Scientists believe they have explained what caused the Hindenburg to explode back in May 1937.
The Concorde of its day, the Hindenburg was a technological marvel that was capable of transporting passengers across the Atlantic in half the time of a sea-based vessel. Disaster struck in 1937 however when the airship burst in to flames as it came in to land at Lakehurst, New Jersey. For years experts have pondered over what exactly caused it to explode, but now a team of engineers think they may have the answer.
Using a small scale model of the airship, the team led by aeronautical engineer Jem Stansfield was able to piece together the series of events that conspired to destroy the Hindenburg. It turns out that the hull became charged with static during an electrical storm while at the same time a broken wire or faulty valve leaked hydrogen in to the ventilation shafts. "I think the most likely mechanism for providing the spark is electrostatic," said 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."
"The dream was a fleet of hydrogen-filled airships criss-crossing the globe, silvered hulls shining in the sunlight."
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