What Happened to Airships
Are you familiar with air balloons? Do you know the ones that fly through the skies? Hindenburg was an Airship who unfortunately was burning up and was trying to land New Jersey in 193. Ninety-seven people were trapped inside, and it was a pretty big deal at the time. The Hindenburg was the most fantastic passenger airship ever built. It was like 804Ft and 245 Meters in Height. It was basically like the Titanic of the Air. It could even make the Journey from Europe to the US in half the time. It was a shining example of the future of commercial of Air travel, and then all it took was a spark to bring the whole airship down. Air travel was on everyone's minds in the early 20th Century. Aviators like Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart became huge celebrities after they, But airships were something else entirely. Just two years after Lindberg famously crossed the Atlantic in a cramped monoplane, A giant German Zeppelin flew around the world, Carrying paid passengers, Who ate comfortably in a full-service dining room and slept in private berths.
Airships could do things that airplanes couldn't even imagine doing in the late 1920s, and people were really, really wrapped up in that and they thought that it was the future and in 1936, the biggest and grandest airship yet was built- the german LZ129, named A triumph of lighter-than-Aircraft, the likes of Which the World has never seen before. It was a monstrous feat of engineering and a symbol of Germany's rising performance in the world's greatest lighter-than-air ship, the Hindenburg! That superliner of the sky made her first trip to America from Germany in March 1936. That year, the Hindenburg made 17 Intercontinental round trips carrying passengers. It had a dining room, too, and a Reading room and a separate lounge. It even had a smoking room. A separately-ventilated space where passengers could smoke under the maitre'd Supervision Brings to an essential element in this story- Hydrogen gas is lighter than Air- and people had used it for centuries to lift aircraft like hot air balloons. It's highly flammable but cheap and easy to make- instead of its safer, non-flammable cousin, helium. But the United States, Who at this time produced the rare gas almost exclusively, embargoed its sale in 1925. Countries around the world developing lighter-than-air programs had to rely on hydrogen, and their airships were blowing up in the US, the hydrogen-powered Engine and killed 34 in 1922 in 1923, the French Navy airship Dixmude did too- 52 dead and in
1930 the UK ship R101 went down 48 dead. By the time the Hindenburg embarked on its First North American flight of 1937, not a single German passenger airships had crashed. They were very confident that, yes, this a dangerous, highly flammable gas. We know that. However, If you take the right precautions, you can control the risk. On May 6, 1937, that's not what they did and what's worse- the crew had good reason to believe it was leaking hydrogen- the back end was dipping toward the ground. They couldn't properly balance the ship. For three, the dirigible circled the landing field at Lakehurst, New Jersey, Dumping more water ballasts than ever before in vain efforts to level off. Plus, the Air charged with electrostatic activity due to a recent thunderstorm- and another one was on the way. That means they were trying to land enormous hydrogen quickly- airship, Electrically charged conditions, that was likely leaking flammable gas and..well…When the Hindenburg caught fire, a crew of reporters gathered for routine photo opp. Photojournalist Sam Shere only had time for a single exposure. Still, of all press photos taken, the best one was when the airship crashed, and it manages to frame the entire disaster perfectly. The panicked crowd running because of newsreel cameras, with the hastily-dumped water ballasts still visible in the background the name "Hindenburg" barely illuminated by the bright flames lighting up the entire top of and the faulty tail, now wholly engulfed- just moments before the flames burst out of the nose and brought the ship crashing to the ground. The image of Hindenburg burning was like anything people had seen before- a disaster photographed as it was taking place in the end, out of 97 people on board, only 35 plus one crewmen on the ground-died. That means about two-thirds of the people inside of that actually escaped. But that didn't matter. Hydrogen airships never flew paid passengers ever again after that day. The Hindenburg was the first of even the deadliest passenger airship disaster. It was just the one that was caught on film. And that's why it was the last.