Monday, July 20, 2009

In fairness to the Hindenberg. It was a wonderful airship. There is much more to this vessel, than it's crash in 1937.

The Hindenburg airship has been the object of failure and disaster for over 70 years now. In fact I have seen it called the Titanic of the air. I have to politely disagree with that. First off the Hindenburg was not an unsuccessful aircraft. It was the airship that followed the most successful passenger airship in history, the Graf Zeppelin. The Hindenburg also had a wonderful season of transportation in the year 1936. In it many thousands of passengers were carried.

The Titanic was a failure from the start. Often it is thought that the Hindenburg was making it's first voyage. Not so, it had been a success for over a year already by the time of the accident. The careful nature on how the vessel was handled was the reason for the success of the flights. The Graf Zeppelin flew from 1929 till 1937 with out any mishap. There would not be a problem as long as certain procedures were always followed.
One of the most important was you did not land an airship like the Hindenburg or Graf Zeppelin during an electrical storm. That was exactly what was done in Lakehurst, New Jersey in May of 1937. The death of the Hindenburg has been bent all out of proportion. I will go into more detail at the end of this piece.The Hindenburg To this day the most luxurious way to fly.
The Hindenburg over New York City
One of the many rooms of the Hindenburg.
Chef's making gourmet meals on board an all electric kitchen
Passengers enjoying some time in the dinning room with an attentive staff
The smoking room, yes I said a smoking room. This room contained not only a room to smoke but also a bar. It was located on a lower deck and was in a well controlled sealed room. There was only one person who could light a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. It was the bartender who had strict control. Also the rooms air pressure was higher in the smoking room to keep out any gas. It was amazingly ingenious in it's design.
The bar and one of the wall decorations. The walls of the Hindenburg were decorated with lovely little paintings and motifs.
One of the two observation decks. This one by the passenger lounge.
The lounge was a popular spot for folks as they traveled. In fact there was a piano on board. Not a normal type of piano, it was made of light materials to allow it to fit in the weight specifications.
A passenger bedroom on the Hindenburg. Not fancy, small yes, but it allowed for this vessel to sleep 60 passengers comfortably. Also if you think of it how much time would you spend in your stateroom. In your stateroom were bunk beds, hot and cold running water, a little desk, and lastly a small closet to put suits and dresses. The bathroom facilities were on the deck below. Along with the shower room. As this was the second successful airship to follow the great Graf. It had many features that were not part of the Graf Zeppelin's design. One of these of course being showers.
The reading and writing room
The dining room set for dinner. This room could seat all 60 passengers
An order form to travel on the vessel. It was not cheap. But the Hindenburg was the Concord of its day. You could go from Europe to the USA in 2 and a half days. This was half the time it usually took on any other transportation system. Also in complete luxury.
Today as we all get crammed into the jets as we travel and have meals that lack much of anything. It seems this would have been a wonderful way to travel. But airliners today have to follow protocol. If there is a problem or bad weather, the flight is delayed or canceled. That is why air flight today is so safe. Had such issues been followed in the days of the Hindenburg, it is probable that the accident would not have occurred.

Now one last thing, more people survived the Hindenburg disaster than died. 35 people died in the Hindenburg accident. That was the first accident of a commercial German airship since the service had started. In 1937 alone well over 100 people were killed in plane accidents. from 1929 to 1937 the airship had one accident and lost 35 people. If you look at the airplane from 1929 to 1937 you will see a massive amount of deaths.

One of the main reasons that the airship was killed had nothing to do with the small amount of deaths compared to airplane travel. It had to do with the Political situation in Germany. There was to be a grander airship called the Graf Zeppelin II which would be the sister to the Hindenburg, and had even better facilities than the Hindenburg.
But due to the fact that Helium could not be had, and the airship demonized by politics and the press it was scraped and never made a commercial voyage.

The Hindenburg has been thought today to be a ship of disaster. However that was not the case. Look at the Jet called the Comet. That was a series of aircraft that were disasters. The Hindenburg carried hydrogen, only cause the USA would not sell the needed Helium. It is understandable due to the conditions of the time, but so sad that they great ships would be doomed by this choice.

Had the Hindenburg used Helium this disaster would never have happened. Or at least not as bad. As much of the problem with the fire on the ship was due to the dope or coating used on the fabric or skin of the airship.
Even still the disaster seems to have been caused by static electricity and of course the vessel was landed late in Lakehurst during an electrical storm which was something not allowed. I repeat, not allowed.

Had the commander followed protocol the disaster most probably would not have happened. But since keeping schedules seemed more important than safety it was landed. In that case the Hindenburg is like the Titanic. Cause the Titanic tragedy was due to following a schedule rather than following safety measures. Although they waited a while till the worst of the weather was over, it was still not a good idea.
I remember waiting at the airport for 5 hours because of heavy and serious thunder and lightning storms. They could not fuel the airplane or do much of anything till the storms had gone.

But in fairness to the Hindenburg and the many passengers she carried safely. They enjoyed a air flight unlike any we today can ever experience, or ever hope for.