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A leak, a spark, and the end of an era, Hindenburg mystery finally solved after 76 years

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Hindenburg mystery is finally solved. After years of speculation and investigation, researchers have conclusively uncovered the true culprit. Just what downed the iconic Zeppelin has been the subject of intense speculation for decades.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Hindenburg disaster has captivated imaginations for decades. Although the tragedy was not as profound as the loss of the RMS Titanic, or as widely felt as other contemporary disasters, the iconic image of the flaming, crashing zeppelin remains seared in our imagination.

Led Zeppelin used the image as an album cover and movies were made which speculated that the airship was sabotaged.

The loss of the Hindenburg marked the end of the era of luxury travel by airship, an era which may now, after 76 years may soon return.

British aeronautic engineer Jem Stansfield and a group of researchers working in Texas, have discovered conclusive evidence that it was static electricity, coupled with a hydrogen leak, that caused the doom of the airship including 35 of its passengers and one man on the ground.

The Hindenburg had flown to Lakehurst New Jersey across the Atlantic from Germany. As it approached the American coast, the craft flew through a band of thunderstorms, which are believed to have imparted static electrical charge to the craft. Airborne, the charge was harmless, but when mooring cables finally touched the ground, they grounded the craft and ignited a spark of electricity in the rear of the ship.

Combined with a hydrogen leak, the spark ignited the highly-flammable gas. Within seconds, the airship was engulfed in flames and crashed to the ground. The event was widely reported by newscasters on the radio and on newsreels, capturing public imagination.

An initial investigation suggested that static electricity had indeed caused the disaster, however a lack of scientific evidence made the conclusion suspect and fueled speculation including conspiracy theories.

Stansfield's team managed to confirm the initial conclusion by performing repeated tests on models. They were able to replicate the precise sequence of events which caused the airships demise.

Their results will be presented on a documentary that will be presented on British television channel 4 on Thursday.

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