Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
Almost 80 years ago the Hindenburg was destroyed by fire as it was about to land in Lakehurst, New Jersey on 6 May 1937. Thirty-six people were killed, on what was the first of ten scheduled flights between Europe and the United States.
Thanks to modern technology you can watch the Pathe film of the end of the Hindenburg on your home computer – it is truly a terrifying sight, and a wonder that anyone survived at all.
There was, and is, a great deal of speculation about what may have caused the fire that destroyed the Hindenburg. Ariel Lawhon has taken all of the research and supposition and speculation and come to her own fictional conclusion in a superb novel about the Hindenburg and it’s crew and passengers, Flight of Dreams. She has chosen to use as her characters the real people who were on the great air ship – those who lived and died are true to fact. All of the facts about the Hindenburg in this novel are accurate, and they are utterly fascinating.
The Hindenburg was truly a luxury liner – think of the most elegant and luxurious ocean liner and this is what was reproduced in the form of a ship that could fly. There may have been some small inconveniences for the passengers to ensure their safety – smoking only in a smoking room, a single shower room for all passengers, but otherwise they were provided with the very best food and wine and, of course, the cachet of the voyage itself.
Just think what it would have been like to float – fly – just 600 feet above the ocean at a speed of only 80 miles per hour – it was a three-day voyage. Imagine seeing a 360 degree rainbow, and cruising into the fog off Newfoundland – almost crashing into Cape Race where the Hindenburg just about joined the Titanic as a victim of the North Atlantic.
Ariel Lawhon has brought to life the people who were on this fateful voyage. The crew included the only woman who worked on the ship, Emilie, who nursed a lost love and wondered if she can love Max, the experienced navigator who is so in love with her. We come to know other crewmembers as well as some of the well-heeled passengers, including a lovely family, with a teenage daughter and young sons – some will live and some will not. When the end comes it is only luck that determines life or death for those on board the Hindenburg.
We, of course, know that war will soon envelope all of Europe – the Nazi party is already in power and feared by many on this flight. There are some on this flight attempting to leave Germany forever – and some who will be forced to return despite their desire to leave.
Flight of Dreams is altogether an absolutely fascinating picture of the Hindenburg and it’s passengers and a suspenseful and moving story of those who were on the last flight of this magnificent flying machine.
To watch a video of the tragic ending of the Hindenburg click on the link below