The Hindenburg Disaster

May 3, 2011

The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937. The German lighter-than-air, rigid frame, passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg left Frankfurt Germany on the evening of May 3. At approximately 7:00 pm, May 6, 1937, it approached Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJ adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board, 35 people died. In addition, another person was killed on the ground. The actual cause of the fire remains unknown. There were many hypotheses, but none proven. This crash was the deathblow to the rigid frame lighter-than-air airship era.

The Hindenburg was originally designed to use helium gas. Due to a US embargo on the exportation of helium prior to WWII, hydrogen was used to make the airship buoyant. Hydrogen is extremely flammable and burns intensely in air. As a result of the Hindenburg fire, hydrogen was banned from being used in this application.

Airships are no longer used for passenger transport, but they are used for advertising, sightseeing, surveillance and research. The Goodyear Blimp is a fixture over key football games.