The Hindenburg, the largest airship ever built, bursts into flames as it attempts to moor in Lakehurst, New Jersey, following its transatlantic flight from Germany.

Photograph courtesy Navy Lakehurst Historical Society
  • On May 6, 1937, German airship Hindenburg burst into flames, killing 35. The Hindenburg left Frankfurt, Germany, on May 3 for a journey to Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. As the airship attempted to moor, it suddenly caught fire. The hydrogen-filled hull of the ship burned within seconds. Unlike previous airship fires, this was captured entirely on film.
    The Hindenburg was the largest airship ever built. It carried 36 passengers and 61 crewmembers. The airship, sometimes called a Zeppelin after is manufacturer, was more than 245 meters (800 feet) from stern to bow. It had a light metal framework that protected the gas-filled interior. Lighter-than-air hydrogen was used to elevate the vehicle. Unfortunately, hydrogen is very flammable. Experts do not agree how the Hindenburg caught fire.
    The entire airship industry collapsed after the Hindenburg accident. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    airship Noun

    aircraft filled with lighter-than-air material, usually hydrogen or helium. Also called a dirigible or blimp.

    elevate Verb

    to raise higher than the surrounding area.

    flammable Adjective

    easily set on fire.

    gas Noun

    state of matter with no fixed shape that will fill any container uniformly. Gas molecules are in constant, random motion.

    hull Noun

    main body of a ship.

    hydrogen Noun

    chemical element with the symbol H, whose most common isotope consists of a single electron and a single proton.

    industry Noun

    activity that produces goods and services.

    journey Noun

    voyage or trip.