August 30, 2014

LUCKY BUGGER:

Werner Franz, Survivor of the Hindenburg's Crew, Dies at 92 (BRUCE WEBER, AUG. 29, 2014, NY Times)

Mr. Franz was believed to be the last surviving crew member. At least one other survivor of the crash, Werner Doehner, who was 8 years old and traveling with his family at the time, is thought to be still living.

The Hindenburg, 800 feet long (more than three times the length of a Boeing 747) and 135 feet in diameter, had its maiden voyage on March 4, 1936, and made 62 safe flights before its destruction. Mr. Franz had made four round-trip crossings on it, to both North and South America. As he recalled his experience of the crash in a book published in Germany a year later, he had been clearing dishes in the officer's mess when the Hindenburg began to burn.

"Franz heard a thud, and he felt the ship shake and point sharply upward as the burning tail crashed to the ground," Mr. Grossman wrote on his website, airships.net, summarizing the German account. "Hydrogen flames roared above and behind him as the ship tilted more steeply, and then a ballast tank ruptured, dousing Franz with water."

The inadvertent soaking was Mr. Franz's good fortune, offering a buffer against the mounting heat and flame. He kicked open a hatch used to bring supplies onto the ship, and when the ground loomed close enough, he leapt to safety, running from the wreckage before it could entrap him. He suffered no injuries.
Posted by at August 30, 2014 7:01 AM
  
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