Last Sunday, May 6, marked the 75th anniversary of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. The massive German airship caught fire while attempting to land near Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 35 people aboard, plus one ground crew member. Of the 97 passengers and crew members on board, 62 managed to survive. The horrifying incident was captured by reporters and photographers and replayed on radio broadcasts, in newsprint, and on newsreels. News of the disaster led to a public loss of confidence in airship travel, ending an era.
Top: The Hindenburg floats past the Empire State Building over Manhattan on August 8, 1936, en route to Lakehurst, New Jersey, from Germany.
Bottom: As the lifting Hydrogen gas burned and escaped from the rear of the Hindenburg, the tail dropped to the ground, sending a burst of flame punching through the nose. Ground crew below scatter to flee the inferno.
On this day in 1937, the Hindenburg, a Nazi hydrogen filled airship, burst into flames as it attempted to land at New Jersey’s Lakehurt Navy Air Base. The airship had departed from Frankfurt, Germany and carried 36 passengers and sixty-one crew members.
As the airship was landing, it burst into flames and began to fall 200 feet to the ground. Thirty-five people lost their lives, while others suffered major injuries.
Many people still argue on what caused the disaster, from engine failure to sabotage. Think you know? Explore this diagram of the Hindenburg and see if you can come up with any theories.
George Hardie, artwork for the debut album of Led Zeppelin, 1969.
The cover ... shows the Hindenburg airship, in all its phallic glory, going down in flames. The image did a pretty good job of encapsulating the music inside: sex, catastrophe and things blowing up. Greg Kot, Rolling Stone.
Maintenance crewmen climbing on top of Graf Zeppelin to repair damage caused by storm over the Atlantic Ocean during flight, 1934. The loss of the Hindenburg in 1937, shattered public faith in the safety of hydrogen-filled airships. The Graf Zeppelin retired in 1937. Attempts were made to use helium but this wasn’t commercially viable as it was expensive and because of the lack of availability.