I was just heading to bed when I got an email marked ‘URGENT’ from a German news agency wanting a copy of the photo above. I had a horrible feeling something had happened to the GoodYear Blimp and it’s pilot Mike Nerandzic. I was flying with him less than two months ago.
I tried to google for news but nothing came up. Then, shortly after the email came a tweet from Trevor Monk (@HAVmustfly) confirming my concerns and linking me to a Website with an image of the GoodYear Blimp in flames.
It wasn’t that long ago I was sat in the ‘Spirit Of Safety’, chatting with pilot Mike Nerandzic about his job and the role of airships in general. He’d been flying airships for 26 years. Early reports are that the three passengers amazingly survived. It’s reported that Mike Nerandzic died in the crash. I guess there will be more details in the morning. If it’s true, my thoughts are with his family.
The slideshow below was created from photos and video shot on the day of my flight in the ‘Spirit of Safety I’. As we waited to board, we joked with ground crew about the name saying they were tempting fate. They agreed saying the name was nothing to do with them. I can’t imagine what the team must be going through.
UPDATE: It looks like the engines caught fire low to the ground and the pilot told the passengers to jump. When they did the airship lost ballast and the pilot was trapped in the flames as the airship gained altitude.
As I head to bed tonight my thoughts are with Mike Nerandzic’s family. A brave pilot who lost his life while saving his passengers.
Another UPDATE: Blog posts are starting to appear but little in the UK news. ( http://t.co/eshLxE4 )
Here is some Audio I recorded of Mike as we waited onboard for the airship to be refueled.