The Goodyear blimp "Spirit of Safety" erupted into flames and crashed on Sunday, claiming the life of pilot Michael Nerandzic. According to reports, the vessel began emitting fuel fumes as it came in to land at the Reichelsheim aerodome outside of Friedberg, Germany. Nerandzic ordered his three passengers, all journalists, to jump from the blimp from a height of around six feet. With the weight of the passengers gone, the dirigible shot approximately 150 feet into the air before bursting into flames and crashing back down.
The ship was filled with non-flammable Helium, though photos and video of the incident show the gondola and engines aflame.
Goodyear leased "Spirit of Safety" from Lightship Europe for advertising purposes along with a second vessel, which has been grounded since the incident. In a statement, the tire manufacturer said that neither it nor Lightship Europe could comment on the possible causes of the accident at this time. Click past the jump to watch a report from Bild.de, one of the outlets aboard the vessel during the incident.
UPDATE: A representative from Goodyear contacted us with the following information: "This airship is not one of our 3 US ships and is a totally different kind of airship. It is owned and operated by Lightship Europe Limited. The airship was one of two chartered by Goodyear from LEL for marketing purposes in Europe."