On this day in history, 1936, the LZ 129 Hindenburg made its maiden test flight from the Zeppelin dockyards at Friedrichshafen, Germany. Eighty-seven passengers and crew members were aboard the airship.
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The Hindenburg was designed and constructed by the Zeppelin Company and was operated by the German Zeppelin Airline Company. Tragically, a fire destroyed the airship on May 6, 1937 – only 14 months after its initial flight. The disaster occurred at the end of its first North American transatlantic journey. The Hindenburg was attempting to land at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester Township, New Jersey. Thirty-six people perished.
The frame of the airship was made up of a duralumin structure with 15 bulkheads (that were braced by longitudinal girders) along its length. Sixteen cotton gas bags were fitted between each bulkhead. The outer material was made of cotton doped with various reflective materials.
The Germans decided to use hydrogen as the lifting gas, despite the fact that it was extremely flammable. Designers of the Hindenburg originally wanted to use helium; however, the gas was rare and very expensive at the time.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense