The crash of the airship, the Hindenburg, occurred on May 6, 1937. As the airship was attempting to dock at the Lakehurst Naval Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey, it caught fire, killing 35 people of the 97 people on board the ship, as well as, one of the crewman on the ground. It remains a mystery to this day what exactly caused the fire and many people believe it to be sabotage.
The broadcast of Herbert Morrison, as he watched the disaster unfold, forever remains a part of history, as Morrison cries, “Oh, the humanity!” Morrison’s broadcast, however, was a radio broadcast, which has been dubbed over the film coverage, making it seem a part of the film coverage.
Even to this day, there is no conclusive report of what occurred on the Hindenburg that day; only many theories. There have been documentaries on the disaster, with each one focusing on different theories. Some of these theories focus on:
- Sabotage Theory – Many of the crew members insisted it was sabotage, probably as a way to cover their own mistakes that may have led to the disaster.
- Static Spark Theory – Many believe because the ship had gone through an area of high humidity and electric charge that was the result of a nearby thunderstorm. This then caused a static electricity spark to ignite the hydrogen that was on the outer skin of the airship.
- Lightning Theory – Some believe that the airship was struck by lightning, which then, ignited the hydrogen that was being vented as it was preparing to land.
- Engine Failure Theory – Some believe that the airship’s engines backfired, releasing sparks and igniting the ship’s outer skin.
- Incendiary Paint Theory – some believe that the paint that was used on the skin of the airship resulted in causing it to ignite.
- Hydrogen Theory – There are some who claim that there was a hydrogen leak which caused the fire. There were many wires that were used to brace the airship and one or several may have snapped, puncturing an internal gas cell.
If you would like to read more about the different theories that have been brought up throughout the years, click here.
This disaster ended the era of the airship. Although there were other accidents involving the zeppelin and other accidents claimed more lives than the Hindenburg, this event was captured on film. Another reason that airships lost popularity was due to Pan American’s first scheduled flight over the Pacific Ocean. It became more cost-effective for passengers to book an airplane than an airship.