Happy Birthday, Hindenburg – March 4, 1936

Today is the anniversary of Hindenburg‘s first flight.

After four years of construction the ship left its hangar at 3:08 in the afternoon of March 4, 1936.

LZ-129 leaves construction hangar for the first time: March 4, 1936

LZ-129 leaves construction hangar for the first time: March 4, 1936

A few minutes later the ship lifted off and slowly cruised over the Bodensee and Friedrichshafen for the next three hours. The flight had originally been planned for that morning but the cautious Hugo Eckener delayed the departure to wait for better weather in the afternoon.

LZ-129, with no name painted on bow, leaves hangar for a test flight in March, 1936

LZ-129, with no name painted on bow, leaves hangar for a test flight in March, 1936

LZ-129 did not carry a name on its maiden flight; the name Hindenburg had already been chosen but 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 that might crash or burn.)

Painting the name "Hindenburg"

Painting the name “Hindenburg”

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 then turned over to the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei (the Germany Zeppelin Transport Company), the airline that would operate the ship in commercial service.

The Hindenburg disaster on May 6, 1937 marked the end of the passenger airship era. Oh the Humanity!

 

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