Lakehurst, NJ Navy Blimp Crashes Into Hangar, May 1959
NAVY BLIMP CRASHES INTO HANGAR.
ONE IN CREW KILLED, SIX ARE HURT IN CRACKUP.
Lakehurst, N. J. (AP) -- One crewman was killed early today when a silvery Navy blimp crashed into a hangar while attempting to land in a dense fog. Six crewmen were hospitalized and several others suffered minor injuries.
The wreckage was wedged in the hangar roof 150 feet above the ground.
Rescue workers clambered over the roof and removed the injured crewmen who had been trapped in the blimp's gondola.
Names of the dead man and the injured were withheld by the Navy pending notification of next of kin.
Wreck On Hangar.
The freak accident left the wreckage near the top of the 150-foot high hangar. The whole rooftop was shrouded by the limp folds of the blimp's great gas bag.
Rescuers had to reach the scene with aerial ladders and then tunnel beneath the deflated bag to reach the gondola car where the injured lay. It had rammed partially through the hangar roof and remained stuck fast.
The ZPG-2 blimp was returning from a routine 21-hour anti-submarine patrol early this morning. It was making a radar-controlled instrument approach through a swirling fog that blanketed out everything more than 100 feet away.
"They probably never saw the ground until after they hit," said Lt. Cmdr. HERMAN SPAHR, administrative off of Squadron 3 to which the craft was attached.
Picking Up Speed.
"The fog was so bad we radioed the blimp to gain altitude and try to come in again," said SPAHR. It was just picking up speed to 45 miles an hour when it hit.
The huge bag was ripped by the wreckage and its million cubic feet of helium wooshed out through its rent sides. The gas it non-inflammable and dispersed without herm into the fog.
Rescuers at first were unable to locate four officers and two men beneath the entangling sheets of the 343-foot long bag. They were found in the fore part of the metal alloy gondola.
AFter almost five hours one of the officers was pried loose. He was taken down a ladder strapped in a litter. The shirt of one of the litter bearers was smeared with blood.
The crew members in the rear of the car were unhurt and made their way down ladders to safety.
Talked To Officers.
SPAHR said rescuers had talked to the two trapped officers but were having difficulty freeing them.
SPAHR said the landing was a "routine instrument approach, the same kind the commercial airlines make."
There was a total of eight officers and 10 enlisted men aboard.
Salisbury Times Maryland 1959-05-14