A blimp exploded over Germany on Tuesday, and thanks to a heroic pilot who sacrificed himself, the three passengers survived. Australian pilot Michael Nerandzic was trying to land the Goodyear ship when a loud noise and the smell of fuel were coming from the engine. Nerandzic, realizing the grave crisis, lowered the blimp to about six feet off the ground and instructed everyone to jump. Without the weight of the passengers, the airship rose to about 165 feet off the ground, then exploded. In the aftermath of the crash and explosion, Nerandzic was found gripping the controls.
Pilots like Nerandzic make me feel safe in the sky.
The blimp, unfortunately named The Spirit of Safety, was part of a Goodyear campaign promoting road safety. Its sister ship was grounded in Europe today and will stay put for the time being. In over 85 years of using blimps, this is the first fatality for Goodyear.
There was one person who wasn't surprised by the pilot's bravery: His wife, Lyndy Nerandzic. She told the Illawarra Mercury:
When they told me what he had done for the passengers, it didn't surprise me one little bit. He was a character. He was larger than life. He was so, so generous.
Lyndy was scheduled to join Michael in Europe next month to celebrate his birthday. The almost 53-year-old pilot held a pilot license in five countries and had logged over 12,000 hours in the air. He was well respected and liked among his peers.
Pilots like Nerandzic and Miracle on the Hudson ace, Captain Sully, are brave heroes that take a little of my anxiety away before taking off. I like to think that all pilots, and all persons put in charge of others' lives, will stand up in the face of danger and try their best to make sure everyone is safe.
How do you feel?
Photo via Beige Alert/Flickr