followed by “strange aircraft” and then that cannon tracers and shells were ripping through the fuselage. His last words were, “Wave-hopping and doing my best.” One of the plane’s engines was severely damaged in the first salvo.

REPORT

There had been a few theories to why the Luftwaffe had attacked the flight. The most popular theory surrounding the downing of BOAC Flight 777 is that German intelligence mistakenly believed Winston Churchill was on the flight.

But there were also theories that Leslie Howard and Wilfrid Israel had been the intended targets. However the German pilots deny that they had any knowledge about the passengers on board and had actually thought it was a military plane.

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Sources

RAF

WWII Forums

IMDb

 

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The bombing of a florist shop that inadvertently caused the death of 583

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On this day  42 years ago, at Tenerife-North Airport (formerly Los Rodeos), two Boeing 747’s – one KLM, the other  Pan Am – crashed on a foggy runway. 583 people were killed in what remains the biggest air disaster in history.

Neither of the planed were supposed to be there, they had both been diverted after a terrorist incident at Gran Canaria Airport,

The Canary Islands Independence Movement (CIIM), also known as the Movement for the Independence and Self-determination of the Canaries Archipelago is a defunct independent movement organization that had a radio station in Algiers and resorted to violence in attempts to force the Spanish government to create an independent state in the Canary Islands.

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CIIM terrorists bombed a florist shop in Las Palmas Airport on 27 March 1977, seriously injuring 8 people. Members then threatened to explode a second bomb in the airport, forcing police to shut down air traffic while they searched for the bomb.A small bomb was  detonated in the Canary Islands Airport, Spain only injuring one person.

However because of this all flights flying in to the Las Palmas Airport.

KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736 had both been redirected to Tenerife.Both of the 747′ s a were charters. Pan Am had come from Los Angeles, after a stopover in New York,  And the KLM boeing from its home base in Amsterdam.

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The two aircrafts were then both on the third runway when the incident occurred. The two flights both taxied onto the runway, with the KLM plane told to hold their position with the Pan Am flight told to follow.

The incident then occurred after the KLM flight took off without proper clearance from the airport.

It wasn’t the only problem, as the Pan Am flight also missed the turning off the runway after mistaking the exit C4 for exit C3 in the foggy conditionsThe KLM flight started to take off despite the runway not being clear and was unable to see the Pan Am flight until the last minute.

A recording from the Pan Am flight heard the captain exclaimed: “G******, that son-of-a-b**** is coming!” with the first officer then yelling: “Get off! Get off! Get off!”.

Despite the Pan Am plane attempting to turn off the runway while the KLM flight pulled up, the two planes then collided on the ground.

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One of the 61 survivors of the Pan Am flight, John Coombs of Haleiwa, Hawaii, said that sitting in the nose of the plane probably saved his life: “We all settled back, and the next thing an explosion took place and the whole port side, left side of the plane, was just torn wide open.”

Both airplanes were destroyed in the collision. All 248 passengers and crew aboard the KLM plane died, as did 335 passengers and crew aboard the Pan Am plane,[36] primarily due to the fire and explosions resulting from the fuel spilled and ignited in the impact. The other 61 passengers and crew aboard the Pan Am aircraft survived, including the captain, first officer and flight engineer. Most of the survivors on the Pan Am walked out onto the intact left wing, the side away from the collision, through holes in the fuselage structure.

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Keep going no matter what-The B-17 Bombers that wouldn’t crash

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I have been on many flights were things didn’t go as planned, in fact nearly ever flight bar 1 I have been one had some kind of issue. But I never encountered anything like the flights of these B-17 bombers, then again I never flew during war time.

These B-17 bombers just kept going despite heavy damage and still landed.

B-17 damaged in collision with Fw190 in head-on attack

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Waist gunner killed, ball turret gunner killed, radio operator blown out of the airplane completely, but this B-17 Flying Fort still managed to get home and land without cracking in half.

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This B-17G-75-BO (s/n 43-38071) landed at Brustem Airfield in Belgium on March 17, 1945, after a mid-air collision with another B-17G (s/n 43-38046). Both aircraft were from the 490th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. This plane took off with its standard crew of 10 but landed with 11 aboard…one dead. The body of radio operator (Sgt. George Devlin) from the other B-17 was somehow thrown into the nose of this aircraft during the collision.

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6th November 44 B17G RackheathClose up view showing the enormous hole from the flak-damaged B17 of the 91st BG that returned safely to Rackheath.

