By John Ostapkovich
LAKEHURST, N.J. (CBS) – There’s a memorial service this morning near Tom’s River, New Jersey, marking the 80th anniversary of an airship disaster even worse than the Hindenberg.
When the Hindenberg caught fire and crashed in 1937, it was a news sensation, with both media access and international implications, says Carl Jablonski, president of the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society.
But the Akron disaster, four years earlier, was at night, 60 miles off shore.
“It ran into a storm and it went down into the ocean,” Jablonski said. “It broke apart. There were 76 people on board — 73 perished.”
Compared to 36 deaths from the Hindenberg.
It’s believed The Akron crashed because in the intense low pressure of the storm, it was no longer lighter than the surrounding air, just an 85 ton, 787 foot long falling object.
Jablonski says the Navy abandoned its scout airship program a few years later, when the third of its four vessels crashed.