the humanity,” cried a radio announcer on May 6, 1937, as the German
airship, the Hindenburg, exploded in flames while landing outside New
York City. For many people this
is all they know of airships — that category of “lighter than air” craft which
includes dirigibles and blimps.
For a few years in the late 1930s airships flew passengers
around the world in luxury, and some aviation experts speculated they would be
the future of worldwide passenger aviation. With the Hindenburg disaster
covered widely by radio and newsreels, and the improvement of long-range
airplanes, the airship’s days were numbered.
was one of the main terminals from which the great airships flew, and the small
town of Zeppelinheim
was built nearby to house the airship workers.
just across the Autobahn from FrankfurtAirport,
is today a treasure trove of artifacts on the era of the great airships.
The museum was completed in 1988 and its curved roof mirrors
the shape and diameter as the LZ-10 airship. The small 300-square-meter museum
is packed with items from 40 years of zeppelin airships. The museum displays
uniforms, cabin decorations and dining room place settings, log books and guest
books, engines, flight instruments and mechanical parts, and advertising from
the Zeppelin Company. Scale models of the various airships hang overhead. The
museum has a small cinema, gift shop, and groups are welcome.
was the starting point of the zeppelin routes to North and South
America. As the transatlantic airship service
expanded, housing for the flying and ground personnel had to be provided near
the airport. Construction of a town named Zeppelinheim
started in 1935, and the first buildings were ready in 1937. On Jan. 1, 1938,
the status of an independent community was given to Zeppelinheim.
After 39 years, in 1977, Zeppelinheim became part of Neu-Isenburg and lost its independence. Today, the town is
a pleasant place for a walk along wooded paths. One path leads to a walkway
across the Autobahn to a place where you can watch the jetliners land and take
off at FrankfurtInternationalAirport.
The zeppelin Hindenburg was destroyed while landing at
Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New
JerseyMay 6, 1937.
Of 61 crew and 36 passengers, 22 crew and 13 passengers died in the explosion
along with a ground crewman, Navy Linesman Allen Hagaman.
Longer than three
Boeing 747s, the Hindenburg and her sister-ship, Graf Zeppelin II, were the two
largest aircraft ever built — 804 feet long and 135 feet in diameter.
They had cabins for 50 passengers (upgraded to 72 in 1937) and a crew of 61.
The Hindenburg was designed to be filled with helium, but a U.S.
embargo forced the Germans to use highly flammable hydrogen. The popular
perception is that the Hindenburg was destroyed on its maiden voyage. Unlike
the Titanic, the zeppelin had flown for over a year before the disaster. In 1936
the Hindenburg flew 191,583 miles carrying 2,798 passengers and 160 tons of
freight and mail. In that year the ship made 17 trans-Atlantic flights with 10
to the United States
and seven to Brazil.
It also made a record-breaking Atlantic double-crossing in five days, 19 hours
and 51 minutes.
At the airport
If you look carefully the next time you fly from FrankfurtAirport,
look at the east end of the runways and you can see the large circles of
pavement where the wheel of the zeppelin rolled while moored. Airships were
moored to a tower at the nose and allowed to rotate with the wind, their single
wheel riding on a sidewalk-width concrete circle.
Naval Air Station
The Hindenburg disaster occurred at the Lakehurst Naval Air
Station airship field in New Jersey
south of New York City.
You can find more information at the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society website
at www.nlhs.com. More information on the Hindenburg disaster, with links
to video and audio clips, is online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_disaster.
The museum will host a special exhibit of photos and
information about two civil zeppelins, the Bodensee und Nordstern, built after World War I which were
given to France
as part of Germany’s
war reparations. The exhibit will continue until October.
Exit the A5 at exit 23 (first exit south of the A3 and A5
intersection) towards Zeppelinheim. This is the same
exit, but traveling in the opposite direction as going to the former Rhein-Main Air Force Base. Turn left at the first traffic
lights into the town of Zeppelinheim.
Follow the main road. The museum is signposted and on the left. If you use B44,
take the exit Zeppelinheim and continue on the main
road into the town. The museum is signposted. By public transport
airport (terminal 1) Take bus OF-51 heading toward Gravenbruch-Ost. Get off at the bus stop Zeppelinheim – Ludwig-Dürr-Straße.
It is a two minute walk to the museum.
Take the S-Bahn S7 Frankfurt to Goddelau-Erfelden
and get off at the “ZeppelinheimBhf.”
There you will find a map of the town to find your way to the museum.
(069) 694 390
For information about the museum or website email Margot.Chelius@zeppelin-museum
-zeppelinheim.de or www.zeppelin-museum-zeppelinheim.de.
Open Friday , Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from
The museum is closed Dec. 23 to Jan. 4.
Entry is free. For
guided group tours up to 20 people, €25
plus €1 for each additional person. Guided tours
take place Tuesday to Sunday.
Groups must register
by phone, fax or email with the KulturofficeNeu-Isenburg. Call civ
(06102) 747 434/747 416.
(the home of Count von Zeppelin and where the airships were built) offers a
repository of objects on airship flight and technology, ranging from the
beginnings to the new Zeppelin NT. The museum is housed in the former Harbor
Railway Station located on the promenade of LakeConstance.