A young boy of mere 14-years who served on the ill-fated Hindenburg air-ship, died recently at his home at a ripe old age of 92.
Werner Franz, believed to be the last surviving crew member of the German airship Hindenburg that crashed 77 years ago, died peacefully at his home. His widow Annerose confirmed that Franz died of heart failure this month in his hometown of Frankfurt reported Metro.
John Provan, who has been working on an extensive report on the Hindenburg blimp, has managed to compile the story of the young Franz. Franz was a young 14-year-old cabin boy aboard the hydrogen-filled Zeppelin. Since the inflammable nature of Hydrogen wasn’t so seriously taken into consideration, dormant static electricity caused the flammable gas to ignite on May 6, 1937.
The flames soon spread and engulfed the entire airship. The disaster was well documented by waiting photographers, film crews and a radio broadcaster on the ground, making it one of history’s most iconic and highly chronicled air accidents. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), there were 36 fatalities of which 13 were passengers and 22 were crew members, including a worker who was working on the ground.
Young Franz, who had the presence of mind, managed to escape unscathed, reported Fox News. Speaking about his eventual life aboard the Hindenburg, Provan said,
“His older brother worked at a fancy hotel in Frankfurt where the passengers and the captain stayed overnight before the airship took off early in the morning. One of the captains said they were looking for a cabin boy and (his brother) heard about it.”
Franz completed three journeys to South America and one to North America before the disaster. Speaking about how Franz managed to escape unhurt, Provan said,
“Werner was most fortunate because he was in the officers’ mess cleaning up. Above him was a large tank of water that burst open and drenched him, which protected him a bit from the flames and the heat.”
Franz was able to jump out of a cloth supply hatch onto the ground below and made the wise decision to run into the wind, said Provan,
“He didn’t make the mistake of going in the other direction or the flames would have caught him.”
The Hindenburg might have been a very costly endeavor, but it has paved way for newer aircraft and safety measures that are saving countless lives.
[Image Credit | AP Photo/dpa, John Provan]