Hindenburg Disaster - Flight

Flight

After opening its 1937 season by completing a single round trip passage to Rio de Janeiro in late March, the Hindenburg departed from Frankfurt on the evening of May 3 on the first of 10 round trips between Europe and the United States that were scheduled for its second year of commercial service. The United States' American Airlines, which had contracted with the operators of the Hindenburg, was prepared to shuttle fliers from Lakehurst to Newark for connections to airplane flights.

Except for strong headwinds which slowed its passage, the Hindenburg's crossing was otherwise unremarkable until the airship's attempted early evening landing at Lakehurst three days later on May 6. Although carrying only half its full capacity of passengers (36 of 70) and 61 crew members (including 21 training crew members), the Hindenburg's return flight was fully booked with many of those passengers planning to attend the festivities for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in London the following week.

The airship was hours behind schedule when it passed over Boston on the morning of May 6, and its landing at Lakehurst was expected to be further delayed because of afternoon thunderstorms. Advised of the poor weather conditions at Lakehurst, Captain Max Pruss charted a course over Manhattan, causing a public spectacle as people rushed out into the street to catch sight of the airship. After passing over the field at 4 p.m., Captain Pruss took passengers on a tour over the seasides of New Jersey while waiting for the weather to clear. After finally being notified at 6:22 p.m. that the storms had passed, the airship headed back to Lakehurst to make its landing almost half a day late. However, as this would leave much less time than anticipated to service and prepare the airship for its scheduled departure back to Europe, the public was informed that they would not be permitted at the mooring location or be able to visit aboard the Hindenburg during its stay in port.

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