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. 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.

Post by:
Filed under: Australia • Aviation • Germany • World
soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. JJ

    Oh, the humanity!

    June 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. donald

    he ist gone he will always be with you.
    he is a hero a man
    it takes true human being to put his life in front of others
    he is a good man and dont let anyone tell you difrrent
    he has my prairs as you do as well

    June 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jfc1

    maybe if he was a little more experienced he would have realized that he could have jumped with them.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Margroks

    What a great guy; my condolences to his family. He was apparently an Aussie to be proud of.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roger

    Truly a valiant guy! This Man had character! May his soul rest-in-peace.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Globey

    GOD need another Pilot..
    My condolences to the family and friend..

    June 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • JS are simply STUPID.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jess

    You're disgusting.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. steve

    this is a sad story and i respect the pilot for what he did RIP... but i cannot help but laughing my ass of at this comment

    June 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 2BLBJJ

    Off topic, off base & off kilter.

    Please adjust tin foil hat atop head before attempting additional mindless ranting.

    In reference to the article, one of the most selfless, bravest act of heroism I've ever seen.

    God Speed Captain Nerandzic.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Eric

    'Hero' is a term that gets overused quite a bit and has lost it's meaning, but this guy was one for sure. He sacrificed his own life in order to save others; he stayed at the controls when he could have bailed out and taken the chance that perhaps the flaming blimp would land somewhere harmless.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      I could not agree more

      June 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • PhooBar

      Amen to that.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • SuperC142

      I was about to post the same thing, then saw your post. I hate when the word "hero" is used inappropriately, but this is a genuine case of heroism. He did what he did, knowing the implications, in order to save the lives of others. True hero.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bundt Cake

    This guy is a real F&%#ing HERO, your contributions to humanities best are noted by those who care mate.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alex

    @Nena -lulz!

    June 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wixzoo

    Wow, over 18,000 hours. That is jsut so sad, I wish he would have jumped off with the passengers and jsut let the troubled ship drift.

    June 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • birdnerd

      I wish so also. I don't know blimp anatomy well, but I assume the control area didn't have an exit door and was too far from the one the journalist used. Obviously not the best design if this is the case!

      June 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Frank has to do something about the cold-hearted posts – incredible that a number of them posted here are poking fun at what happened – guess they don't care as long as it's not them – one day it will be, for themselves or someone they know, then they'll expect everyone's respect – but may not find it...

    June 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      The ignorant are always out to prove their ignorance at every opportunity, and they do.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I agree with your premise, but do you really think that one day most of the posters here will find themselves facing a fatal incident on a blimp?

      June 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • JS

      Bob – You are simply Stupid!

      June 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. scro

    RIP and condolences to the family... But this was a rather funny comment, Those Germans loves their Zepplins

    June 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16