The Hindenburg disaster
Hindenburg is a German passenger airship, that crashed in 1937, when tried to land at New York’s Lakehurst Airport, coming from Frankfurt due to the ignition of hydrogen carrying the airship, killing 36 of the 96 passengers on board, this disaster has put an end to the use of balloons in regular passenger services.
The 1920s and 1930s were considered a golden age for air vehicles, Germans particularly liked the balloon technology invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a pioneer in the aviation industry.
The Zeppelins airships became the title of luxury and travel and attracted the wealthy and powerful in Europe and North and South America.
As the Nazis grew in power in Germany, the giant balloons were fitted with swastikas on their tails, turning them into promotional tools.
The Hindenburg Airship:
The balloon was 800 feet long and began its activities in 1936, it is considered as the star of the “Zeppelin” Fleet during the Third Reich. This luxurious airship offers a breathtaking air and sea view, a luxurious dining room, a lightweight piano, and even a smoking room.
On May 3, 1937, Hindenburg left Frankfurt for his first transatlantic voyage that season and the journey across the Atlantic took two and a half days, less than the time the ships took at that time.
Three days later, a thunderstorm hit the east coast of the United States, delaying the landing of the airship for several hours.
On the night of May 6, 1937, the era of commercial flights ended, while Hindenburg was trying to land, suddenly bursting into flames. The airship was laced with hydrogen, killing 36 passengers and the world was shocked to see the pictures of the balloon burning.
In about thirty seconds, the largest air vehicle ever turned into a rolling fireball that hit the Lake-Hurst Air Force Base in New Jersey.
About the Disaster:
Although the Hindenburg explosion was not the deadliest air crash in history, and its toll of deaths is relatively moderate compared to several air events today, but the crash of the German airship is still considered after 75 years of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.
“It was one of the first disasters to be documented,” said Carl Jablonsky, president of the Navy Lake-Hurst Historical Society, which maintains the history of Lake Hurst.
He added: “We all heard of Titanic, but all we know about it is the number of survivors, but for Hindenburg, we have a video, a recording of radio broadcasts and pictures.”
At that time, the videotape showed horrific images of the airship throughout the United States and abroad.
At the scene of the incident, radio reporter Herbert Morrison, 31, from Chicago, was reporting the facts, and his own narrative of events had caused chills to local people. “There was a fire in it when it fell, it would explode”, He said.
Although the majority of passengers and crew survived, Morrison, referred to “one of the worst disasters in the world”.
“The actual reason remains unknown,” Jablonski said.
American and German investigators at that time concluded, that a static electric charge led to the combustion of hydrogen, which was leaking through a small hole, which eventually caused the explosion of the entire balloon.