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Exhibition Not an Ostrich: & Other Images from America's Library

Murray Becker. Hindenburg disaster, 1937. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (39.00.00) © Murray Becker/Associated Press

MURRAY BECKER. Hindenburg Disaster. 1937

As reported in the caption of Becker’s photo for the Associated Press at the time of the accident: “The German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth, tail first, in flaming ruins after exploding on May 6, 1937, at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey.” The 1920s and 1930s were the golden age of dirigibles, which crossed the Atlantic Ocean in as little as two days—faster than a ship. The Hindenburg was the largest airship ever built at 804 feet in length. It flew up to 85 miles per hour while held aloft by highly flammable hydrogen. The disaster, which killed 36 people after a 60-hour transatlantic flight, ended regular passenger service by the lighter-than-air airships.