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  • John Adams

The Hindenburg Disaster


The Hindenburg (LZ-129), 06 MAY 1937 at 1822 EST

Target designed by David Morehouse

Viewer: John Adams

Protocol: Blind solo


LZ 129 was the name of the airship/blimp that went down in flames tragically on May 6, 1937 at 6:22 p.m. The exact cause was not known but had been speculated about many times, the ideas ranging from conspiracy to structural issues, until the idea put forth recently and tested that an electrical spark (or several) caused the hydrogen gas to explode in the blimp, as it turned and descended and then 4 minutes, and after it dropped its mooring ropes just as rain began to fall (a keyword: damp) offering a better conduit for the static electricity to ignite the gas.

There is a documentary from earlier this year now available on PBS and at dailymotion.

According to British scientist Jem Stansfield:

The airship had become charged with static as a result of an electrical storm. A broken wire or sticking gas valve leaked hydrogen into the ventilation shafts, and when ground crew members ran to take the landing ropes they effectively “earthed” the airship. The fire appeared on the tail of the airship, igniting the leaking hydrogen.
I think the most likely mechanism for providing the spark is electrostatic. That starts at the top, then the flames from our experiments would’ve probably tracked down to the center. With an explosive mixture of gas, that gave the whoomph when it got to the bottom.

Image of 'charged' energy and 'disabling action'

Below is the hangar for the Hindenburg located in Lakehurst, NJ and what may be an associated sketch (of either the hangar or inside of the blimp). The 'small' reference could have been windows or vent panels (but just a guess).

Digital rendering of dark and light blue watercolor impression

Related structural parts which seem to be a shaft and fins. The coated on 'dope' on the exterior of the blimp, which had a layer of iron in it, gave it extra flammability.

Debris from ground level, and above at (originally intended at 500' view then changed to 100') with the word "terminus" and also "historical".

The CRV session is available here:

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