NOVA: Hindenburg - The New Evidence
(DVD / PG / 2021 / PBS)
Overview: On May 6th, 1937, the Hindenburg, the world’s largest airship, ignited in a giant fireball as it prepared to land at Lakehurst, New Jersey — a disaster immortalized by searing newsreel footage and Herbert Morrison’s unforgettable Oh, the humanity! commentary.
The chain of events that ignited Hindenburg’s hydrogen remains one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history.
DVD Verdict: Hindenburg - The New Evidence (running at just under the hour) is a new documentary reassessing what really happened at the infamous 1937 Hindenburg airship disaster (who can ever forget the infamous news footage, or indeed the cover of Led Zeppelin’s debut album for that matter!)
For clarity, the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at Naval Air Station Lakehurst.
The accident caused 35 fatalities (13 passengers and 22 crewmen) from the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), and an additional fatality on the ground.
As the documentary opens, we are introduced to two experts who bring a quick historical perspective on the history of the gigantic German airships (it was three times as large as a 747), the many years of operating without a single incident (including dozens of cross-Atlantic trips in 1936 and early 1937), and then the events of May 6th, 1937.
As it turns out, new 8mm footage was recently unearthed providing new clues as to what exactly may have caused the explosion of the Hindenburg (and, amazingly, we are only just about ten minutes into the documentary!)
Produced and directed by veteran documentarian Kirk Wolfinger, here he gives the experts a platform to reassess what went wrong with the Hindenburg on that fateful day in May of 1937.
The newly discovered 8mm footage (filmed by an amateur as opposed to the many official news crews that were at the scene) is royally fascinating, as well it should be, of course.
But, and as it turns out, the real hero in all this is a certain Professor Giapis at CalTech, who reconstructs the various elements of what went wrong, and then puts it all together neatly for us to view.
Indeed, that comes to fruition best in the final half an hour or so and as much as I can fully admit that some of the super scientific aspects of this reassessment went over my head, it all sounded quite convincing to me (and I was watching with some intrepidly great fascination, trust me). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
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