A Mystery Still Today

The Birth of the Hindenburg

"The Hindenburg was the Concorde of its day." It was a little over 800 feet from its nose to its massive tail fins. To ride on the airship was a luxury in itself.

The Hindenburg: A Zeppelin Like No Other

Hindenburg's passenger could travel from Europe to North and South America in half the time it took the fastest ocean liner, and the people traveled in luxurious interiors that would never again be paralleled in the air. Passengers enjoyed meals in elegant dining rooms as well as listen to an aluminum piano in a modern lounge. They slept in comfortable cabins or even have a cigarette in the ship's smoking room. (I'm not so sure I would want to have an open flame while encapsulated by thousands of pound of hydrogen- one of the most flammable gases.)

Travel by zeppelin was hugely popular, In fact, they were quite popular for more than thirty years. Tens of thousands of passengers flew over a million miles on various zeppelin flights without a single injury. This all came to a fiery end in a matter of seconds due to the Hindenburg's tragedy.

Hindenburg's Fiery Fatal Demise

While the cause of the disaster is still not known for sure, several German and American scientists agree on the primary possible cause. It seems clear that the Hindenburg disaster was caused by an electrostatic discharge, more commonly known as a spark. This single spark ignited some hydrogen that was leaking from somewhere. The spark was most likely caused by a difference in electrical potential between the airship and the surrounding air. The airship was approximately 200 feet above the airfield in an electrically charged atmosphere, but the ship's metal framework was grounded by its landing line. The difference in electrical potential very likely caused a spark to jump from the ship's fabric covering to the ship's framework. However, there are many other theories that point to less likely explanations.

What caused the hydrogen leak? That continues to be a mystery. We do know for certain though that there was a significant leak before the onset of the disaster. No evidence of sabotage was ever found. What we do know for sure is that the Hindenburg was destroyed in 32 seconds.

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The Last Flight of the Hindenburg

Hindenburg began her last flight on May 3, 1937, carrying 36 passengers and 61 crew members. The ship left the Frankfurt airfield at 7:16 pm , flew over Cologne, crossed the Netherlands, and headed across the Atlantic. By noon on May 6th, the ship had reached the skyscrapers of Manhattan in New York City. Weather conditions delayed the landing considerable. Captain Pruss chose to wait out the storm until conditions were more suitable for landing.

Learned Lessons

Sadly, Germans nor Americans learned a great deal due to this tragedy. Why? In part, it is due to the fact that we aren't one-hundred percent certain as to what caused the fire. airplane travel was quickly becoming a more effective and efficient means of travel. Therefore, we simply adopted a new type of transportation and zeppelins were quickly forgotten.

Written and designed by Sandra D. Sanders

Works Cited

Billings, Matt. Airships of Germany.

Dodds, Eric and Elizabeth. "The Hindenburg".

History Channel.com. "The Hindenburg".

Wikipedia. "The Hindenburg".