Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hindenburg Ghosts

“As the airship came in for a landing it suddenly exploded into flames. The rear was completely engulfed in a bright orange fireball. An eyewitness standing a half-mile away on the ground said an intense blast of heat blew over. Then, a blow torch-flame shot out of the airship’s nose.”


In 1936 the future looked bright for rigid airships. These zeppelin ships were lighter than air and huge. They could travel at a speed of 84 miles an hour--which was the fastest travel mode at that time. Passengers traveled in luxury in the zeppelin's bellies.

Hindenburg flying over
Manhattan in April of 1936.
The Hindenburg was Nazi Germany’s pride and joy. It could carry up to 75 passengers. Hitler had wanted it named after him--but the German builders had "Hindenburg" put on its side quickly to prevent this.

In 1936 it was used for one glorious season ferrying over 1000 wealthy passengers back and forth across the Atlantic from Frankfurt, Germany to America. This trip took about 2 and a half days which was much faster than boat travel.

During its first trans-Atlantic crossing in May of 1937 it burst into flames over Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The ship was destroyed in less than 1 minute.

Thirty-five people of the 97 onboard were killed, including 13 passengers, 22 crewmen. One ground crew member died of burns he suffered when the hull of the ship fell on him--which took the tally to 36.

This disaster became the main focus of the international media and marked the end of the use of rigid airships in commercial transportation.

The Hindenburg at the time of the disaster was was using hydrogen gas to lift it which is highly flammable. 

The fire was officially attributed to a hydrogen leak that was set off by an atmospheric discharge. Despite this at the time it was speculated that the disaster was actually an act of sabotage that resulted from anti-Nazi sentiment--this theory was ruled out.

Today a new theory has been put forth as to the real cause of the accident. Here is a link to the video shown on PBS that discusses it. 

Haunted Naval Station

Hindenburg Memorial
At Lakehurst Naval Air Station a chain and a bronze plaque were placed in 1987 in the area where the Hindenburg came down to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this disaster.

In 1937, many of the 61 passengers and crew that survived were injured and burned so they were transported to the base hospital.

The 36 deceased where placed in a nearby hanger that would have housed the Hindenburg if it had successfully landed.

It was in this hanger--a makeshift temporary morgue--where survivors had the gruesome task of identifying the charred remains of the dead. It was said that the smell of burned flesh hung in the air for days.

Over 75 years later Lakehurst is still an active base and workers still report smelling burnt flesh in this hanger.

Over the years many who have worked at Lakehurst feel those who were killed when the Hindenburg burst into flames still roam the base.

The old hospital were the wounded were taken is a clinic today. Workers in this area have seen and heard things they cannot explain.

Witnesses have reported seeing lights flashing on and off with no logical reason.

They mention hearing strange footsteps; doors rattling and loud unexplained crashes.

One staff member who was working alone in the building that houses the clinic heard one of these loud crashes.

When he went to check out the area in the clinic where the sound came from he found a large pamphlet rack had fallen over and the pamphlets were scattered across the floor.

Irritated, he announced out loud that he didn’t make the mess so he wasn’t going to clean it up. He told the ghost that he should “do it” instead. Then he went home.

The next morning, the rack and pamphlets were back where they belonged.

This staff member and others that work in the clinic still do not know how this rack got back in its proper place.

The Hindenburg disaster was made more compelling because a radio reporter for WLS by the name of Herb Morrison was describing the arrival of the zeppelin when it caught on fire. His live on-air vivid description of this disaster is heart-rending.

Here is video of the disaster with the audio of his description.

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