Hindenburg disaster in popular culture
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The Hindenburg disaster has featured in a variety of popular culture films, TV programs and books.
The Hindenburg is a 1975 film about the disaster. Although much of the storyline is fictional, they were based on real bomb threats before the flight began, as well as proponents of the sabotage theory.
Hindenburg is a 2011 made-for-TV film starring Maximillian Simonischek, Lauren Lee Smith, Stacy Keach and Greta Scacchi. It was initially aired on RTL dubbed in German as a two-part series and later released as a DVD in English. It was later aired in US on Encore. Similar to the 1975 film, it focuses on the sabotage theory, though much of the storyline is completely fictional.
The 2015 film The Dust Storm includes a song called Hindenburg - a reference to the disaster.
In the Neal Stephenson novel Cryptonomicon the fictional character Lawrence Waterhouse is atop a fire tower in the Pine Barrens when he is "distracted by a false sunrise that lit up the clouds off to the northeast." Upon reaching the scene the author describes a disjointed scene of news reporters, an intense fire, people carrying charred bodies onto stretchers, and "a rocket-shaped pod stuck askew from the sand, supporting an umbrella of bent-back propellers." Lawrence Waterhouse returns to the campsite and remarks, "Also I dreamed last night that a zeppelin was burning."
In the 2001 novel Passage by Connie Willis, the Hindenburg disaster is referred to at length, as the favorite disaster of Maisie, a little girl with heart problems and a passion for famous disasters, in the hospital where Dr. Joanna Lander, the main character, is investigating near-death experiences.
Love and Hydrogen, by Jim Shepard, deals with two crew men aboard the Hindenburg, Meinert and Gnüss, and their hidden love. The story takes place a day before the explosion and the moment of.
In book three of The Pendragon Adventures by D. J. MacHale: The Never War, the Hindenburg disaster is the major event to change first earth. The Travelers eventually realize that the Hindenburg disaster must happen to prevent larger disasters such as an atomic bomb dropped on the U.S.
Blues musician Lead Belly wrote a song titled, "The Hindenburg Disaster" (1937). This song can be heard on the record Leadbelly: The Library of Congress Recordings, recorded by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax for Folkways Music Publishers.
The cover of Led Zeppelin's self-titled debut album shows a stylized photo of the Hindenburg disaster with the band's name in the upper left corner. The band's name is a reference to a popular catchphrase that refers to something, such as a joke, that falls flat; "That went over like a lead zeppelin." The band changed the spelling of "lead" to "led" so that it wouldn't be confused with "lead" as in a "lead singer" or "lead guitar".
The song "The Blimp" by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band as issued on their 1969 Straight Records album Trout Mask Replica is a parody of Morrison's live description of the disaster as aired on radio the following day.
The satirical song "Smash Flop Hits" by Phil Ochs includes a verse about the Hindenburg disaster.
In season 1, episode 4 of Entourage, Ari suggests to Vince that his next movie should be Hindenburg, stating that "It's like Titanic on a blimp." No further reference is made in the episode.
In season 2, episode 17 of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, the twist at the end of "Bon Voyage" reveals that the story has been taking place on the Hindenburg moments before the crash. At the end of the episode, the story was revealed to be fictional.
Seinfeld made at least two references to the disaster. At the end of the episode "The Pothole," Newman's mail truck erupts into flames (after a series of events caused by Kramer), causing him to cry out, "Oh, the humanity!" The episode "The Puerto Rican Day" features a subplot in which George attempts to deliver a comical line ("That's gotta hurt!") during the fiery climax of the (fictional) film Blimp: The Hindenburg Story.
In The Sopranos episode, "Kaisha", Phil Leotardo notes the disappearance of Fat Dom Gamiello, and surmises that the Sopranos family killed Dom because he was last seen in New Jersey. Tony Soprano denies that claim, emphasizing the lack of evidence to support it, and adds: "The Hindenburg was last seen in New Jersey, too".
In the 1996 episode of The Simpsons "Bart the Fink" Bart receives a cheque book depicting the Hindenburg Disaster.
The Hindenburg disaster is chronicled in the popular 1970s television drama, The Waltons where John Boy Walton wins a writing contest to cover the landing of the Hindenburg, witnessing the unforeseen tragedy in person. Original newsreel footage of the event was integrated into the episode's scenes.
