Blimp pilot dies saving passengers from fiery crash
A Goodyear blimp plunges to the ground after catching fire over Germany on Sunday.
June 14th, 2011
07:54 AM ET

Blimp pilot dies saving passengers from fiery crash

An Australian blimp pilot killed in a crash of his airship was being hailed as a hero Tuesday for saving the lives of three other people aboard the doomed craft.

Michael Nerandzic was trying to land a Goodyear blimp at an airfield in Reichelsheim, Germany, when his passengers, three journalists, smelled fuel and heard a loud noise from an engine, according to news reports, including one in the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Australia.

Realizing the ship was in danger, Nerandzic lowered it to just two meters (6.5 feet) off the ground and told the journalists to jump, according to the news reports.

Time.com: Harrowing photos as blimp catches fire, crashes

With the loss of ballast from the three passengers, the blimp shot up to 50 meters (165 feet) in the air, caught fire and then crashed.

Nerandzic's wife, Lyndy, told Australia's ABC Sydney that her husband sacrificed himself to save his passengers.

"When there was trouble on the airship he brought it down to as low as he could to let the passengers jump out and he stayed at the controls," ABC quoted Lyndy Nerandzic as saying. "As soon as they jumped out, of course, being an airship, he knew it would rise up and it did. They found him still at the controls when it crashed. He also steered it away from his ground crew."

"When they told me what he had done for the passengers, it didn't surprise me one little bit," she told the Illawarra Mercury. "He was a character. He was larger than life. He was so, so generous."

When the crash occurred, the airship was returning from a trip taking the journalists  a photographer from the Bild newspaper and two from the RTL TV network  to get aerial shots of a local festival, Spiegel Online reported.

The owners of the blimp, the Lightship Group, said in an "in memoriam" announcement on their website that Nerandzic, 53, was "one of the world's most experience airship pilots," with 18,000 hours of experience piloting airships over 26 years.

"Our thoughts at this time go to his wife and family, his colleagues past and present and many friends worldwide," the company's statement said.

The Lightship Group describes itself as the world's largest airship operator, with clients including Goodyear, Met Life, General Motors, DirecTV and Sanyo.

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Filed under: Australia • Aviation • Germany • World
soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. Stephen Anderson

    He was a great man use to drink with him in Hong Kong

    June 17, 2011 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. rayster123

    All of you, quit arguing. A man died saving other peoples lives! People like you make us think that you should be the ones piloting the blimp and going down. No amount of respect can be gained from your foolish arguments.

    June 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lyndy Nerandzic

    was that meant to be funny...

    July 10, 2011 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. lyndy Nerandzic

    To all of you who gave kind coments..Thank you...My Husband was the most experienced airship pilot in the world...He was the ultimate perfessional when it came to flying and he made a choice...not to save his own life..not to come home to me in australia..but to save his passengers and try and save his aircraft...He died in awfull pain 2 days before his 53rd birthday..We were planning to grow old together and I have lost the love of my life...I ask you please to have more care when you are posting..I have to many nightmares as it is..Michael has been awarded bravery awards for giving up his life..as nice as that is .it will not bring him home to us.....

    July 29, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Leslie Schultz

      Mike was a great pilot and a good player (especially bar hoping – a big fan of the gals). He was bigger than life – yes he got big. Blimp life on the road and in the air has its good and bad points – I havent yet seen one family or relationship stay together in this industry..You are the exception than the rule to stand by him all these years.. God bless.
      All the best
      Leslie

      January 30, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lyndy Nerandzic

    To all of you who gave kind coments..Thank you...My Husband was the most experienced airship pilot in the world...He was the ultimate perfessional when it came to flying and he made a choice...not to save his own life..not to come home to me in australia..but to save his passengers and try and save his aircraft...He died in awfull pain 2 days before his 53rd birthday..We were planning to grow old together and I have lost the love of my life...I ask you please to have more care when you are posting..I have too many nightmares as it is..Michael has been awarded bravery awards for giving up his life..as nice as that is .it will not bring him home to us.....

    July 29, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeremy

    I would never use either of these two sh1tty sites. Spamming a story where someone died, I hope your companies building catches on fire and you die.

    June 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. beelzebubba

    Steve Jobs just got sued for stealing ideas from Nokia. I guess he must have a secret app for 'innovating' called iSteal... funny I haven't seen it covered on CNN though they just ran 4 or 5 pro-Apple articles simultaneously on this site...

    June 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lyndy Nerandzic

    Who are you..and what do you think you are doing posting on this site,if you can not respect that I have lost my husband,while he saved other lifes,and that we are in so so much pain...Go and find some where else to post.....

    July 10, 2011 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
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