May 6, 2007, is the 70th anniversary of the Hindenberg tragedy. Docking at its station in New Jersey, after crossing the Atlantic, a spark ignited the aluminum-based paint on the airship, and the entire craft exploded into flame.
35 people died on the airship, and one on the ground — did you know a few survived? The Associated Press interviewed a man who was 8-years old that day, and a passenger on the airship.
Werner Doehner, an 8-year-old passenger aboard the Hindenburg, saw chairs fall across the dining room door his father had walked through moments before the disaster. He would never see his father alive again.
“Just instantly, the whole place was on fire,” said Doehner, of Parachute, Colo., who is the last surviving passenger. “My mother threw me out the window. She threw my brother out. Then she threw me, but I hit something and bounced back. She caught me and threw me the second time out. My sister was just too heavy for her. My mother jumped out and fractured her pelvis. Regardless of that, she managed to walk.”
The disaster erroneously condemned hydrogen in the public’s mind. Despite widespread use of hydrogen gas for cooking and some transportation during World War II (including in the U.S.), use of hydrogen as a fuel beyond that has always faced the hurdle of the “Hindenberg Syndrome,” the fear that the gas would explode. Fact is that gasoline is much more volatile, more explosive, and generally more dangerous, than hydrogen.