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Hindenburg Mystery Solved 76 Years After Catastrophe

The mystery of the Hindenburg disaster has finally been solved 76 years after the in-flight exposition occurred.

The cause of the May 6, 1937, incident that killed 35 of the 100 passengers and crew members on board was static electricity, says a team of experts who have been looking into the real trigger.

They say that after the ship flew into a thunderstorm a build up of hydrogen led to the explosion.

The iconic airship had reportedly become charged with static as a result of the electrical storm and broken wire or a sticking gas valve leaked the hydrogen into the ventilation shafts.

When ground crew members ran to take the landing ropes they effectively "earthed" the airship causing a spark.

The fire is believed to have started on the tail of the airship, igniting the leaking hydrogen.

Jem Stansfield, a British aeronautical engineer, and his team of researchers based at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, blew up and set fire to scale models of blimps more than 24m long to prove the real cause.

In a documentary that will be broadcast on Channel 4 in Britain on Thursday, Stanfield and other experts explain the sequence of events that triggered the explosion.

The researchers say their reason for conducting the experiments was to rule out theories ranging from a bomb planted by a terrorist to explosive properties in the paint used to coat the Hindenburg, the Independent reports.

The 245m German airship was preparing to land at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester Township, New Jersey, when it caught fire and quickly became engulfed in flames in front horrified onlookers.

Investigations conducted after the disaster deemed that a sudden spark had ignited leaking hydrogen gas in the airship.

However, investigators could not come to an agreement on what caused the spark, or the leaking gas.

Conspiracy theories began to spread that the Hindenburg had been wiped out by a bomb or that someone had shot down the airship from below.

Stansfield and his team were able to dispel those rumors after they recreated different scenarios with mini-replicas, studied archive footage of the disaster and collected eyewitness accounts.

‘I think you had massive distribution of hydrogen throughout the aft half of the ship; you had an ignition source pull down into the ship, and that whole back portion of the ship went up almost at once,’ said airship historian Dan Grossman.

Mark Giles- at Synapse Product Development

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