The German airship ‘Hindenburg’ (LZ-129) in flames after the disaster on its arrival at Lakehurst, New Jersey. (GettyImages)
Today the 6th of May marks the 77th anniversary of the famous Hindenburg disaster. It occurred at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. This is probably the most well known airship disaster in history and the Hindenburg is the poster child for why hydrogen isn’t used in airships today. In fact the disaster is a major reason why airships aren’t as popular as they once were, although airplanes are main culprits.
The Hindenburg was a German airship that caught fire (which was quite likely to happen since it was filled with 200,000 cubic metres of hydrogen, a highly flammable gas) The Hindenburg class of airships were the largest aircrafts ever built. Ever.
The Hindenburg was the last rigid passenger aircrafts built in Germany. The famous disaster caused 36 deaths though amazingly 62 people onboard survived the inferno. This marked the end of the airship era.(Even though airplane disasters have caused far more deaths than airship disasters we continue to use them.)
While we still have a few airships around today they’re all filled with helium, which is an inert gas meaning it isn’t likely to blow up in your face. The Hindenburg disaster was actually recorded on video camera while Herbert Morrison gave an eyewitness account of the disaster on the radio in what is one of the most famous radio broadcasts ever.