The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), there were 35 fatalities. There was also one death of a ground crewman.
The disaster was the subject of spectacular newsreel coverage, photographs, and Herbert Morrison’s recorded radio eyewitness reports from the landing field, which were broadcast the next day. A variety of hypotheses have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire. The incident shattered public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airship and marked the end of the airship era.
Though the disaster took place 77 years ago, some say that reverberations of the tragic event, of a paranormal nature, can still be felt around the Lakehurst Naval Base to this day––especially in Hangar No. 1.
Weird NJ readers share their stories…
The Haunting of Hangar No. 1
I was stationed at Lakehurst Naval Base, and let me tell you, Hangar No. 1 is indeed haunted. They used it as a morgue after the Hindenburg explosion, and there is a tunnel leading from the adjacent hangars where it was cooler to stow the bodies there. As adventurous as we were, no one would explore No. 1 after dark. There were serious bad vibes in that place!
Anyone in the hangar would get the “Let’s boogie now!” feeling. There were always footstep sounds up in the rafters. Something happened there to us, where a bunch of burly SEABEES all ran out screaming like girls, but for the life of me I can’t recall what it was. We were in one of the classrooms, doing MOPP training and we all ran out in the fishboots and charcoal suits, and it was high noon in the 90 degree mark! –Glen F.
My childhood in Toms River (’70s and ’80s) brought me to some fascinating places, namely Lakehurst NAS (Hindenburg crash site), where my father was stationed with Helicopter Squadron 75 in those days. The history of this facility is fascinating and really hasn’t been adequately chronicled for its unique place in New Jersey’s history.
Growing up in and around the base, I was given “free reign,” and allowed to wander and explore what was mostly abandoned, even back then. My father would take me around the base to see different parts of the facility, and it still intrigues me today. The Cathedral of the Air, which served as a base chapel for fallen aviators, sits quietly nestled in the pines. To me, it has an aura all its own. I once attended a funeral mass there for my father’s best friend, who was killed in a crash in the early 1980s. What makes that even more poignant to me, is that the man they buried that day took my father’s spot on the aircraft in which he and two others lost their lives.
The sites that I knew as a child still exist today, and have stories all to themselves. In short, I guess that Lakehurst still haunts me today. I think the dynamic history alone makes it “weird” enough. –Chris Richardson
Weirdness in the Skies Over Lakehurst
I’m an air traffic controller at Lakehurst Tower. We always get calls from concerned civilians and local police because people swear they are seeing dark triangles or large, round craft that are completely silent. Truth is, the triangles they’re looking at are really C17s conducting NVD (Night Vision) Ops with all their collision/landing/configuration lights off. Those huge, glowing spheres are actually test airships (blimps) that have an internal light that when lit makes the whole airship appear to glow a dull white. That being said, there are times we see things in the tower that we can NOT explain and do NOT match up with our radar, but when it’s your job to watch the sky all night, you have to get used to seeing weird things. On another note, the base is old as the hills and haunted as hell. –Yankee Oscar
Photos by Weird NJ/Mark Moran