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76th Anniversary of the Hindenburg Disaster...

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by RayB, May 6, 2012.

  1. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

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    Seventy-five years ago today, a little after 7:00 p.m., eastern time, the luxury airliner, Hindenburg, exploded and burned while docking at Lakehurst, NJ.

    This was the first trip of its second season of fast Transatlantic travel, and the first aircraft to offer Transatlantic passenger service by air. The Hindenburg had spent some of the winter months offering fast air travel to South America.

    I've read just about everything I could regarding the Hindenburg accident, and as best as I can surmise, the most likely cause of the tragedy resulted from a series of unfortunate decisions made by the ship's captain, Max Pruss, while landing in post thunderstorm skies in a light rain. These decisions included:

    - A full-speed hard-turn on the final approach to the field, which may have snapped a bracing wire, which slashed a gas cell (several crew reported cell number 3, near the tail, had looked deflated before the crash). The ship's forward progress was then halted by throwing the engines aggressively into reverse—something announcer Herb Morrison commented on at the time. Airships were traditionally not handled with such panache.

    - The valving of hydrogen gas during the ship's slow, final approach to the mooring mast. The slow speed would not facilitate the rapid and complete venting of hydrogen gas from the ship's gas shafts—one located atop the hull, just ahead of the rear vertical stabilizer (fin).

    - The "high landing", which was a new approach for landing the Zeppelin using far fewer ground personnel. The high landing approach involved winching the ship down to the mast from a higher altitude via the sturdy nose cable. The problem is, in air highly charged with electricity this approach did not give the ship adequate time to equalize its charge with the ground, which invited increased static electricity along the hull.

    - By themselves, these decisions might not have appeared to be significant risks, but combined, they invited disaster.

    Witnesses stated that the fire broke out atop the hull, just ahead of the upper tail fin, and one crewman reported hearing a “pop”, looking up, and seeing a bright glow within a gas cell adjacent to a gas ventilation shaft, just ahead of the upper vertical stabilizer.

    At least one witness, a professor from Princeton, reported seeing Saint Elmo’s Fire (a static electric display) playing atop the hull, just ahead of the upper tail fin (where the fire started).

    I did read the NASA engineer, Addison Bain’s report in the late 90’s, asserting that the doping compound used on the Hindenburg's outer cover ignited violently when subjected to an electrical charge, and that that was the cause of the disaster. While this is clearly plausible, and while that feature certainly would have accelerated the blaze, there is no proof that it caused the accident, since the Hindenburg and Graf Zeppelin had been exposed to static charges before without incident.

    Bain’s further assertion that the hydrogen lifting gas used did not cause the fire, and that the ship would have caught fire and burned anyway (at least one US Navy blimp caught fire and burned this way) does not address the spectacular violence of what was clearly a hydrogen-fed inferno.

    Everybody knows that the Hindenburg exploded, and that thirty-five people died. But I thought some of you might enjoy seeing the ship for the awesome sight it was before the disaster, and this link offers some great footage to pick from:

    http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/vi...4bf76d55a35a054-223629607661?q=The Hindenburg

    Just look at the size of that thing! That they actually built and flew something like this still takes my breath away! :wow:

    I just happened to think of this an hour ago, as Judy and I watched a light rain falling here, a little after 7:00 p.m., on May 6th.

    At any rate, we remember. :frown:

    --Ray

    P.S. If I could time travel, I'd still want to fly in this thing! :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  2. NeverMore1701

    NeverMore1701 Fear no Evil Platinum Member

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  3. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

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    Okay, that's just sick... :shakehead:

    --Ray

    P.S. Once, when Judy tried on a silver windbreaker, and asked me what I thought, and I replied, "Oh, the humanity!", well, it was a lonely rest of the evening... :sadangel:
     
  4. RHVEtte

    RHVEtte

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    The weirdest thing I remember about the Hindenburg was that 32 people were killed, including 31 passengers and crew. Can you imagine being the unlucky SOB that had a flaming zeppelin fall on him?
     
  5. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

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    I forgot that poor guy on the ground... :sigh:

    The actual toll according to this, was 36-dead:

    http://www.airships.net/hindenburg/disaster

    Scroll down to Final Toll...

    --Ray
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  6. Dennis in MA

    Dennis in MA Get off my lawn

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    Knew a survivor. He was burnt pretty badly on his face and hands. Would never talk about it and denied it. (But his name is on the manifest.) He must be gone by now.
     
  7. Adjuster

    Adjuster

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    So it wasnt a bomb and a bunch of anti Nazi Germans? Dang movies!




