Image: Library of Congress
7. October 17, 1913: Imperial German Navy L 2 (Zeppelin LZ 18)
Zeppelin LZ 18 was one of 14 Zeppelins purchased by the German Navy ahead of WWI. Up until this time, Zeppelins were operated by the world’s first commercial airline company, Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG), and were used to transport paying passengers.
When catastrophe struck the LZ 18 on October 17, 1913, it went down in history as one of the first multiple-death air disasters the world had witnessed. The accident occurred during a test flight, after hydrogen gas was sucked into the engine of the aircraft. Sure enough, the gas ignited and caused an explosion.
The airship came down close to Johannisthal Airfield, just outside of Berlin, and today the event is known as the Johannisthal Air Disaster. All 28 people on board the ship were killed. The disaster, along with another earlier Zeppelin incident, was a huge setback to the German Navy’s aviation program.