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US Air Force

That time the US nuked Greenland

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On 21 January 1968, an aircraft accident (sometimes known as the Thule affair or Thule accident  involving a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52 bomber occurred near Thule Air Base in the Danish territory of Greenland.

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The aircraft was carrying four hydrogen bombs on a Cold War “Chrome Dome” alert mission over Baffin Bay when a cabin fire forced the crew to abandon the aircraft before they could carry out an emergency landing at Thule Air Base. Six crew members ejected safely, but one who did not have an ejection seat was killed while trying to bail out. The bomber crashed onto sea ice in North Star Bay, Greenland, causing the conventional explosives aboard to detonate and the nuclear payload to rupture and disperse, which resulted in radioactive contamination.

The United States and Denmark launched an intensive clean-up and recovery operation, but the secondary stage of one of the nuclear weapons could not be accounted for after the operation completed. USAF Strategic Air Command “Chrome Dome” operations were discontinued immediately after the accident, which highlighted the safety and political risks of the missions. Safety procedures were reviewed and more stable explosives were developed for use in nuclear weapons.

In 1995, a political scandal resulted in Denmark after a report revealed the government had given tacit permission for nuclear weapons to be located in Greenland, in contravention of Denmark’s 1957 nuclear-free zone policy. Workers involved in the clean-up program have been campaigning for compensation for radiation-related illnesses they experienced in the years after the accident.

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I am leaving on a jet plane and I won’t be back again.

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Traveling by plane is still the safest way to travel, well at least if you’re not a musicians.

A disproportionate of singers and musicians over the last few decades, if you’d go by their track records you’d never board a plane again.

Since the list is quite extensive I will focus on the lesser known or forgotten ones.

Passion Fruit

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On November 24, 2001, the group was on board Crossair Flight 3597 from Berlin to Zurich when it crashed into a wooded range of hills 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) short of the runway on approach towards Zurich International Airport, near the town of Bassersdorf. Maria Serrano-Serrano and Nathaly van het Ende died along with former La Bouche vocalist Melanie Thornton, who was also on the plane, while Debby St. Maarten survived with serious injuries along with eight other people.

In December 2001, Passion Fruit’s management decided to donate all the proceeds from their single “I’m Dreaming of . . . A Winter Wonderland” to the victims and survivors of the crash.

Patsy Cline

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The immensely popular country singer had sold millions of records with songs like “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces.” She was 30 when a Piper Comanche carrying her home from a benefit concert crashed in 1963, 90 miles from Nashville.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

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Following a performance at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, South Carolina, on October 20, 1977, the band boarded a chartered Convair CV-240 bound for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where they were scheduled to appear at LSU the following night. Due to a faulty engine, the airplane ran low on fuel and the pilots were diverted to the McComb-Pike County Airport. After running out of fuel they attempted an emergency landing before crashing in a heavily forested area five miles northeast of Gillsburg, Mississippi.Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, along with backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve’s older sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray were killed on impact; other band members (Collins, Rossington, Wilkeson, Powell, Pyle, and Hawkins), tour manager Ron Eckerman, and several road crew suffered serious injuries.

Otis Redding

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The mesmerizing soul singer of “Try a Little Tenderness” and “Respect” was flying between Nashville and Madison, Wis., when his plane went down in bad weather in 1967. Three days earlier, he had recorded “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” which went on to be his biggest hit.

Jim Croce

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The 30-year-old Croce had already made the charts multiple times with “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” when a light plane carrying him and four bandmates crashed shortly after taking off from Nachitoches, La., on Sept. 20, 1973, the day his single “I Got A Name” was released.

Aaliyah

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The pop singer died in 2001 after a plane carrying her and eight others to Florida from the Bahamas crashed. Her debut album was titled “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.” She was 22 when she died.

Jenni Rivera

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Rivera was in Mexico performing a concert at Monterrey Arena on December 8, 2012, in Monterrey, Nuevo León. At 2:00 a.m. local time (Central Time Zone, CST) on December 9, after the show ended, she held a press conference at the same venue. She left the arena along with her staff and travelled to Monterrey International Airport. She was one of five passengers and two crew that took off from the airport at 3:00 a.m. CST in a 43-year-old Learjet 25 (a small business jet) registered in the US as N345MC. At approximately 3:20 a.m. CST, air traffic controllers lost contact with the Learjet as it was flying near Iturbide, Nuevo León.The aircraft was en route to Toluca for an appearance by Rivera on La Voz… México.