    /
     
  8. rhikdavis

    rhikdavis U.S. Veteran

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    Also the first reporting of "What's this button do?".
     
  9. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

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    The ship's officers were convinced it was sabotage...

    The man most responsible for the development of the D-LZ127 Graf Zeppelin and the D-LZ129 Hindenburg airships, as well as the Zeppelin Company itself at that time, was Dr. Hugo Eckener, and he believed that a combination of unfortunate decisions made by Captain Max Pruss, resulted in the tragedy. From all that I've been able to read on this since the early 70's, I tend to agree.

    Chancellor Hitler concluded that the Hindenburg accident was, “An act of God".

    A truly remarkable man, Dr. Eckener, with his signature gray crew cut and goatee, can be seen here... He and his officers and ship were welcomed by NYC with ticker tape parades:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=VG_wnJeH0fk&feature=endscreen

    And with equal enthusiasm by the Japanese:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvnQZ8UGI0U&feature=relmfu"]Zeppelin airship visits Japan in 1929 日本ではツェッペリンの - YouTube[/ame]

    Dr. Eckener was in his late 60's, when he did all this!

    While the Hindenburg's 1936 season had been flawless, and while the Graf Zeppelin had achieved many aviation firsts in over a million miles of successful passenger air travel, the Hindenburg accident ended the era of passenger travel by airship. That footage in front of those newsreel cameras was just too much to overcome, and the US was not about to share its monopoly on helium with a potential enemy, gearing for war.

    Travel aboard the Hindenburg offered passengers a level of comfort unequaled yet today, by any commercial aircraft:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jk-lic6UQc&feature=related"]Hindenburg A Deck Video - YouTube[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHZD3yAXSNc&feature=related"]The Hindenburg in Home Movies - YouTube[/ame]

    This new movie on the Hindenburg, looks intriguing:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzy0JeV3M3E&feature=related"]Timothy James - "Hindenburg 2011" - Filmmusik - Das Beste - YouTube[/ame]

    Most people aren't aware that the Hindenburg had a nearly identical counterpart in a new airship designated the D-LZ130, also named, Graf Zeppelin. While flown on several occasions, the D-LZ130 was never put into transatlantic or the South American service, and was eventually dismantled and scrapped--it's duralumin frame cannibalized for the construction of war planes.

    --Ray
     
  10. airmotive

    airmotive Tin Kicker

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    OP...you've done your homework! Welcome to the 'Swiss Cheese' model of aircraft accident investigation. No single cause. A little bit of pure happenstance and voila...all the holes in your Swiss cheese line up (an accident).
    Aviation safety is the process of plugging the holes in your Swiss cheese before happenstance lines them up.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  11. Eurodriver

    Eurodriver

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    So is it 75 years or 76?
     
  12. gwalchmai

    gwalchmai Lucky Member

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    I thought turkeys could fly...
     
  13. raven11

    raven11

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    Pretty interesting link RayB I was surprised to learn that the flight by Airship was almost as fast as the flight by Seaplane
     
  14. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

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    2012 - 1937 = 75

    A typo on my part; and you can't fix a Thread Title as it appears on the forum, once posted.

    --Ray
     
  15. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

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    Thank you! :wavey:

    Fascinating stuff, in a dark way... :frown:

    Yeah, I brushed over other details, like the fact that the ship was heavy at the tail, so much so, that they sent men into the bow to help level her off. Besides, It was counter-argued that the slip stream had driven the rain aft, causing the tail heaviness. :dunno:

    To Captain Pruss' credit, he and Captain Ernst Lehmann, along with others of the command crew, ran back into that inferno to drag people out. Pruss and Lehmann were Nazis, and while several of their passengers were Jewish, both men were captains first, and these people were their charges. :cool:

    Pruss was badly burned and permanently disfigured, while Lehmann died of his extensive burns. Both men could have walked away, a little scorched, but essentially unharmed; but they didn't. :sigh:

    --Ray
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  16. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

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    Darkly funny; and a classic WKRP episode!

    --Ray
     
  17. RayB

    RayB Retired Member

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    Thanks! :supergrin:

    Yeah, and in any case, much faster than an ocean liner! It is said, airsickness was unheard of on an airship! :fred:

    I thought this Zeppelin travel brochure was interesting:

    http://www.airships.net/airship-travel-brochure

    And this journalist's account is fascinating:

    http://www.airships.net/hindenburg/flight-schedule/maiden-voyage/passenger-account

    And here's one passenger's entry in his diary:

    http://www.airships.net/hindenburg/flight-schedule/hindenburg-flight-passenger-diary

    How I'd love to experience this! :hearts:

    --Ray