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The Post  
Lakehurst, NJ, Hindenburg Disaster 75 years later
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 05/06/12 9:11 pm | updated: 05/06/12 9:11 pm
The Hindenburg luxury airliner was the pride of Adolf Hitler's Germany. The trans-atlantic dirigible was a part of a fleet of airships that the Nazi nation flew around the world built by the Zeppelin company. On May 6, 1937 the Hindenburg was coming into a routine docking with its air mast at the airfield in Lakehurst, NJ, Ocean County when it suddenly caught fire and was destroyed in seconds as it crashed to the ground.

The ship was running late that final day of it's trip from Frankfurt, Germany. It passed over Boston in the morning, drew crowds in the streets to view it passing over Manhattan around 4pm, and had to bide its time waiting for poor weather to pass by Lakehurst by flying along Jersey shore points before approaching at 7pm. It had to do a high landing, dropping it ropes from 295 ft.

The actual cause of the fire remains unknown to this day. There are several hypotheses including sabotage, static electricity sparks, lightning, etc. The fire started at 7:25 and only took about :35 seconds to destroy the entire ship. Out of the 36 passengers and 61 crew, 13 passengers and 22 crew died plus 1 ground crew member.

This was one of the first disasters captured on film as it happened, making into movie house newsreels, front page newspapers, and radio across the nation. Herbert Morrison's eyewitness radio coverage for WLS in Chicago is iconic in it's passion and relating the terror of the event. His quote, "Oh! The humanity!" has long endured in our culture.

This Hindenburg crash effectively put an end to the commercial passenger airship industry. Today all modern airships are filled with the nonflammable gas helium instead of extremely flammable hydrogen like the Hindenburg.

The 75 annual Lighter-than-Air memorial service is set for 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Lakehurst’s Hangar 1 where the Hindenburg was housed during earlier visits. The observance is open to the public.

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