In season 4 of the sitcom 'Til Death, Brad Garrett's character Eddy is writing a book on the Hindenburg disaster.
In the season 11 episode of Family Guy titled "Yug Ylimaf", Brian goes back in time to the Hindenburg disaster to have sex with a girl he met. They use the footage of the disaster in that scene and add Brian and the girl to the footage.
On The Richard Bey Show they used the audio from the disaster as a sound effect, specifically the "Oh the humanity!" line.
In the Archer episode "Skytanic", which takes place on board an airship, Archer makes several references to the Hindenburg due to his paranoia about the airship catching fire, despite the airship's captain repeatedly telling him that the ship uses non-flammable helium.
In an episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, while Gumball and Darwin escape from Molly's universe, they all jump upon an airship resembling the Hindenburg that then catches fire and crashes into a structural pylon, much like the disaster.
In the Simpsons episode "Lisa The Beauty Queen", when Barney takes control of the Duff Blimp, he crashes it into an antenna, causing it to catch fire. Kent Brockman subsequently says the famous line "Oh the humanity!".
In the Blue Mountain State episode "The Corn Field Pt.1" the incident is referenced by Harmon when discussing a large joint of weed. The line "Oh the humanity!" is used jokingly by Donnie who is promptly ostracized by Larry for making light of the tragedy.
The pilot episode of the NBC TV series Timeless (3 October 2016) revolves around a criminal who steals a time machine in an effort to alter the events of the past, starting with the Hindenburg disaster. In the episode, a journalist standing directly under the Hindenburg gets killed when it crashes down (in the original timeline). Historically, however, it was a man on the ground docking crew who died.
The Discovery Channel series MythBusters explored the incendiary paint hypothesis and the hydrogen hypothesis in an episode that aired January 10, 2007. While their experiments didn't concern what actually started the fire, the show's hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, demonstrated that when set alight with a blowtorch a 1:50 scale model of the Hindenburg burnt twice as fast in the presence of diffused hydrogen as without it. Combustion was observed in the burning skin, which would have accelerated the fire, but their experiments showed that hydrogen was the main fuel. The hydrogen-filled model produced a fire with flames that came out of the nose and resembled the newsreel footage of the Hindenburg disaster. That program concluded that the IPT myth was "Busted".
The MythBusters constructed three 1/50 scale models made out of welded steel wire and covered in cotton fabric. They were suspended from a hangar ceiling and stayed horizontal the entire time. The first model was painted with iron-oxide and then aluminum powder dopes, closely replicating the actual skin of the Hindenburg. Ignited with a blowtorch, it took about 2 minutes to burn, with thermite-like events (sparkling blazes) noted in a few places. The second model had the same skin, but a water trough inside diffused hydrogen gas at sub-explosive concentrations. This one burned about twice as fast, with more thermite burning. The third model, done more for spectacle than anything else, had the skin painted with a thermite-like iron-oxide and aluminum powder enriched dope. It was noted that it would probably be far too heavy to fly. With model 2's hydrogen enrichment, it took 30 seconds to completely consume the skin. The conclusion was that neither the hydrogen gas nor the flammable skin bore sole responsibility for the speed of the fire, but both contributed.
The National Geographic Channel program Seconds From Disaster had veteran air crash investigator Greg Feith study all of the available evidence, including eyewitness accounts, interviews with the last two living survivors, newsreel footage, weather reports, and the Hindenburg blueprints. Feith burned a sample of doped cloth and it took one minute to consume the whole piece, ruling out the skin as the primary accelerant. Feith's investigation came to a conclusion that the hydrogen puncture hypothesis was most probable. He also proved that by adding white cloth to a hydrogen flame that it would change the fire's color from invisible to orange.
In Search of..., a show mainly focused on paranormal investigations and conspiracy theories, made an episode based on this tragic accident, and immediately raised the question of whether it was really an accident or instead sabotage by then-Nazi Germany.
Devious Maides season four episode eight, Adrian and Evalyn toast their divorce with a bottle of 1932 Riesling salvaged from the Hindenburg.
- "Leadbelly: The Hindenburg Disaster." lib.unc.edu, May 6, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
- MythBusters Season 5, Episode 70.