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Hindenburg Mystery Solved: Static Electricity Caused Crash [Video]


The Hindenburg crash of 1937 is one of the most famous disasters in aviation history. But despite its fame, the cause of the crash has never been determined. A new study from the South West Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, claims to have solved the Hindenburg mystery.

The researchers believe that the legendary zeppelin crashed due to static electricity.

According to The Independent, the hydrogen-filled ship was designed for around the world air travel. The Hindenburg was capable of crossing the Atlantic in about three days, nearly twice as fast as a ship, but before zeppelin travel really took off there was a terrible accident that killed thirty five people.

On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg suddenly burst into flames and crashed to the ground as it was trying to land in New Jersey.

The accident has been examined by aviation experts around the world and several conspiracy theories have been passed about but Jem Stansfield and the team at the South West Research Institute believe that they have finally solved the mystery.

Stansfield and the research team conducted several tests with Hindenberg models built to scale. The team sought to disprove theories about the Hindenberg disaster and uncover the true cause. The team examined the idea that a bomb was set off on the airship and they also looked to see if the zeppelin may have crashed due to the chemical properties in the paint.

The research into the Hindenberg disaster will be revealed in a new documentary that will air this week on British TV.

After the crash, aviation experts agreed that the hydrogen inside of the blimp ignited and caused the airship to crash. They could not agree, however, on what caused the spark.

Stansfield told Yahoo News:

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

Historian Dan Grossman told the Daily Mail:

“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.”

Here’s a video about the Hindenburg disaster.

The documentary will air later this week on Channel 4 in Britain. Do you think the Hindenburg mystery has been solved? Did static electricity crash the legendary zeppelin?

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36 Responses to “Hindenburg Mystery Solved: Static Electricity Caused Crash [Video]”

  1. Anonymous

    Why don't they try to figure out jetliners starting on fire now instead of dirigibles from 70 years ago?

  2. David Rowell Workman-Writer

    Already heard the static theory on the history channel LAST year.

  3. Ed Kosary

    The Hindenburg was not a blimp, but a German Zeppelin. If the "researchers" are going to explore this accident please use the correct term for it, otherwise it makes your "work" look stupid.

  4. Howard Lovecraft

    That's very old news indeed.Static electricity was the conclusion by the Germans lead by Hugo Eckener 70 years ago.And D-LZ-129 Hindenburg was a ZEPPELIN! not a blimp.

  5. Omar J. Cunningham

    First off, it was a Zeppelin and not a 'blimp'. And the static theory is not new. I first heard of it when I was a kid back in the late 70's and they pretty much concluded that that was the cause. Come on Yahoo! You're posting this like it's some 'groundbreaking' news. =(

  6. Patrick Sullivan

    The static theory has been around for many years. It is certainly a plausible one, but I can't imagine what 'new' evidence there is to prove it and pronounce that the mystery is solved. I will attempt to watch the new documentary with an open mind, but I remain skeptical that there is any new evidence, at all.

  7. Gordon Patton

    "Static electricity?" DUH! That theory is nothing new, plus the skin was covered with a flammable liquid to harden it. Spark of electricity + flammable liquid = BOOM! And it is not a "blimp" but a Zeppelin. That right there degraded the credibility of the researchers.

  8. Kirk Joseph Dongu

    Did any other airships blow up the same way? I don't remember reading about any others done in like that. The theory that someone ate too much sourkraut and farted in the Hindenburg bathroom still looms large.

  9. Tim Rieser

    Fifty years ago when I was a kid the static electricity theory was on the top of the list of probable causes. Solved? No, not really. Once again theorized? Yup.

  10. Anonymous

    OK, the researchers did NOT call it a blimp. The journalists covering the story did. So that has nothing to do with the validity of the research. It's called reading comprehension. Use it. Don't confuse the researchers' words with the journalist's. The researchers don't say "New Evidence", they merely say they experimented with a bunch of different theories with scale models. And why not? It's interesting all the same. They didn't say the static theory is NEW, just that based on their research it's the most plausible. Relax. They do the same thing with the Titanic. It's just interesting and better than the Kardashians. Enjoy life for a moment.

  11. Anonymous

    The journalist – either Dan Evon or the Independent called it a blimp – not the researchers.

  12. Milly Kimmick

    The Static Electricity Theory is NOT new. Stop wasting research money on this. What will it accomplish? I could understand if people were going to use it as a means of travel, but that will never happen. The time for that passed decades ago. So why do we need to know? Use the money for something relevant to the present or future of mankind. Uh, can I get an Amen?

  13. Mike Garrison

    They've been talking about static electricity for a long time now. That's what caused the original ignition and the coating on the outer skin is what caused it to spread so fast. This is nothing new. It's like the Researchers and the journalists have a keen sense for the obvious. What a great big crock of crap this story turned out to be.

  14. Michael Brennan

    The static theory is old news. German insurance investigators in the 30s added that the waterproofing mixture was also highly flammable causing the static electricity to be more dangerous.

  15. Anonymous

    Mythbusters did this two years ago. Nothing new here.

  16. Elliott Bettman

    All Moot Points. Helium, while less buoyant Never burns or explodes. It is the most inert element. The Germans didn't have a ready supply of it. But there WERE survivors of the Hindenberg, unlike Many airplane disasters.

  17. Anonymous

    This is old news, it was on history channel months ago.

  18. Ricky Lorenz

    a 5 yr old could have solved that with a good science kit from toys r us.

  19. TCB Painting

    Is there another cause that these "Experts" could spend their time and federally funded grants on? I for one did not agree for them to use my tax dollars for this. Anyone else?

  20. Fred Leeman

    When the researcher says "I think the most likely mechanism for providing the……'s not a solution, it's a theory….how is this news?

  21. William Stone

    I learned the cause was static electricity about 1947. This was the accepted explanation. About fourth grade, we were studying static electricity and the Hindenburg tragedy was still a topic of discussion.

  22. Anonymous

    Must have been a REALLY slow news day! The two most prevalent guesses (and that's all these 'researchers' are presenting, here, a guess!) since the week that the tragedy took place, is that it was caused by either lightning or static electricity! How in the world could this drivel rate a 'news story' anywhere on the planet?

  23. Johnny Swancey Sr.

    It has taken them this long to figure it out, Hell that was one of the theories not long after the Zeppelin crashed and burned. Wonder what fool wasted their money for these idiots to finally agree on the same theory that they made in 1937.

  24. Nick Giunta

    I heard one of the Nazi's aboard had stuck his wet johnson in a light socket on the Hindenburg, causing the spark that led to the disaster.

  25. Eric Ostendorff

    I'd think the Brits might prefer to examine their homegrown airship disaster. Their R-101 tragically crashed & burned on its maiden flight in 1930, killing more people than the Hindenburg did. In comparison, the Hindenburg operated flawlessly throughout the 1936 season.

  26. Steven Smith

    yes it is a zeppelin-count ferdinand zeppelin-
    still a blimp or rather a lighter than airship-
    just like a stradavarius-great but still just a violin

  27. Chana Jackson

    Do we need to redo our presentation for Mme. Mann?

  28. John Wiggins

    I learned something this morning for the first time, that "South West" is actually two words. Unbelievably bad writing on an article about 30 years behind the others saying the same thing.

  29. Keith Antell

    My primary question is who's financing this research? If it's being privately funded then ok but if it's coming from our tax dollars then someone should be accountable for such wasted research funds that could have been spent on something more important like ah….poverity, care of our vet's, shelters for the homeless ect….

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