May 6, 1937, a big fireball could be seen for miles as the infamous German-made Zeppelin; the Hindenburg blimp crashed as it made its attempt to land at the airfield in Lakehurst New Jersey.  The disaster killed 36 passengers and crew members.  Those who succumbed included thirteen of the 36 passengers, 21 crewmen, and one civilian member of the ground crew, who was just doing his job also dies as the result of the fiery crash.  Many survivors suffered significant injuries.

The airship, named after its creator Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was developed in the late 19th century by the Germans.  It was their attempt to compete with Frenchman Henri Giffard's construction of the first successful blimp in 1852.  The German version was much lighter, although, like Giffard’s design, they both got their lift by hydrogen gas-filled within its cigar-shaped, balloon-like structure.  A highly flammable gas that is vulnerable to an explosion. Unfortunately, it proved to be the case as the Hindenburg went down.  Suffice to say, air travel by blimp quickly became unpopular.

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Herb Morrison, a radio announcer for NBC, immortalized the Hindenburg disaster.  His description of the airship’s arrival is legendary. As the blimp makes its fatal descent, the tone of Morrison's voice and the words he uses to describe the events he offers his play-by-play is very emotional.  “Oh, the humanity” he declared in horror and sadness.

The Navy Lakehurst Historical Society is now offering tours of the Lakehurst facility.  The experience, which is located on the Navy Lakehurst Air Base includes witnessing the very site of where the Hindenburg disaster took place 96 years ago.   Tours of “Hanger One”, the very structure used to house the massive blip can also be toured.

The tours are free but they are asking for donations.  Call N.L.H.S at 732-575-6904 for more info.

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