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A Closer Look at the Hindenburg Explosion

On May 6, 1937, a German airship known as the Hindenburg exploded in Manchester Township, New Jersey, while holding 97 people. Read on to learn more about this creation that resulted in one of history’s most notorious disasters.

Creation of the Hindenburg

The Hindenburg was completed in 1936 and is still the largest aircraft to ever take flight. It measured 804 feet long and had 16 large cells to hold a lifting gas — bringing this massive ship into the sky. The initial idea was to fill the cells with helium, but due to export restrictions, the German creators were forced to use an extremely flammable alternative — hydrogen. Well aware of the dangers involved using this gas, the creators coated the cells with a flame-resistant material — which unfortunately wouldn’t be enough.

The inside of the Hindenburg was very luxurious and included cabins, dining halls and, greatest of all, massive windows for passengers to experience the incredible views only possible in an airship like itself.

The Journey

On May 3, 1937, the Hindenburg took off from Frankfurt to make a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean with Max Pruss serving as captain. It gave its passengers quick, effortless access to some of the world’s most incredible destinations, including:

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  • Cologne, Germany
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Beachy Head, United Kingdom
  • Greenland
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • New York City, New York
    Hindenburg over New York
    The Hindenburg flying over New York City — Sourced by commons.wikimedia.org

A Deadly Disaster

After crossing the New Jersey state line on May 6, just minutes before the Hindenburg was about to successfully end its journey, an electric spark caused the ship – floating from a flammable gas – to become engulfed in flames and utterly destroyed in a matter of seconds. Of the 97 people aboard this airship, 35 lost their lives. It’s remembered as being one of the most well-known catastrophes — largely because it was one of the first to be filmed — and led to the just-budding use of airship travel to come to an abrupt ending.


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