The pilot was killed but three passengers managed to jump to safety when the airship caught fire as it was coming in to land at the Reichelsheim aerodrome near Friedberg.
When the airship was just six meters from the floor, the pilot told his passengers, all journalists, to jump to the ground while he tried to land safely.
Once the three had leapt clear of the blimp he took it back up before being it became overwhelmed by flames and crashed to the earth, in a chilling echo of the Hindenburg disaster.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear but an investigation was underway.
Witnesses reported hearing a loud noise from the engine and smelling petrol fumes.
One eyewitness said: 'We could also hear the cries of the doomed pilot as the fire surrounded him. It was terrible.'
Eyewitnesses said three passengers escaped the gondola of the blimp before the 42-year-old pilot ascended and crashed in a nearby field.
The blimp pilot who died was named by the airships.net website has named the pilot as 42-year-old Australian Mike Nerandzic.
The journalists who escaped were a photographer from Germany's Bild newspaper and two from RTL television.
The crash happened at 8.30pm on Sunday after the airship had made a round trip for the pressmen to take photos of the state of Hessen. Photos here.