Werner Franz jumped out of the flaming airship as it crashed to the ground
A German man thought to be the last surviving flight crew member of the Hindenburg airship that crashed 77 years ago has died at the age of 92.
Werner Franz suffered a heart attack on Aug. 13 in his hometown of Frankfurt, Germany, the Associated Press reports.
Franz was working as a cabin boy at the age of 14 when the Zeppelin caught fire and crashed into Lakehurst, N.J., on May 6, 1937, killing a total of 36. The incident has become one of the most iconic aircraft accidents in history, partly due to broadcast coverage of the disaster and Herbert Morrison famously crying out, “Oh, the humanity!” during his eyewitness report.
Franz jumped out of the aircraft as it was falling to the ground and escaped “without a scratch on him,” historian and friend John Provan said.
“Werner was most fortunate because he was in the officers’ mess cleaning up,” Provan told the AP. “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.”
Three other survivors of the crash are believed to be still alive, according to Navy Lakehurst Historical Society president Carl Jablonski: Werner Doehner and Horst Schirmer, both passengers, and Robert Buchanan, a member of the ground crew that had been waiting to secure the airship.