William Franklin warns Dartmouth of repercussions from Lexington and Concord, 1775
Harry Gant is oldest NASCAR winner -- again, 1991
Grant and Lee continue fighting in the Wilderness, 1864
Gorbachev reviews the Cold War, 1992
The theft of Duchess of Devonshire stirs interest, 1876
Hindenburg explodes in New Jersey, 1937
The Hindenburg disaster, 1937
First four-minute mile, 1954
Final episode of Friends airs on NBC, 2004
John Steinbeck wins a Pulitzer for The Grapes of Wrath, 1940
Spinal Tap stages a "comeback" at CBGB's in New York City, 1984
Hangman George Maledon dies, 1911
FDR creates the WPA, 1933
Roger Bannister breaks four-minutes mile, 1954
Students launch nationwide protest, 1970
South Vietnamese defenders hold on to An Loc, 1972
World War I
Second Battle of Krithia, Gallipoli, 1915
World War II
All American forces in the Philippines surrender unconditionally, 1942
English Channel tunnel opens, 1994
May 6, 1937:
The Hindenburg disaster
The airship Hindenburg, the largest dirigible ever built and the pride of Nazi Germany, bursts into flames upon touching its mooring mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey, killing 36 passengers and crewmembers.
Frenchman Henri Giffard constructed the first successful airship in 1852. His hydrogen-filled blimp carried a three-horsepower steam engine that turned a large propeller and flew at a speed of six miles per hour. The rigid airship, often known as the "zeppelin" after the last name of its innovator, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was developed by the Germans in the late 19th century. Unlike French airships, the German ships had a light framework of metal girders that protected a gas-filled interior. However, like Giffard's airship, they were lifted by highly flammable hydrogen gas and vulnerable to explosion. Large enough to carry substantial numbers of passengers, one of the most famous rigid airships was the Graf Zeppelin, a dirigible that traveled around the world in 1929. In the 1930s, the Graf Zeppelin pioneered the first transatlantic air service, leading to the construction of the Hindenburg, a larger passenger airship.
On May 3, 1937, the Hindenburg left Frankfurt, Germany, for a journey across the Atlantic to Lakehurst's Navy Air Base. Stretching 804 feet from stern to bow, it carried 36 passengers and crew of 61. While attempting to moor at Lakehurst, the airship suddenly burst into flames, probably after a spark ignited its hydrogen core. Rapidly falling 200 feet to the ground, the hull of the airship incinerated within seconds. Thirteen passengers, 21 crewmen, and 1 civilian member of the ground crew lost their lives, and most of the survivors suffered substantial injuries.
Radio announcer Herb Morrison, who came to Lakehurst to record a routine voice-over for an NBC newsreel, immortalized the Hindenberg disaster in a famous on-the-scene description in which he emotionally declared, "Oh, the humanity!" The recording of Morrison's commentary was immediately flown to New York, where it was aired as part of America's first coast-to-coast radio news broadcast. Lighter-than-air passenger travel rapidly fell out of favor after the Hindenberg disaster, and no rigid airships survived World War II.
I always think of my sister in-law when I see the Hindenburg, I don't know if that has to do with the disaster part or the proportions of the ship.