This 5:25 minute Pathegrams newsreel released in 1937 includes video of the crash but also scenes from the May 9, 1936 inaugural flight of the Hindenburg over New York City. Although the newsreel was originally silent, I added much of Herb Morrison's audio account (version 2) to the video. As a result, the audio description does not always correspond to what the viewer is watching.
The Luftschiffbau Zeppelin company manufactured the airship Hindenburg and started construction in 1931 but the ship was not completed until 1936. The total length of the Hindenburg was 803.8 feet with a diameter of 135.1 feet and total gas capacity of 7,062,100 cubic feet. Initially, the airship was used for propaganda but it would ferry commercial passengers in 17 round-trip crossings of the Atlantic Ocean with 10 visits to the United States and seven to Brazil. The passenger capacity was between 50 to 72 people with a crew of 40 to 61.
The transatlantic crossing took almost six days to complete and cost $400 ($5,900 in 2008 dollars). The inaugural commercial passenger service from Frankfurt, Germany to New York City was in May 1936.
References for above: Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LZ_129_Hindenburg> and Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, Inc. <http://www.nlhs.com/hindenburg.htm>
The crash of the German airship Hindenburg in Lakehurst, New Jersey took the lives of 36 people. The cause of the fire has never been conclusively determined but, according to an article published on About.com, Addison Bain, a retired NASA engineer and hydrogen expert, asserts the Hindenburg disaster was caused by a spark that lit the dirigible's highly combustible skin afire. The blimp's skin was composed of highly flammable cellulose nitrate or cellulose acetate and coated with flecks of aluminum, a component of rocket fuel, to reflect sunlight. This helped to keep the hydrogen from heating and expanding. The hydrogen became the fuel for the fire, not the cause.
The U.S. Navy led the investigation into the crash since the crash occurred on Navy property, Lakehurst Naval Station, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) conducted a limited investigation. The F.B.I. released a 337-page document of the incident.
Herb Morrison was at the scene, recording a report for Chicago radio station WLS to use at later time, when the explosion and fire occurred. His report, recorded on large acetate discs, was not aired until the next day.
There are apparently two versions of this audio. In version 1, Mr. Morrison promotes American Airlines prior to exiting the hanger to watch the landing. When the explosion occurs, 2:02 minutes into the recording, he shouts "It burst into flames! Get this Scotty! Get this Scotty!" In Version 2 there is no mention of American Airlines rather a description of the Hindenburg's interior and exterior. At the explosion, 3:47 minutes into the recording, Mr. Morrision shouts "It burst into flames! It burst into flames! And it's falling! It's crashing! Watch it! Watch it (unintelligible)! Get out of the way; get out of the way! Get this Scotty! Get this Scotty!"
Herb Morrison is commonly quoted as saying "Oh the humanity!" Did he actually say that? If you listen carefully to the recording and to his statement immediately following "humanity", I don't think so. I believe he actually said "All the humanity" Morrison's entire statement is likely "All the humanity! All the passengers speeding around it!" This makes more sense than "Oh the humanity! All the passengers speeding around it!" Morrison does accent the first "all" more strongly than the second but I think it's "all", not "oh."
Judge for yourself:
This is a short 52-second video clip of the explosion and crash of the Hindenburg from a 1937 Pathe newsreel.
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Herb Morrison's Recordings
Version 1: Version 2:
Video stills taken from a news reel of the Hindenburg's maiden voyage over New York on May 9, 1936.
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