Hindenburg disaster: The end of the airship era

BY Joe Lo and Adolfo Arranz
May 6, 2019

Eighty-two years ago on May 6, 1937, the German airship LZ129 Hindenburg claimed 36 lives when it caught fire during its landing in New Jersey, United States. The disaster was spectacularly caught on camera and broadcast around the world, shattering public confidence in large passenger airships – a form of transport that had once been lauded as the future of travel.

Zeppelin LZ129

Flight paths in 1936-37

Route to disaster

Inside the airship

The mooring process

Ground crew used ropes to manoeuvre the ship into position

The explosion occurred in the stern of the airship as it was being moored

Most probable cause

The fire that caused the Hindenburg disaster was most probably ignited by a spark between the ship’s outer cover and its framework

1 The ship passed through rain before arriving at Lakehurst Naval Air Station – perfect conditions to create electrical charges

2 Different electrical charges between the airship and the ground caused a spark that ignited a gas leak

3 The fire spread through gas cells until it destroyed the ship


Airship accidents

Dozens of hydrogen airships had previously exploded or caught fire. The Hindenburg disaster finally convinced the world that hydrogen was not a safe gas for airships carrying passengers

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