The weather for Peter Belin’s flight home from Europe was largely serene. It was early in May 1937, and as touchdown in New Jersey approached, the recent Yale graduate snapped photos of the airport’s three-story hangar, the ground crew, and the stark, oval shadow of his mode of transportation, the Hindenburg zeppelin.

Moments later, after the crew flung down the landing ropes, an explosion rocked the Hindenburg’s rear. Peter grabbed his things — his datebook, his camera — and leapt from the doomed craft. He survived the 30-foot plunge.

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