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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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

mike March 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

Have been so often to Zeppelinheim,,, near Frankfurt and the field. A beautiful little cemetery in a wooded trail,,, a church just opposite. So many of these men that worked and survived, yes and died. So many survived, and came home in this beautiful hamlet,,, and are at rest. There is a zeppelin museum in this city. Not as big as Friedrichshaffen am/ Bod. A bronze of Hans Von Schiller outside the museum. Life size head and people do touch, as he was a beautiful man. A brave man. Wanted to take the Graff out again, keep up the schedule. Hugo said no! “Not until we find out”. Sadly this..”crazy people do crazy things”, is too often true. These men and there work and deeds, have been a beacon, yes!! they have been an inspiration,,,, to me…………………….M.

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Luis M. Moreno March 9, 2010 at 11:24 am

Curiosamente existen más dudas y enigmas sobre el “Hindenburg”, último de los grandes zeppelines operativos, que sobre los que le precedieron en sus exitos antes de la tragedia. La sombra de Hitler cubrira siempre parte de la historia alemana. Saludos.
Luis.

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Neil Hemstad March 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I am just curious. Why was there not a christening ceremony for the Hindenburg? There was one for the Graf Zeppelin and the Graf Zeppelin 2. Was Eckeners anti Nazi stand to blame or did the Nazis just not want to be part of it?

Neil S. Hemstad

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rick faust March 4, 2010 at 9:02 am

It blows me away all these great photo’s that turn up, love this web site!!!!I’d love to know how they laced the cotton cells with the gelatin latex and the ratio of cotton to latex. (Filstoff) Got that much from Rick Z. at Lakehurst. And all those collectors out there cut loose and let the world see whats hidden away!!! rick faust

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