View Full Version : Airships

22nd Apr 2007, 00:35
Anyone on here old enough to have flown on these in scheduled passenger service? I only go back as far as the Stratocruiser which on reflection was rather luxurious compared to today's cram them in and shut them up.

I still would go for an airship today with a two day crossing of the Atlantic being pampered all the way.

Footless Halls
23rd Apr 2007, 20:59
I believe a deceased second cousin of mine flew as a passenger in the Do X flying boat. I know that was hardly 'lighter-than-air', but does it count?

henry crun
23rd Apr 2007, 22:07
I met a chap who was part of the crew of the R100 on its transatlantic flight.

23rd Apr 2007, 22:59
My father watched the R100 go by on it's way to Montreal.

24th Apr 2007, 00:38
When I was with Big Airways at LHR we had a chap in American Aircraft Overhaul who, at the age of 63, was sent on a Concorde course and transferred to Concorde maintenance. We asked him what was the first aircraft he ever worked on - expecting something like Elizabethans or Lancastrians.

His first acquaintance with a flying machine was "The Hindenburg"!

As a Boy Scout he had been on the mooring ropes when the ill-fated airship visited Croydon. That's quite a span of transatlantic experience - Hindenburg to Concorde.

24th Apr 2007, 03:38
My mother recalled seeing the R-101 go down Channel (presumably off Torquay) which would be just hours before it crashed in France. Family legend is that my father was borne in Woolwich during a Zeppelin raid (1917).

Last Summer, I was in Fort Lauderdale and one of the Goodyear blimps was churning up & down the coast doing advertising runs. It was pretty impressive but only a toy compared to the big dirigibles.

Double Zero
25th Apr 2007, 21:20
Never got near one myself, but my mother saw the R101, R100 & Hindenburg when living near Chester, and father saw the Hindenburg - from a distance - and R101 while living near Pulborough, West Sussex.

I quite fancied the 'Skyhook' flying saucer type job mooted as an industrial lifter in the '80s - not to be confused with the Harrier Skyhook project.

Much more to the point, have you read 'Slide rule', the autobiography of Nevil Shute ?

Fascinating, and essential reading for anyone interested in airship history, as Nevil shute Norway was on the design team of the R100 working against / alongside the R101.

He of course later formed Airspeed.

If interested in the paranormal in any way ( open mind here ) there is a very readable book about the R101 crash and aftermath, " The airmen who would not die".

The author, whose name I forget, was so amazed by what he found that he went on to investigate the Tristar crash in the Everglades, " The ghost of flight 401".

By pure coincidence last week I met an ex- stewardess who was involved in all that - must say she seemed a perfectly straight, intelligent person ( no jokes about hosties at least this time please ! ) and was utterly convinced, also had been threatened at the time not to talk to the media.

Anyway I strongly recommend 'Slide Rule'.


25th Apr 2007, 21:49
I saw the Hindenburg at Lakehurst NAS a few trips before the last. Unfortunately I was so young I don't really remember anything of it.

Footless Halls
29th Apr 2007, 18:01
Unashamed threadcreep, but...

There's a lot of discussion of how almost no-0ne involved in the First World War is still alive, although when I was a kid any old boy you met on the street had been on the Somme, etc. The man who ran our local model shop (naturally enough someone I met quite frequently) had flown in the RFC. And in only a decade or so that entire time will no longer be in living memory.

But this 'airship' question raises a further point. There can't be a huge number of people still alive who flew before the SECOND War. It seems that perhaps there is no-one still alive who could tell us what it was like to fly, or fly in, one of the great rigid airships.

The Imperial War Museum does a great job of recording 'aural history' from veterans, but who is doing this for 'old pilots'?

15th Jun 2021, 07:38
Thought I would resurrect this thread as I stumbled across this very interesting video on the R101 and R100.


15th Jun 2021, 09:05
Very good Foxxter. Thank you. I know that Dowding was affected badly by the whole R-101 affair.

15th Jun 2021, 09:33
Double Zero
John Fuller is the author you were looking for . I have also read both of these . In addition I do recommend "The Millionth Chance" on the R101 by James Leasor. He also adds a chapter on the Lady Medium's account .

Less Hair
15th Jun 2021, 10:15
Even these days there are scheduled Zeppelin flights available.

15th Jun 2021, 10:41

If you believe the hype, you can cruise on this in four years time.

Less Hair
15th Jun 2021, 10:43
The air lander? I thought it crash landed?

15th Jun 2021, 10:48
The prototype got damaged in moderate winds when it broke from its mooring. Apparently they are pressing ahead with a slightly bigger production model.

15th Jun 2021, 13:41
They'll need a bigger hedge fund.....

15th Jun 2021, 20:21
A distant cousin of mine was killed on the R.101 some years before I was born!

Any reports of this kind of craft that I have seen over the past decades, leads me to see this as niche markets only.

15th Jun 2021, 20:37
I ca remember my father telling me that one of his relations had a house hit by a Zeppelin when them bombed Great Yarmouth early in WW1.
Apparently it did several thousand pounds worth of improvements.....

16th Jun 2021, 13:39
My Dad saw the R101 go over - he kept the newspaper cuttings of the accident.

16th Jun 2021, 15:48
I do remember a feasibility study years ago (not UK) for a nuclear powered RPV airship for continuous high altitude maritime surveillance .

Yellow Sun
16th Jun 2021, 16:53
For a good insight into the early days of airships try:

My Airship Flights 1915-1930 by George Meager (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&cm_sp=SearchF-_-home-_-Results&an=Meager&tn=My+airship+flights&kn=&isbn=)

A good level of technical detail, flying even the simple ones was a lot more complex than I had realised. There are some hair raising tales from the WW1 period.


17th Jun 2021, 09:09
In the nineties, there was a brief interest in resurrecting transport operation of modern airships, and in the vast new polders in The Netherlands, a factory and landing or mooring field (600 m in circumference) was planned. Design had started, and I was intrigued by one of the problems the designers encountered in the certification: micro climatic effects on the long (300m +) length of such airships. Especially the effect of icing or even rain on one end of the ship needed to be countered relative to the clean other side of the ship. Ice can be very heavy on such a scale. I believe there was even a joint effort (Anglo-Dutch) to propose certification rules for transport airships.

17th Jun 2021, 09:55
I think they (airships) may have been looked at for recce roles in Norn Iron at one time.

17th Jun 2021, 16:29
I have heard that someone intends to run a service from Liverpool to Belfast. Is there any truth in this ???

17th Jun 2021, 17:08
Airships were one option for persistent surveillance in N.I., considered in the mid 70's at least.

18th Jun 2021, 10:05
Alan Bond? had an airship in Oz in the 80s? Saw it over Brisbane on scenic flights, looked fantastic.
later visited it when moored near Cairns. No ops that day due strong SE trade winds. Expensive too, for a jolly seat.

Would have been a great solution for Barrier Reef surveillance. Drift silently along on the wind and the Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese Indo illegal fishers, no noise, no reason to look up.
Once they heard an aircraft, they just bolt for the 12 mile limit. Bit different these days with 200 kms Economic zone, but those after easy $s don’t give a stuff about that in remote areas.

One moored over the Torres Straits with radar would have given the smugglers to/ from PNG a run for their money.