Atlantic City, NJ Airship Akron Explosion, Jul 1912

Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Akron Air Ship drawing 1911.jpg Melvin Vaniman pilot of the Akron.jpg

AIRSHIP HURLED INTO THE SEA

BUILT TO WITHSTAND STORMS, GREAT AIRSHIP GOES DOWN IN CALM WEATHER.

FIVE AERONAUTS DIE

VANIMAN AND CREW FALL TO THEIR DEATH IN THE TANGLED MASS.

Western Newspaper Union News Service
Atlantic City, N. J. --- Sailing out over the Atlantic ocean under perfect control and in view of several thousand interested persons, the great airship AKRON, in command of MELVILLE VANIMAN, with a crew of four men, exploded while more than 500 feet in the air and, shot down into the water a tangled mass, carrying to their death the daring aviator and his companions.

Death is believed to have come instantly to the five men.

In all the tragic history of disasters to airships or aeroplanes probably none was as sensational as that which brought to an end the greatest and most costly air craft ever constructed in the western hemisphere. Built to withstand the storms of the Atlantic, and to carry at least a dozen men across the ocean to Europe, the AKRON went to her doom in calm weather.

Those who went down with the big dirigible beside the intrepid VANIMAN, who already had had one thrilling experience in an airship on the ocean, were:
CALVIN VANIMAN, his younger brother.
FRED ELMER.
GEORGE BOURRILLION of Philadelphia.
WALTER C. GEST, a friend of VANIMAN'S financial backer.

Two bodies, those of CALVIN VANIMAN and BOURRILLION, have been recovered from the wreckage, which lies submerged in about eighteen feet of water, off Brigatine beach.

The AKRON, which had been inflated last February with gas manufactured by VANIMAN in the big hangar near the inlet, was taken out shortly after 6 a. m., for a test flight. One flight had been made about a month ago, and defects discovered at that time were remedied.

This trial was to have been among the last prior to the attempt to cross the Atlantic.

MRS. VANIMAN bid her husband good-bye at their little cottage near the hangar at 2 a. m. and waited for daybreak to see her husband sail away. The city authorities had been notified of the intended flight and a hundred policemen, firemen and other willing helpers assisted in floating the great gas-bag out of the hangar. The launching of the aircraft was accomplished without difficulty and she sailed gracefully away.

Over the waters of Absecon Inlet, VANIMAN maneuvered, and then sailed down over the city, and after completing a few other movements shaped the ship's course out to sea.

Eagle Valley Enterprise Colorado 1912-07-05

Comments

Airship Akron Explosion

"In the early decade of the twentieth century, airships developed along three lines: those that consisted of a balloon from which the power plant and the crew quarters dangled were known as non-rigid; airships with a skeletal structure encasing a balloon and to which a crew compartment and propulsion system were attached were called semi-rigid; and airships that were made of a solid outer shell, with the passenger and crew compartments attached and which had balloons inflated inside, were known as rigid.....The semi-rigid airships were abandoned after 1911..... In the United States, semi-rigid airships did not fare so well: The America, a semi-rigid dirigible .... went down in the ocean during a 1906 attempt to cross the Atlantic. The crew was rescued, but one of them, Melville Vaniman, decided to try again. His ship, the Akron, caught fire and crashed off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey, on July 2, 1912, killing Vaniman and his crew of four."

Aviation Before World War I from Century-of-flight.net
http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation%20history/up%20to%20WW%201/Dir...