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Loss of the Akron

Nature volume 131, pages 499500 (08 April 1933) | Download Citation



WE much regret to record the total loss of the United States naval airship Akron, which occurred on April 4. It appears that the vessel left Lakehurst for a cruise over the coast of New England on April 3 in order to test her wireless compasses. A wireless message during the evening reported that all was well and nothing further was heard until a German tanker, the Phabus, reported by wireless that the Akron had ‘crashed’ at sea and that four of the crew had been picked up, one of whom died later. One of the survivors is Lieut.-Comdr. H. Wiley, the second-in-command, who has recovered sufficiently to make a report on the disaster. The airship sighted a thunderstorm at 8.45 p.m.; later, the ship at 1,600 ft. appeared to be surrounded by lightning and about midnight she began to descend rapidly. Ballast was thrown out and she regained altitude, only to descend again a few minutes later. The rudder control was carried away as the airship crashed and it seems that the main part of the ship sunk almost immediately. The Akron was the largest airship in the world, her gasbags were filled with helium, and, at the time of the disaster, there were seventy-seven officers and men aboard, including Rear-Admiral William Moffett, chief of the U.S. Naval Bureau of Aeronautics. Rescue work was hampered by the weather, and a ‘blimp’ returning from a search for survivors was blown into the sea on attempting to land, one of the crew being drowned and the commander dying shortly afterwards. Yet another airship accident has been reported, this time from France, where the semi-rigid naval dirigible E9, crashed near Guerande on April 4, two of the crew of twelve being injured.

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