Hindenburg disaster

06/05/1937 New Jersey, USA

Hindenburg disaster

Type of Fire

Hydrogen gas

Ignition Source

Electrostatic discharge


32 seconds


35 fatalities


Loss of life

What was the Hindenburg disaster?

The Hindenburg was the last passenger airship of the world's first airline - in its day it was the fastest way to cross the Atlantic.

On the day of the airship’s 63rd voyage it was destroyed by a fire as it attempted to dock in difficult conditions at the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey.


How did the Hindenburg airship fire start?

An electrostatic charge caused by a difference in electric potential between the airship and the surrounding air is believed to have ignited the gases and released vast amounts of flammable gas. Mixed with the air atmosphere this formed a highly explosive combination.

The Hindenburg was around 60 metres above the airfield - the explosion caused other grounded airships to ignite.


What can the industry learn from the Hindenburg disaster?

The public were generally forgiving of the number of airship accidents until this incident. For example, the USS Akron had previously claimed the lives of 73 people, while 48 people lost their lives in the British R-101 crash.

The Hindenburg altered public opinion as it was filmed - allowing millions of people around the world to witness the dramatic inferno. The loss of confidence would bring about the end of the airship era of transportation.

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