An awe-inspiring airship. A murderous conspiracy. A devastating catastrophe.
Frankfurt, May 1937. The Hindenburg, the world's largest airship, is getting ready to fly to New York. A vehicle of staggering dimensions, it is the pride of Nazi Germany. But it has one serious flaw: due to an American embargo preventing the sale of helium to Germany, the Hindenburg is filled with highly combustible hydrogen gas instead. To Merten Kröger, an engineer who helped design the Hindenburg, the ship is a stick of dynamite waiting for a spark.
The young man of great charm but modest means has fallen in love with the wealthy Jennifer van Zandt, the daughter of an American industrialist who wants to sell helium to the Germans. Just before the ship takes off, Merten learns how far the industrialist will go: he has had a bomb placed on the airship. What van Zandt didn't know is that his wife and daughter would be on board. Merten sneaks aboard the airship without a minute to spare.
The young couple is reunited, and despite the great difference in class and social status between them, Jennifer, too, avows her love for Merten. He tells her of the bomb hidden somewhere on the airship. But there is little time for explanations, since Merten must flee: he is being sought for a murder he says he did not commit. Jennifer is confused – is Merten lying to her? On the run from the crew, Merten overhears Jennifer's mother telling someone to reset the bomb, as the Hindenburg is expected to land in Lakehurst, near New York, several hours behind schedule. Before he can find out whom she was talking to, he is caught and brutally beaten.
Once proof is found that Merten did not commit the murder and that he is telling the truth about the bomb, the crew begins a race-against-time search to find it – a search for the needle in a haystack. Jennifer is shocked to learn that her mother was in on the conspiracy. Unfortunately, Mrs. van Zandt also doesn't know the location of the explosives. And when the only person on board who knows where the dynamite has been hidden plunges into the sea to his death, it looks like nothing can save the Hindenburg anymore. Awaited by festive crowds, photographers and radio reporters, the airship majestically approaches Lakehurst…