1937 – The Hindenburg disaster

The LZ 129 Hindenburg was the lead ship of its class (which was also named for it). A German passenger lighter-than-air craft, it was approaching Lakehurst Naval Station in New Jersey on the evening of May 6, 1937, to disembark passengers, having set out from Frankfurt in Germany three days earlier.

At 7:25pm local time, the Hindenburg caught fire. The reason for the fire is unknown, even today. The hydrogen-filled gasbag of the airship burned quickly and hotly, being consumed in the first 90 seconds or so of the blaze. The cloth and wood that made up most of the body of the ship – and all of the areas actually inhabited – continued to burn after this. Of the 97 passengers and crew on board, 35 were killed in the blaze (and a member of the ground crew was also killed). The Hindenburg disaster effectively spelled the end of the zeppelin era, and air travel from 1937 onwards has been almost entirely conducted in heavier-than-air vehicles.

Referenced in:
History Is Made By Stupid People — Arrogant Worms