Disaster on the Humber – 23 August 1921
On 23 August 1921, the R38 airship exploded over the River Humber, near Hull, and crashed into its waters. The R38 had been based at Howden and was going to be sold to the American military.
The airship has set off on an acceptance cruise, carrying some of its American buyers, to Pulham, Norfolk, but was forced to turn back due to thick fog.
However, to make use of the trip and demonstrate the airship’s abilities to its new customers, the crew began performing various maneuvers, including sharp turns at speed.
After the R38 had passed Kingston upon Hull and flew out over the Humber, the airship buckled under the stress of the maneuvers and was torn in half, causing the front to explode.
The remainder of the airship plummeted into the river.
The tragedy occurred on a warm summer evening and so it was witnessed by thousands of people on the riverbanks. Of the 49 crew and passengers on board, 44 were killed.
Almost immediately after the event, local film maker Ernest Symmons, was able to row out to the wreckage and capture footage of the aftermath.