On this day May 6, 1937

The German zeppelin Hindenburg catches fire and is destroyed within a minute while attempting to dock at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Thirty-six people are killed.

Hindenburg catching fire

Hindenburg catching fire

The disaster took place as the German rigid airship Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed within one minute while attempting to dock at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey.

Of the 97 people on board, 35 people died in addition to one fatality on the ground.

The disaster is well recorded because of the significant extent of newsreel coverage and photographs, as well as Herbert Morrison’s recorded, on-the-scene, eyewitness radio report being made from the landing field for station WLS in Chicago which was broadcast the next day.

Heavy publicity about the first transatlantic passenger flight of the year by Zeppelin to the U.S. attracted a large number of journalists to the landing. (The airship had already made one round trip from Germany to Brazil that year.)

The actual cause of the fire remains unknown, although a variety of theories have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire.

The accident served to shatter public confidence, and marked the end of the giant, passenger carrying rigid airships.


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