The Fanfarekorps of the Royal Netherlands Army.

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On 15 July 1996 at 6:02 PM local time, a Belgian Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft  crashed at Eindhoven Airport with a total of 41 people on-board: Four Belgian crew members and 37 young members of the Fanfarekorps of the Royal Netherlands Army. As the aircraft was coming into land at Eindhoven, it encountered a flock of birds; it overshot, but lost power and crashed into the ground; a fire broke out, which destroyed the cockpit and forward fuselage. Killing 32 people on board.

John Denver

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Son of an Air Force colonel who set multiple speed records, Denver ran out of gas flying his single-seater experimental airplane near Monterey, Calif., on Oct. 12, 1997.

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Glen Miller-Missing in Action

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Music legend Glenn Miller’s plane vanished over the Channel without a trace on December 15 1944.

On the day he went missing, Dec. 15, 1944, Miller, an Army major, is believed to have boarded a UC-64A Norseman in Bedfordshire, England, as a passenger. The plane was bound for France, where Miller was planning a performance for Allied troops.

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While traveling to entertain U.S. troops in France during World War II, Capt. Glenn Miller’s aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel.

Miller spent the last night before his disappearance at Milton Ernest Hall, near Bedford. On December 15, 1944, he was to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, to make arrangements to move his entire band there in the near future. His plane, a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285, departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, on the outskirts of Bedford and disappeared while flying over the English Channel.There were two others on board the plane: Lt. Col. Norman Baessell and pilot John Morgan.

The wreckage of Miller’s plane was never found. His official military status remains Missing in Action..

However there have been several theories.

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Conspiracy theories abound that he was assassinated  by German agents.

Another theory — one that’s more widely accepted — is that the plane Miller was flying in was destroyed by friendly fire. That theory was first proposed in the 1980s as intriguing evidence about the Norseman plane came to light. It was discovered that 138 planes returning from an aborted Allies bombing raid disposed of their bombs over the English Channel, and the theory is that one hit Miller’s plane, causing it to crash.

A 2014 article in the Chicago Tribune reported that, despite many theories that had been proposed, Miller’s plane crashed because it had a faulty carburetor. The plane’s engine had a type of carburetor that was known to be defective in cold weather and had a history of causing crashes in other aircraft by icing up.The theory that the plane was hit by a bomb jettisoned by Allied planes returning from an aborted bombing raid on Germany is discredited by the log of a plane-spotter that implies that the plane was heading in a direction that would avoid the zone where such bombs were jettisoned.

When Miller disappeared, he left behind his wife, the former Helen Burger, originally from Boulder, Colorado, and the two children they had adopted in 1943 and 1944, Steven and Jonnie. In February 1945, Helen Miller accepted the Bronze Star medal for Miller.

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Ending the blog with one of his many wonderful tunes.

 

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MiG 21 crash into a apartment block.

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There you are having your minding your own and before you know it there is a MiG 21 parked in your living room. This is what happened to some inhabitants of  the Plattenbau” building, Cottbus, East Germany.

On January 14th, 1975, Major Peter Makowicka, 33, wass on a training mission with his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 21 SPS „849“. During approach on the military airbase Cottbus, German Democratic Republic (Eastern Germany), a cover latch on the engine compressor section, which has been insufficiently secured by a maintenance technician, opens. The engine draws air and switches off. He receives the order to deploy the ejection seat to save himself and let the plane go down.

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Immediately after the distress, the military control center ordered the pilot to deploy the ejection seat to save himself and to let the plane go down. But Major Makovicka disobeyed, instead he pulled up to prevent the plane from crashing into the TKC (Textile Combinate Cottbus) with its thousands of workers, intending to let the plane crash into an empty field instead. There was no time to get that far away. In the residential area behind the factory site, the aircraft grazed the roof of a building and at 10.15 am pierced a “Plattenbau” (a 5-story large-panel system building) across the street. Mackovicka and five women were killed on the spot.

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The plane had hit the second floor of the apartment block. The fire had spread from the basement to the 4th floor. It was unknown whether the plane carried ammo. However the fire chief correctly deduced acute danger from explosions. It was decided to attack the fire with from the street side and to evacuate the other entries. The decisions later prove to be right. The firefighters discovered that the plane still carried more than 800 liters of fuel. Upon impact, all four tanks had ruptured and the entire fuel escaped instantaneously, explaining the intensive burn and multiple, deflagration-like flare-ups on the 1st to 4th floors.

