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Mystery of Hindenburg air catastrophe solved

new jersey hydrogen-filled airships trans-atlantic electrostatic spark

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#16 OP Hum


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Posted 19 March 2013 - 17:04

why is this in its a conspiracy?

Conspiracy theories took hold that the airship had been brought down by a bomb ...

Reading is fundamental.

#17 majortom1981


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Posted 19 March 2013 - 17:11

The dream was a fleet of hydrogen-filled airships criss-crossing the globe, silvered hulls shining in the sunlight. And for a while the fantasy became reality, For the Hindenburg was the Concorde of its day – able to cross the Atlantic in about three days, twice as fast as going by sea.

With nearly 100 on board, the 245m airship was preparing to land at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on 6 May 1937, when the age of airship travel ended. In front of horrified onlookers, the Hindenburg exploded and plunged to the ground in flames. Thirty-five of those on board died.

Now, 76 years later, a team of experts claims to have solved one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century: the real cause of the Hindenburg air disaster. And they name static electricity as the culprit.

Led by a British aeronautical engineer, Jem Stansfield, and based at the South West Research Institute in the US, the team blew up or set fire to scale models more than 24m long, in an attempt to rule out theories ranging from a bomb planted by a terrorist to explosive properties in the paint used to coat the Hindenburg.

Investigations after the disaster concluded that a spark had ignited leaking hydrogen gas, but could not agree on what caused the spark, or the leaking gas. Conspiracy theories took hold that the airship had been brought down by a bomb, or had been shot down from the ground. Through recreating different scenarios with mini-replicas, and studying archive footage of the disaster, along with eyewitness accounts, experts believe they have discovered what really happened.

Mark Heald was eight when he watched the Hindenburg coming in to land. He was watching from a distance and able to see what those closer to the airship couldn't – where the fire started. "Years later, my father realised that he should have volunteered testimony in some of the initial investigations, because we were probably in a rather unusual location. As I recall, we were seeing it from pretty much a side view. We saw a little bit of blue fire just forward of the vertical rudder, the upper rudder. It hung right to the top ridge."

In a documentary being broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday, experts reveal the sequence of events that triggered the explosion. The airship had become charged with static as a result of an electrical storm. A broken wire or sticking gas valve leaked hydrogen into the ventilation shafts, and when ground crew members ran to take the landing ropes they effectively "earthed" the airship. The fire appeared on the tail of the airship, igniting the leaking hydrogen.

"I think the most likely mechanism for providing the spark is electrostatic," said Mr Stansfield. "That starts at the top, then the flames from our experiments would've probably tracked down to the centre. With an explosive mixture of gas, that gave the whoomph when it got to the bottom."

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The airship historian Dan Grossman agrees. "I think that's exactly what happened. I think you had massive distribution of hydrogen throughout the aft half of the ship; you had an ignition source pull down into the ship, and that whole back portion of the ship went up almost at once."


There was a special either on the discovery channel or national geographic that stated this. I am sure this is just a reshowing of this special.

#18 NoPanShabuShabu



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Posted 29 March 2013 - 16:16

Really, despite the fact that the Hindenburg disaster was a big draw for conspiracy theory, this article is not presenting a conspiracy theory, so it shouldn't be here really.

Anyway, I just wanted to add, that where the article stated: "The dream was a fleet of hydrogen-filled airships criss-crossing the globe, silvered hulls shining in the sunlight" isn't really accurate. Everybody knows that they wanted to use helium and that hydrogen was only used because they couldn't get it.

#19 compl3x


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Posted 29 March 2013 - 23:48

Reading is fundamental.

The fact this article is explaining why it isn't a conspiracy means it shouldn't be in here. Perhaps it should be in the science sub-forum instead?

#20 +Majesticmerc


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Posted 30 March 2013 - 00:04

I am also sure I heard this a few years back.

Yeah AFAIK this was solved quite some years ago. Maybe they've just replicated the conditions scientifically for a full confirmation or something?

I know hindsight is always 20/20, but even when learning about airships, filling them with Hydrogen always seemed like an immensely stupid idea.

#21 Open Minded

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 00:05

No -- there is no a in the band's name.

Actually, there was at first. They changed it so it wouldn't be pronounced "Leed" Zeppelin. At least that's what a Reddit TIL told me.

#22 Rigby


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Posted 30 March 2013 - 00:10

Posted Image

#23 dfuk



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Posted 30 March 2013 - 00:37

They should've use Helium instead

The original plans for the Graf Zeppelin was helium filled but the US, the world main manufacture of helium refused to license the helium manufacturing technology to a foreign company so she was modified for hydrogen, using the extra lift to increase the luxury in the passenger compartments.

#24 Blueclub



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Posted 30 March 2013 - 00:56

The same conclusion was featured a few years back on Seconds from disaster as well, common knowledge I thought?

A few years ago a saw it on NatGeo too, they actually burned a piece of the surviving balloon (to match the flame) to prove the theory.