Wingfoot Air Express
July 21, 1919 - It was on this day that a dirigible called the Wingfoot Air Express burst into flames and crashed through the skylight of a Chicago bank. 13 people died and many more were badly injured.
The blimp was at 1200 feet when it caught on fire. Nobody is sure what caused the blaze, but many people on the ground witnessed the airship's deadly descent. The pilot and chief mechanic were able to parachute safely to the streets below. A third crew member died when his parachute caught fire. Two passengers on the blimp also perished.
The biggest death toll came on the ground as the flaming blimp landed squarely on the glass skylight of the Illinois Trust & Savings Bank. 150 employees were inside the building when two gas tanks from the dirigible crashed through the glass and exploded on the marble floor. Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition.
In response to the disaster, the city of Chicago adopted a new set of stringent rules to regulate air traffic over the city.