luni, 25 februarie 2013

Success 2013: Airship Hindenburg Collection. Werner Doehner, Hindenburg Disaster Survivor. Last passenger still alive that witnessed the disaster

Werner Doehner, was just 8 when the airship suddenly began to tilt. “Instantly, the whole place was on fire,” Doehner told the Associated Press. “My mother threw me out the window. She threw my brother out. Then she threw me, but I hit something and bounced back. She caught me and threw me the second time out.” Doehner, his brother and his mother all survived — but his father and younger sister were not so lucky. To this day, Doehner is still so pained by the memories he rarely grants interviews.
Doehner was eight years old and was travelling with his parents, Hermann and Matilde, and his siblings, 10-year-old Walter and 16-year-old Irene. The Doehner boys were the youngest of the 36 passengers on board during that flight.
Today, Doehner lives a quiet life as a retiree in Colorado. He declined to comment on this story beyond saying, “I lead a private life. That happened in the past and I’d prefer it stay there.” (

The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers, 61 crew), there were 35 fatalities; there was also one death among the ground crew.

The disaster was the subject of spectacular newsreel coverage, photographs, and Herbert Morrison's recorded radio eyewitness report from the landing field, which was broadcast the next day. A variety of hypotheses have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire. The incident shattered public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airship and marked the end of the airship era.After opening its 1937 season by completing a single round trip passage to Rio De Janeiro in late March, the Hindenburg departed from Frankfurt on the evening of May 3 on the first of 10 round trips between Europe and the United States that were scheduled for its second year of commercial service. The United States' American Airlines, which had contracted with the operators of the Hindenburg, was prepared to shuttle fliers from Lakehurst to Newark for connections to airplane flights.
Except for strong headwinds which slowed its passage, the Hindenburg's crossing was otherwise unremarkable until the airship's attempted early evening landing at Lakehurst three days later on May 6. Although carrying only half its full capacity of passengers (36 of 70) and 61 crew members (including 21 training crew members), the Hindenburg's return flight was fully booked with many of those passengers planning to attend the festivities for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in London the following week.

The airship was hours behind schedule when it passed over Boston on the morning of May 6, and its landing at Lakehurst was expected to be further delayed because of afternoon thunderstorms. Advised of the poor weather conditions at Lakehurst, Captain Max Pruss charted a course over Manhattan, causing a public spectacle as people rushed out into the street to catch sight of the airship. After passing over the field at 4 p.m., Captain Pruss took passengers on a tour over the seasides of New Jersey while waiting for the weather to clear. After finally being notified at 6:22 p.m. that the storms had passed, the airship headed back to Lakehurst to make its landing almost half a day late. However, as this would leave much less time than anticipated to service and prepare the airship for its scheduled departure back to Europe, the public was informed that they would not be permitted at the mooring location or be able to visit aboard the Hindenburg during its stay in port.

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