The site of one of history’s most horrific aviation tragedies is now open to the American public.
Nazi German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg, came into land in Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937. The resulting accident took the lives of 35 people.
Because the flight landing was such a highly publicized event, news cameramen and photographers were at the site in their droves. Many of them captured the full extent of the disaster as it happened.
Footage of the Hindenburg airship catching fire and disintegrating in a raging inferno was quickly broadcast around the world, captivating all that saw it.
It was an event that quickly entered the public consciousness and has remained infamous ever since.
History of the Hindenburg Disaster
The accident took place during an attempt to land at Lakehurst Naval Air Station. Designed by the Nazis who did not have access to helium in Germany at the time, the airship was filled with highly flammable hydrogen.
The most probable cause of the disaster is that the Hindenburg became electrically charged during a thunderstorm it had flown through before landing.
Upon approaching the ground, the electricity was discharged into the earth, causing a spark that ignited the hydrogen.
This started a fire that raged through the hydrogen-filled airship, destroying the skin of the craft within seconds.
The resulting fireball engulfed the structure that housed the crew and passengers which promptly crashed to the ground.
Incredibly, 62 passengers and crew escaped with their lives, a high amount considering the speed in which it all happened.
The film footage of the disaster in real-time shocked the world. It was one of the first times such a spectacle had been captured live and the scene quickly became embedded in the public’s consciousness.
Images of the half ablaze zeppelin are some of the most recognizable in the history of photography. Those same images graced the front pages of newspapers from all continents.
A famous radio broadcast by WLS Chicago featured reporter Herbert Morrison’s eyewitness account. In this, he described the details of the disaster while also exclaiming “Oh, the humanity!”. Words that have since become a catchphrase, however, very few may actually know where it came from.
And let’s not forget Led Zeppelin, (whose famous first album featured a version of the Hindenburg crash image). The band helped solidify the disaster and the related imagery into popular culture.
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Where is the Hindenburg Crash Site?
- Address: Landsdowne Rd, Lakehurst, NJ 08733, United States
- Contact: Navy Lakehurst Historical Society
- Phone: 732-818-7520
The Hindenburg Crash Site Today
The Navy Lakehurst Historical Society commemorates the victims of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster while providing tours of the crash site.
However, the spot where the disaster took place is on the grounds of a military restricted area. The active Navy base is only open to US citizens while on an escorted tour with the Historical Society, (Book Here).
You must also book weeks in advance because of the screening process.
When you reach the site there is very little to see in all honesty. The footprint of the crash, (which is located on a flat expanse of the airfield), is marked by an anchor chain and filled with cement.
There is also metal silhouette in the shape of the zeppelin supported on a small pole.
The tour will also take you inside one of the giant hangars at the base. This is where the Hindenburg would have been kept after docking had it landed safely. Inside are a number of Hindenburg-artefacts.
The site has been a Registered National Historic Landmark since 1961.
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Good to know
Tours are held every Wednesday and the second and fourth Saturday of the month. Ensure to make a tour request at least two weeks in advance due to the screening time.