Friday, December 26, 2014

Werner Franz | Hindenburg survivor, 92

Werner Franz, 92, believed to be the last surviving crew member of the German airship Hindenburg that crashed 77 years ago, died of heart failure Aug. 13 in his hometown of Frankfurt, according to historian John Provan, a longtime friend.

Mr. Franz was a 14-year-old cabin boy when the hydrogen-filled Zeppelin caught fire and crashed May 6, 1937, in Lakehurst, N.J. The disaster was captured by waiting photographers, film crews, and a radio broadcaster on the ground, making it one of history's most iconic air accidents.

Luck and quick thinking meant the young Mr. Franz was able to jump out of the Hindenburg as it fell burning to the ground, Provan said.

Mr. Franz returned to Germany and served as an aircraft technician during World War II. He spoke freely about his experience, said Carl Jablonski, president of the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, who last met Mr. Franz at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the disaster that killed 35 of the 97 people on board and a Navy crewman on the ground. Jablonski said three other survivors are believed to be still alive today. - AP

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