Tuesday, May 6, 2014, marks the 77th anniversary of a disaster that ended an era in air travel - and it all happened right here in New Jersey.

Hindenburg Explosion
Hindenburg Explosion Over Lakehurst (Navy Lakehurst Historical Society)

On May 6, 1937, at around 7:25pm, the German airship Hindenburg burst into flames and crashed at what was then called Lakehurst Naval Air Station (now part of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst).  35 people aboard the dirigible died, along with one ground crew member.  But as Navy Lakehurst Historical Society President Carl Jablonski points out, the crash wasn't the deadliest airship disaster in the history of the U.S. - or the state.

"We just commemorated... the loss of the <U.S.S.> Akron, which took place off Barnegat Light on the 4th of April 1933 around midnight, when it got caught in a storm," Jablonski said.  "It went down into the ocean and 73 of 76 persons on board perished."

The Joint Base will host a ceremony honoring the lives lost on the Hindenburg and in all branches of military service Tuesday evening.  Scheduled speakers include Dr. Horst Schirmer, who survived the crash as a 6-year-old passenger and whose father designed the airship's aeronautical systems.  Dr. Schirmer is also credited with saving the life of famed physicist Dr. Wehrner Von Braun, often called the "Father of Rocket Science" and one of the men behind the founding of the United States' space program.  Also featured will be Robert Buchannan, who was a 17-year-old civilian ground crew member at the time of the crash.

Due to security concerns, the ceremony is not open to the public.

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