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If you remember anything about 9th Grade History class, or at least the Zeppelin album cover, you’ll already know a little something about the spectacular end to the mighty Airship Era: the crash of the Hindenburg in 1937.

Welp, while you’re suffering a Monday hangover at work apres Cinco De Drinko, we’ll remind you of the anniversary of the Hindenburg’s fire that was captured so well on film at Lakehurst, NJ on May 6th of that year. Looking back, it seems weird to see this giant, gas-filled passenger balloon with the Nazi swastikas on the 4-winged tail floating over New York City in those early photographs. But in ’37, we wouldn’t enter WWII for another four years and Hitler wasn’t a name to be erased from family histories yet.

What does the Hindenburg disaster have to do with car culture? Some might say nothing. But we contend that mechanical innovation, bitchin’ lightweight aeronautical equipment and technological advances in aerodynamics had everything to do with the development of car culture in this country – all embodied in airship travel of the early twentieth century. And the link between WWII vets, Southern California’s automotive aftermarket industry, iconography of mid-century American outsider culture, land speed racing and military surplus had so much to do with what influences us more than half a century later can be traced back to our relationship with the Germans pre-WWII and the young airship industry of the period. And let’s not forget the really cool Bavarian “Hindenburg” typography on the skin of that gas balloon. That shit was sick.

So, dig on some of the most famous newsreel footage of all-time in quiet reverence to the 36 souls lost that day 76 years ago and maybe even play “Your Time Is Gonna Come” from the Zeppelin album that bears the Hindenburg’s notorious image. And read up on just a few of the mountains of details of the wreck when you get a breather. Droppin’ knowledge, kid.

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  1. jack pine says:

    I beg to differ on the Zeppelin album reference. I would listen to the boys burnin’ down “How Many More Times” … maybe the BBC live version… to watch the video of the carnage unfold.

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