Hampton Roads, VA Airship 'Roma' Disaster, Feb 1922
THIRTY FOUR PERISH IN GIANT AIRSHIP INFERNO
Big Dirigible 'Roma' Plunges 1,000 Feet To Earth, Capsizes Across Live Wire and Burns.
Thirty-four men were killed, eight were injured seriously and three were injured or only slightly bruised when the giant army airshhip Roma, withher crew and a number of civilians, totalling 45 in all aboard, plunged Tuesday from a thousand feet or more in the air to the ground at the Hampton Roads Naval base.
The accident presumeably was caused by a broken rudder and as the big dirigible plunged to earth it capsized across a high tension electric line bursting in a roaring furnace of blazing hydrogen gas.
Long after dark Tuesday night many hours after her fall, the ship was still a mass of flames from end to end of her 140 foot mass. The fire fed on the million cubic feet of gas which had distended the great bag for the flight and made all attempt at rescue futile.
Barely a dozen of those aboard were picked up alive and one of those died on the way to the hospital. All of those who survived the fire escaped by jumping as the ship struck. The others penned in the hull were burned to death.
Accounts of survivors and of eye witnesses as to what had happened appeared to agree that the huge kite-like structure of the stern rudder, itself as large as a bombing plane, had slipped to one side as the Roma drove along a thousand feet above the army base.
She was making a trial flight with a new battery of Liberty motors. They were installed to replace Italian engines brought with her from Italy, but which have not proved satisfactory. Installation was completed at Langley field two weeks ago.
The Roma was tha largest semi-rigid dirigible in the world and cost the United States $200,000. The accident is akin to the destruction of the ZR-2 in England last August when 44 officers and men perished.
An official list of the survivors, dead and missing in the Roma disaster was received from Langley Field by the army air service Tuesday night. The address, however, in most cases were unavailable. The list follows:
First Lieut. WILLIAM E. RILEY of 526 East Eighty-Sixth Street, New York.
Captain WALTER J. REED of Scarsdale, N. Y.; Major JOHN D. REARDON of Washington, D. C.; First Lieutenant CLARENCE H. WELCH of Papillion, Neb.; Lieut. B. G. BURT, pilot, slightly injured; Sergent HARRY A. CHAPMAN; Sergeant VIRDEN T. PECK of Terre Haute, Ind. (uninjured); Sergeant JOSEPH M. BIEDENBACK of Akron, O.; Corporal FLORES; CHARLES DWORACK, McCook field, of Dayton, O.; RAY HURLEY of the national advisory committee on aeronautics, (uninjured); WALTER A. McNAIR of the bureau of standards, Washington, D. C.
Major JOHN G. THORNELL; Major WALTER W. VAUTMIER; Captain DALE MABRY; Captain GEO. D. WATTS; Captain ALLEN F. McFARLAND; Captain DURSCHMIDT; First Lieut. J. R. HALL; First Lieut. C. BURNS; First Lieut. CLIFFORD E. SMYTHE; First Lieut. WALLACE C. CUMMINGS; First Lieut. AMBROSE V. CLINTON; First Lieut. HAROLD HINE; Master Sergeant McNALLY; Master Sergeant MURRY; Master Sergeant GORBY; Sergeant HARRIS; Sergeant HILLIARD; Sergeant BEAL; Sergeant YARBOROUGH; Sergeant RYAN; Sergeant HUFFMAN; Sergeant SCHUMACHER; Sergeant HOLMES; Sergeant HESTERON; Private KINIGSTON; Private BLAKELY; Private THOMPSON; Private HILL; civilians (all said to be of McCook field, Dayton, Ohio), STRYKER; HANSON; O'LAUGHLIN; MERRIMAN; SCHNIENBERGER.
Essex County Republican New York 1922-02-24