One hour and 15 minutes after the crash, the fire was, by and large, extinguished. All in all, 200-300 firefighters, police, medics and NVA soldiers were on the scene. Sixteen residents suffered severe injuries, many had jumped out of the windows in panic. One woman died in hospital, raising the death toll of the accident to 7.

The area was sealed off hermetically. Two days later, only a patch in the wall remained as evidence for what happened. The official news agency ADN reported only that a plane crashed, killing six people U5dsRS1mAr8A7hdECmsVVGrDmMTbwbo_1680x8400— and that an official commission has been tasked with the investigation.

 

The technician who failed to close the latch properly was sentenced to five years in jail. Major Peter Makowicka, likely the only NVA (National People’s Army) hero ever to disobey an order, posthumously received the Kampforden für Verdienste um Volk und Vaterland in Gold (Combat medal for the merits for the People and Fatherland) and other awards.

 

The building, Schmellwitzer Straße 2, Cottbus, stands to this day.

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Alive! How far would you go to survive?

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Anyone who has seen the movie ‘Alive’ will be aware of this story.
Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 was a chartered flight carrying 45 people, including a rugby union team, their friends, family and associates, that crashed in the Andes on Friday the 13th  October 1972, in an incident known as the Andes flight disaster and, in the Hispanic world and South America, as the Miracle of the Andes (El Milagro de los Andes). More than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the 27 who were alive a few days after the accident, another eight were killed by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage. The last 16 survivors were rescued on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash.

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The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh conditions at over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) altitude. Faced with starvation and radio news reports that the search for them had been abandoned, the survivors fed on the bodies of dead passengers that had been preserved in the snow. Rescuers did not learn of the survivors until 72 days after the crash when passengers Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, after a 10-day trek across the Andes, found Chilean arriero Sergio Catalán,who gave them food and then alerted the authorities to the existence of the other survivors.

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The survivors had a small amount of food: a few chocolate bars, assorted snacks, and several bottles of wine. During the days following the crash, they divided up this food in very small amounts to make their meager supply last as long as possible. Fito Strauch devised a way to obtain water by using metal from the seats and placing snow on it. The snow melted in the sun and dripped into empty wine bottles..

Even with this strict rationing, their food stock dwindled quickly. There were no natural vegetation or animals on the snow-covered mountain.

The group survived by collectively deciding to eat flesh from the bodies of their dead comrades. This decision was not taken lightly, as most of the dead were classmates, close friends, or even relatives.

All of the passengers were Roman Catholic.  Some rationalized the act of necrotic cannibalism as equivalent to the ritual of Holy Communion,

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or justified it according to a Bible verse (John 15:13): “no man hath greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends”). Others initially had reservations, though after realizing that it was their only means of staying alive, changed their minds a few days later. There are reports that the only surviving female passenger, Liliana, although not seriously injured in the crash, was the last survivor to initially refuse eating the human flesh due to her strong religious convictions. She later began eating after being convinced by her husband, Javier, and the other survivors – though she died shortly thereafter in the avalanche.

When first rescued, the survivors initially explained that they had eaten some cheese they had carried with them, planning to discuss the details in private with their families. They were pushed into the public eye when photos were leaked to the press and sensational articles were published.

The survivors held a press conference on 28 December at Stella Maris College in Montevideo, where they recounted the events of the past 72 days.(Over the years, they also participated in the publication of two books, two films, and an official website about the event.)

The rescuers and a Chilean priest later returned to the crash site and buried the bodies of the dead, 80 m (260 ft) from the aircraft. Close to the grave they built a stone pile with an iron cross. They doused the remains of the fuselage in gasoline and set it alight.

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Although it is a horrific story, ultimately it is a great tale of hope,faith and endurance.

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The Hindenburg Disaster

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The Hindenburg disaster is probably just as iconic(for lack of a better word) as the Titanic disaster.

The airship Hindenburg, the largest dirigible ever built and the pride of Nazi Germany, burst into flames upon touching its mooring mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 passengers and crew members.

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The Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937 brought an end to the age of the rigid airship.

The disaster killed 35 persons on the airship, and one member of the ground crew, but miraculously 62 of the 97 passengers and crew survived.

