Arriving at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, during her first transatlantic crossing from Germany to America, the Hindenburg (LZ 129) is escorted by a Coast Guard RD Spica. The picture was published in Coast Guard Magazine, Vol. 9 (July, 1936), at page 4. Public Domain. Click on the image for a full-page view.


In 1936, during her first full year of service, the Hindenburg became the first trans-Atlantic “airline.” At least three more years would pass before commercial airplanes began to transport people across the ocean. Ahead of everything else, the Hindenburg made ten round trips to the United States in 1936. She also flew to South America.

Although passage was expensive, it was relatively fast. (Follow the link to view an actual ticket from the 1936 season.) Only the wealthiest citizens could afford the $720 round trip fare for a seat aboard this marvel of technology. And only a few air stations were equipped to recover and launch the great Zeppelin.

In North America, Lakehurst Air Naval Station in New Jersey was a natural fit. Crews based at Lakehurst were experts at launching and recovering aircraft. They still are. But a huge hangar was required and elaborate, special procedures had to be developed for the Hindenburg which was pulled to the ground by mooring lines. The ground crew alone exceeded 200 men.

Because the Hindenburg used hydrogen, not helium like U.S. airships, hydrogen had to be transported to the Air Station. A railroad line, located near Hangar One where the Zeppelin was berthed during U.S. visits, served that purpose.

The Lakehurst crew knew all the procedures on the evening of May 6, 1937. Although this was the first Hindenburg landing of the season, the ground crew (92 Navy personnel and 139 civilians) had been through it before.

The mooring mast was in place. So were lots of spectators and the media. Many had been there for hours, waiting for the storms to pass.

Herb Morrison, who was  recording on site for the Chicago radio station WLS was describing the scene as the great air ship descended. Suddenly, Morrison’s voice changed. Shocked, he described what he saw. The Hindenburg - now a huge ball of fire - was falling out of the sky!

More than 70 years later, Morrison’s broadcast (aired for the first time the following day) is still the most recognized description of the Hindenburg disaster. (This link takes you to the longer version of Herb Morrison's broadcast. The most famous part of the broadcast starts at around 3:30 into the tape.)

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Mar 30, 2019

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"HINDENBURG: FIRST TRANS-ATLANTIC FLIGHTS" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 01, 2007. May 26, 2020.
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