Today in History: Hindenburg’s First Flight, March 4, 1936

by Dan Grossman on March 4, 2010

Today is the anniversary of LZ-129‘s first flight.

After four years of construction, the ship left its hangar at 3:08 in the afternoon of March 4, 1936; the ever-cautious Hugo Eckener had delayed the flight, which had originally been planned for that morning, to wait for better weather in the afternoon.  A few minutes later the ship lifted off, and slowly cruised over the Bodensee and Friedrichshafen for the next three hours.

Painting the name "Hindenburg"

Painting the name "Hindenburg"

The ship did not have a name on its maiden flight; although the name Hindenburg had already been chosen, the ship had no christening ceremony, and the name was not added to the side of the zeppelin until March 24-25, almost three weeks after its first flight.  (Contrary to a popular misconception, Hitler never wanted the ship named for himself; he was strongly opposed to having his name attached to a vessel which might crash or burn.)

LZ-129 made a series of trial flights over the next few weeks, operated by the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin (the Zeppelin Company), which built and still owned the ship, and under the supervision of the Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt (DVL), the German Research Institute for Aviation, which was responsible for issuing its Airworthiness Certificate.

LZ-129 carried mail and passengers for the first time on March 23, 1936, and was turned over to the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei (DZR), the Germany Zeppelin Transport Company, which would operate the ship in commercial service.

In celebration of the anniversary, and as a special gift for two of my favorite hydrogen-heads, who have helped keep this blog accurate and on track, I have planned a special Hindenburg-related post for tomorrow.

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