If you ask someone to name an airship, chances are they’re referring to the Goodyear Blimp or the Hindenburg. To refer to the Hindenburg would be a mistake, because while rigid airships and airships are both airships, they are actually separate things. Yet the 1937 disaster that saw the New Jersey-bound craft ignite, crash and kill 35 people, had a huge impact on people’s willingness to travel in what is essentially a balloon powered by a fan, depending on Live Science.
As devastating as the images of the Hindenburg disaster appear, the majority of those on board survived, 62 out of 97 in total, in fact survived the accident. Most of the survivors jumped to safety as the Hindenburg sank. The zeppelin, which was filled with highly flammable hydrogen unlike the inert helium that similar craft are filled with today, took just 34 seconds to burn. The exact cause of the inflammation is unknown, although a popular theory among experts blames electrostatic discharge.
The fate of the Hindenburg, along with its association with Nazi Germany, ended the era of airships. Don Adams, who works for the historical society responsible for maintaining the Hindenburg crash site, explains: “No one wanted to fly hydrogen ships anymore; they were afraid of it. Not only that, as Hitler grew in power, people really didn’t want to. I don’t want to fly on a Nazi airship” (via Live Science).