May 6, 1937 – The Hindenburg Disaster

On this day in 1937 the Hindenburg burst into flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey, ending the era of passenger airship travel.

hindenburg-disaster-hull-buckle

The Hindenburg had been launched on March 4, 1936, and had completed 62 successful flights, including multiple crossings of the North and South Atlantic, before crashing at the American naval base at Lakehurst while attempting to land.  The accident killed 35 of the 97 passengers and crew aboard the airship, and one member of the ground crew.

The zeppelin was inflated with 7 million cubic feet of highly-flammable hydrogen gas (of which about 5-6 million cubic feet remained at the end of its transatlantic crossing), and the most likely cause of the fire was the ignition of hydrogen, which had escaped from one of the ship’s gas cells, by an electrostatic discharge; the ship was landing in an area of such severe thunderstorm activity that nearby rubber factories had been closed because of the risk of explosion from static discharge.  (Theories that the Hindenburg’s paint or fabric covering was somehow responsible for the tragedy have been discredited.)

Hindenburg Passenger Cabin

Hindenburg Passenger Cabin

The Hindenburg had sleeping berths for 72 passengers, who enjoyed luxurious accomodations which included a dining room, a writing room, a lounge with an aluminum piano, and a smoking room.

Hindenburg was the fastest way to cross the Atlantic at the time, and the airship’s 2-1/2 day voyage between Europe and America took half the time required by the fastest ocean liners of the day.

 

The Hindenburg disaster was recently featured on the NBC show Timeless and a lot of people have been asking about Kate Drummond.

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6 Comments on "May 6, 1937 – The Hindenburg Disaster"

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Andrea

I’ve researched and can’t find the women Kate Drummond who was a writer/reporter, she died while the Hindenburg was burning down and crashed over her. I need help to find images of her and her writings.

kate

I agree with neil, this was a travesty and ended an era purely because of an image. How upsetting it is think of what we could’ve become by using the air ship. 🙁

Neil Hemstad
I have a few thoughts on what happened to the Hindenburg. The sad part of it was that but for one thing going wrong at the wrong time the whole adventure went to ashes. The sinking of the Titanic did not spell the end of the ocean liner in 1912. If the germans did have their own helium supplies then the next Zeppelin the LZ 130 would have taken her place in passenger service. It just seems to me that Goering and Hitler just did not want to risk another crash using a hydrogen filled airship to give germany a… Read more »
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