Obviously, no one expected that the Hindenburg would explode during the mooring process, so it the expectation would have been that a passenger aircraft was going to arrive, the passengers would disembark, and that would be it. This wasn't the first time that a zeppelin had crossed the Atlantic; it wasn't even the first time the Hindenburg itself had crossed the Atlantic.

So why was a reporter from Chicago in New Jersey to report on the Hindenburg's arrival?

  • 3
    It would only have been the 11th time. The Space Shuttle has launched some 135 times and people still cover the story towards the end; in 1937 far more people wouldn't have seen or heard much details about the airship. It wasn't particularly strange for a single station to end a single reporter to record an eyewitness account. That Herbert Morrison was the only one rather speaks to the event's lack of newsworthiness, actually.
    – Semaphore
    Aug 26, 2015 at 7:22
  • @Semaphore - Herb Morrison, at least 5 film crews, unknown numbers of print journalists, and dozens of photojournalists.
    – Wad Cheber
    Aug 26, 2015 at 7:29
  • Morrison traveled there specifically because he wanted to broadcast an account of the Hidenburg's arrival. The newsreel teams were there as a matter of routine and didn't expect anything particularly newsworthy. One team even left early to watch a movie.
    – Semaphore
    Aug 26, 2015 at 7:38
  • 5
    Which is why I made my first comment drawing comparisons with the space shuttle. Journalists do actually go around to all sorts of unremarkable events for the off chance that something remarkable happens, even if they don't expect it to be newsworthy.
    – Semaphore
    Aug 26, 2015 at 7:48
  • 4
    and of course only the rich and famous traveled by airship because of the cost, and there were papparazzi back then just as there are now hoping to snatch a picture of some celebrity with a new flame...
    – jwenting
    Aug 26, 2015 at 9:35

2 Answers 2


All of the activities of the airship were considered interesting by the newspapers. The New York Times had 5 or 6 articles on the Hindenburg in April alone. The Hindenburg was by far the fastest way for a passenger to cross the Atlantic at the time, taking only about 70 hours (3 days) compared to regular ships which took about a week, twice as long. It's passages were keenly watched for "speed records". At the time, the line was promising to expand to a regular passenger schedule, and this was to be the first of such crossings, which promised to usher in a new generation of fast cross-Atlantic travel. The second flight in this new "regular" schedule was expected to bring newsreels of the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, a highly anticipated event by the American public, which increased the interest in this precursor flight.


A more general answer can be given. Transatlantic flights of airships were rare events. No comparison with modern airplane fights, and with regular ships crossings at that time. So it is not surprising that they had attention of the media. And they were available mostly to the "rich and famous", and these people always have attention of the media whatever they do. (The ticket for Hindenburg was $400 one way, which is very expensive!)

The regular passenger transatlantic service by airplanes was established only in 1939, according to Wikipedia.

There were two or three airships performing transatlantic flights regularly, and the total number of their flights was less than the number of manned space launches up to present. Space launches still call for media attention, especially the manned ones.

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