Hindenburg Mystery Solved After 76 Years

    March 4, 2013
    Sean Patterson
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Over the years, many hypotheses about how the fire aboard the Hindenburg started have been proposed. One of the more popular theories in conspiracy theory circles is that the airship was sabotaged, by anyone from communists to Adolf Hitler. This week, a new documentary on the disaster will endorse one of the more mainstream explanations for the explosion.

According to a report by The Independent, the new documentary, to air Thursday on the U.K.’s Channel 4, states that static electricity may have set the zeppelin ablaze. In this scenario, an electrical storm had charged the airship while gas had somehow leaked into the Hindenburg’s ventilation shafts. Crew members who took up the zeppelin’s landing ropes may have grounded the ship’s frame, but not its skin, causing the spark that set off the fire at the tail end of the ship.

According to the Independent, a group of experts led by aeronautical engineer Jem Stansfield set fire to quite a few scale models of the Hindenburg before reaching this conclusion. The research team recreated different scenarios for the disaster using the replicas, and tested multiple theories, including sabotage.

The Hindenburg, a German passenger airship, caught fire on May 6, 1937 over an airfield at the Lakehurst Naval Airstation in New Jersey. The blaze took down the airship in under 20 seconds, causing the deaths of 35 of the 97 people on board the ship. Newsreel footage of the disaster, featuring commentary from radio reporter Herbert Morrison, has become famous and is the origin of the popularization of the phrase, “oh the humanity!”

  • Cynthia

    Oh, the Huge Manatee!

    • Joe

      Cynthia must be from Florida!

      Cute though.

      Although the loss of life was tragic it just goes to show how others have made sacrifices in order for us to gain the knowledge and technology we have today

  • Roscoe

    “may hypotheses about how the fire aboard the Hindenburg started have been proposed’

    those may hypotheses are the worst, get a june one .

  • PR

    Why is this news? In 1937 it was reported as static electricity having caused the crash.

  • therealguyfaux

    Of course, there’s always the conspiracy theory about how the US prevented Germany from access to non-flammable helium, making the Hindenburg a disaster eventually bound to happen, and why the US would have wanted to do so.

  • Brock Powers

    yea, Mythbusters already covered this, and in great detail.

  • Conran

    It still baffles me how anyone thought that using flammable gas was a good idea for a means of transport like this. It’s almost like building a ship from cardboard and just keeping your fingers that you get to where you need to be before it sinks.
    It also makes me wonder about the people who agreed to use it. The risks were well known, but people still climbed aboard and jut trusted the BS from state and marketeers. I wonder how that compares to today’s capitalist mentality and the lies or half-truths we are told about what is “safe” and what isn’t.

    P.S. I also agree that while it’s interesting this isn’t exactly news. There may have been a couple of conspiracy theories but there is no evidence for any explanation. In my opinion it’s just as likely to have been sabotage as a natural cause – this was public, broadcasting for all to see or hear, and the timing of it was perfect. Whatever you believe about the explanation, there were cameras and radio reporters there at the perfect time to see the humiliation of Germany. It could have happened at plenty of times before that, but it happened just as it was coming in to land… again, I wonder how that compares to other tragedies “conveniently” caught live in modern times.

    • jMES

      you mean like planes and their flammable fuel? silly that someone could possibly think its safe to build an entire wing as a fuel tank ey?