After more than 30 years of passenger travel on commercial zeppelins — in which tens of thousands of passengers flew over a million miles, on more than 2,000 flights, without a single injury — the era of the passenger airship came to an end in a few fiery minutes.

Hindenburg was the last passenger aircraft of the world’s first airline — her chief steward,Heinrich Kubis .was the first flight attendant in history

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The Hindenburg was the fastest way to cross the Atlantic in her day.

Hindenburg’s passengers could travel from Europe to North and South America in half the time of the fastest ocean liner, and they traveled in luxurious interiors that would never again be matched in the air; they enjoyed meals in an elegant dining room, listened to an aluminum piano in a modern lounge, slept in comfortable cabins, and could even have a cigarette or cigar in the ship’s smoking room.

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On May 3, 1937, the Hindenburg left Frankfurt, Germany, for a journey across the Atlantic to Lakehurst’s Navy Air Base. Stretching 804 feet from stern to bow, it carried 36 passengers and crew of 61. While attempting to moor at Lakehurst, the airship suddenly burst into flames, probably after a spark ignited its hydrogen core. Rapidly falling 200 feet to the ground, the hull of the airship incinerated within seconds. Thirteen passengers, 21 crewmen, and 1 civilian member of the ground crew lost their lives, and most of the survivors suffered substantial injuries.

Radio announcer Herb Morrison, who came to Lakehurst to record a routine voice-over for an NBC newsreel, immortalized the Hindenberg disaster in a famous on-the-scene description in which he emotionally declared, “Oh, the humanity!” The recording of Morrison’s commentary was immediately flown to New York, where it was aired as part of America’s first coast-to-coast radio news broadcast. Lighter-than-air passenger travel rapidly fell out of favor after the Hindenberg disaster, and no rigid airships survived World War II.

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Thanks to the iconic film footage and the emotional eyewitness account of radio reporter Herbert Morrison (who uttered the famous words “Oh, the humanity!”), the Hindenburg disaster is the most famous airship accident in history. However, the deadliest incident occurred when the helium-filled USS Akron, a U.S. Navy airship, crashed off the coast of New Jersey in a severe storm on April 4, 1933. Seventy-three men were killed, and only three survived.

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The 1930 crash of the British military airship R101, which claimed 48 lives, was also deadlier.

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The Hindenburg on its first flight on March 4, 1936. The name of the airship was not yet painted on the hull

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Imber friendly fire incident

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The Imber friendly fire incident took place on the 13 April 1942 at Imber, England, during the Second World War. One of the Royal Air Force fighter aircraft taking part in a firepower demonstration accidentally opened fire on a crowd of spectators, killing 25 and wounding 71. Pilot error and bad weather were blamed for the incident

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On 13 April 1942 the weather was hazy and six Royal Air Force (RAF) Hawker Hurricanes from No. 175 Squadron RAF and six Supermarine Spitfires from No. 234 Squadron RAF were being used for a demonstration of tactical airpower at Imber, a British Army training ground on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

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The event was a dress rehearsal for an upcoming visit by Winston Churchill and General George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army and attended by a number of military personnel.

The Spitfires overflew followed by the Hurricanes. Five of the Hurricanes hit the correct targets: several armoured vehicles and mock tanks. The pilot of the sixth Hurricane opened fire at the spectators before continuing with the demonstration. Casualties were 25 military personnel killed and 71 wounded.

The following day the War Office and Air Ministry issued a joint statement:

During combined excercises to-day in Southern England there was an unfortunate accident in which a number of soldiers, including some members of the Home Guard, were killed and other injured. The next-of-kin have been informed.[4]

First reports were that 14 had died with forty to fifty injured but this was later revised to 23 killed on the day (16 officers and seven soldiers). Four of the officers were members of the Home Guard.Two other officers died from wounds in the next few days, one on the 14 April the other (a Home Guard officer) on the 15 April to bring the total deaths to 25.

The Court of Inquiry found the pilot, 21-year-old Sergeant William McLachlan was guilty of making an error of judgement and that the weather at the time contributed to the incident. The pilot of the Hurricane had misidentified the spectators as dummies, thinking that they were part of the demonstration when he opened fire.

An inquest held at Warminster into the deaths recorded that the deaths were caused by gunshot wounds and attributed to misadventure. The RAF pilot told the inquest he lost sight of the aeroplane he was following in the haze and realised he had made a mistake after he fired. The coroner also pointed out that, contrary to rumour, the pilot was British and not American.