Classic Chicago

That Time a Blimp Crashed in the Loop

A Goodyear blimp crashed in the Loop. It wasn't pretty.


These days, seeing a blimp flying over a sporting event is fairly common. But back in 1919, it wasn’t something we saw that often. So when a Goodyear blimp took off from the airstrip at Grant Park, it was probably a pretty cool thing. At least until it exploded in the air.

The dirigible, dubbed the Wingfoot Air Express, was en route to the White City Amusement Park when it exploded. Over the Loop. Engulfed in flames, the blimp fell 1,200 feet and crashed through the lobby skylight of the Illinois Trust & Savings Bank, then located at LaSalle and Jackson. It was a major tragedy where 13 people perished, including bank employees and crew of the Wingfoot. Needless to say, air traffic was no longer allowed to fly over the Loop after the tragic incident.

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