I was at Lakehurst, New Jersey last weekend for the memorial service in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster and to reconnect with old friends from the LTA world.
The Memorial Service
The memorial service was a moving tribute to both the victims of the disaster and the U.S. Navy personnel who heroically saved so many lives.
The service was attended by a relatively large crowd of approximately 200 people including officers, sailors, soldiers, and airmen from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Special guests included Alexander Pruss, whose grandfather, Captain Max Pruss, was in command of Hindenburg’s last voyage; Dr. Horst Schirmer, whose father, Dr. Max Schirmer, was an engineer and aerodynamicist who designed important features of the ship, and who flew aboard Hindenburg as a child; Robert Buchanan, who was a teenage member of the civilian ground crew when the ship crashed; and Mary Alice Noone, whose grandfather Burtis Dolan died in the crash.
Speakers at the service included Carl Jablonski and airship historian Rick Zitarosa of the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society.
The ceremony was filmed by Rick Malkames, using the same camera that Hearst newsreel cameraman James J. Seeley used on May 6, 1937 to record the disaster.
The Memorial Dinner Sponsored by Navy Lakehurst Historical Society
A special memorial dinner was held the night before the service; speakers included Alexander Pruss, Horst Schirmer, Robert Buchanan, Rick Zitarosa, and Carl Jablonski, among others.
Personal Fun and Friendship at Lakehurst
The weekend was also an opportunity for me to spend time with some of my old friends in LTA community, including Rick Zitarosa of NLHS, Patrick Russell of “Faces of the Hindenburg,” and Cheryl Ganz of the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, who are three of the most knowledgeable Hindenburg scholars in the world. I also spent many enjoyable hours discussing technical aspects of the Hindenburg’s design with the erudite and gentlemanly Horst Schirmer.
While at Lakehurst, Rick Zitarosa, Patrick Russell and I explored Hangar One, the crash site, and the area where the old high mast was located. Rick kindly gave us a tour of artifacts from Lakehurst’s past as the center of American LTA aviation.
The Navy Lakehurst Historical Society has also done a wonderful job restoring the replica of the control car used in the movie “The Hindenburg” (1975), and since I have written extensively about the ship’s instruments and flight procedures it was a real pleasure to see the recent restoration. Cheryl, Patrick, and I had fun exploring the car and posing for photos.
Finally, my colleagues and I discovered new and important information about the cause of the Hindenburg crash. It was an exciting development that we will discuss publicly in the future.
My weekend in Lakehurst was a wonderful experience, both to honor and commemorate those who died in the tragedy, and to spend time with valued friends and colleagues.