First U.S. airship disasterIn 1908, the first airship disaster in the U.S. took place in Berkeley, Cal. A 450-foot long balloon collapsed and exploded, injuring 15 passengers and the inventor, John A. Morrell. The widest part of the cigar-shaped craft was 46 feet in diameter. It was fitted with six 200-h.p. gasoline engines. This was about 30 years before the better-known disaster of the Hindenburg, which ignited and burned on 6 May 1937, killing 36 people. Yet the death toll of the Hindenburg did not eclipse the death toll of 73 people in an earlier airship disaster on 4 Apr 1933, when the Akron crashed at sea during a storm.