1919 July 21: Dirigible (Balloon) Crash
Beautiful dirigible in Grant Park prior to its death trip.
Two passengers, a mechanic and 10 employees of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank died when the dirigible Winged Foot Express burned and fell through the skylight of the bank on July 21, 1919. The craft had been conveying passengers between Grant Park and the White City Amusement Park on the South Side, when it caught fire at an altitude of 1,200 feet.
The pilot and chief mechanic parachuted to safety. Another passenger parachuted, broke both legs and died later. The other occupants of the balloon descended with the craft to their deaths. The City Council immediately proposed regulations banning the flying of flammable gas balloons over the populated parts of the city.
The Illinois Trust and Savings Bank’s The Columns special memorial issue, July 1919 Dirigible crash, included photos of the inspection of the blimp, the dirigible in flight, those injured in the crash and scenes from the aftermath: