Over the last two days, rare footage of both the Hindenburg and Challenger disasters have sprung up online. I had it in my head to post both, but since I’m a bit late to the part of each, I figured it would be best to group them together.
A rare amateur video of the Challenger shuttle disaster has recently surfaced in Hicksville, NY, more than 25 years after the tragic event when seven astronauts lost their lives, including Christa McAuliffe.
Captured by registered nurse Bob Karman, the chilling raw footage was filmed from Orlando airport, just 80 kilometres from the launch site, as he was returning from a family vacation at Disney World. His late wife and 3-year-old daughter Kim, who now works at New Scientist, are visible in the beginning of the clip. “After shooting the video, I had a sense that something went wrong but it wasn’t until we were on the plane that the pilot confirmed the tragedy,” he says.
Karman always remembered filming the event but it was only recently, while researching historic amateur videos, that he became aware of the video’s rarity. Captured in an era that precedes mobile phones, when few people owned camcorders, it’s one of few video recordings of the disaster by a member of the public. In 2010, an article in The Guardian documented the discovery of a similar video, claiming that it was the only one in existence.
According to NASA spokesperson Michael Curie, NASA does not have a collection of amateur videos of the disaster. “The Rogers Commission used all the NASA photography and videos in its investigation but we do not know if they used outside amateur videos,” he says.
The clip was digitised last month from an old VHS tape. Karman believes he could be the only living person to have documented the tragedy on home video.
It’s kind of crazy to think footage of these types of events are still being unearthed or waiting to be discovered.