What Was The Deadliest Airship Disaster Of All Time?
Answer: The USS Akron
Although the tragedy of the Hindenburg was the most widely publicized and most widely remembered airship disaster in the history of aviation, the Hindenburg disaster wasn’t the first, the only, or the most deadly airship disaster. The 20th century can lay claim to over 60 airship disasters, including the deadliest.
On the evening of April 3, 1933, the USS Akron set off from the coast of New England on a mission to help calibrate radio direction finder stations. The Akron ran into severe weather and ended up in a pocket that had lower barometric pressure than when it launched, which resulted in a lower flight altitude. While at the lower altitude, the airship was caught by an updraft, followed almost immediately by a downdraft.
Despite deft maneuvering by the crew, the severe weather and stress on the Akron proved to be too much and the ship broke apart over the Atlantic. The ship, which shared the record for largest helium-filled airship with its sister craft the USS Macon, was never recovered and 73 out of 76 of the crewman aboard perished.