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Daily Mirror 14th October 1929
BRITAINS GIANT AIRSHIP
Good Weather Conditions Forecast for the First Flight of R101
GREAT CROWDS OF VISITORS DURING WEEKEND
Thousands See 600ft Ascent Motorists Forbidden to Stop Procession of Cards
Britains 500,000 airship, R101, was last night ready for her first flight, which is planned to begin at 11 am today.
Riding gracefully at her mooring mast at Cardington, R101 looked enormous enough to face any weather, but experts declared that she will not leave the mast unless conditions are perfect. If conditions permit, the airship will be flown over London. The airship had, however, its first taste of partial freedom yesterday when it rose to a height of 600ft and then returned to the mast to give the mooring staff practice in making fast. The securing ropes were, however, kept attached at all times.
Great crowds visited the aerodrome during the weekend and amazing traffic scenes were witnessed, one hold-up of cars causing a traffic block five miles long.
AIRSHIP PROBLEM IF GALE COMES
Can R101 Ride Out a Storm at Her Mooring Mast?
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT Bedford, Sunday Night
I was informed officially tonight that R101 will start her flight at 11am tomorrow.
London will see the airship if the wind is south or southwest, the Air Ministrys forecast being South west or variable.
This afternoon over 100,00 people saw R101 leave the mooring tower and ascend to a height of 600ft shooting out a ton of water ballast as she did so.
The object was to give the mooring tower crew and the airship crew some practise in handling the airship.
Roads around the aerodrome for twenty miles were packed with cars and sightseers, and every hill became a natural grandstand.
Bedford High Street was a mass of vehicles and the traffic control lights had to be abandoned and the stream regulated by policeman. Jams occurred every few seconds, and at one time there was an unbroken line of stationary cars some five miles long.
The town is packed tonight and sleeping accommodation is at a premium. Among the crew of sixty in R101 is Assistant Coxswain Tapper one of the few survivors of the ill-fated R38 which exploded over the Humber.
Lunch and tea will be served during tomorrows flight.
SIX HOURS FLIGHT
Airship critics will find food for thought in the fact that even now, with the R101 moored to her mast, an element of doubt inevitably enters any discussion of tomorrows flight.
A sudden change in weather conditions will provide the airship experts with many problems and may even have disastrous results.
If a gale springs up while R101 is at her mooring tower, her commander will be faced with three alternatives. These are:-
To ride out the storm at the tower, which will provide the airship with the severest possible test.
To release the ship and let her take her chance.
To attempt to get the R101 back to her hanger.
All three alternatives contain an element of danger, but the last two are fraught with the gravest risks, and it is almost certain that in the event of a storm before the R101 leaves her mast the experts will decide to let her ride it out.
If bad weather blows up while R101 is in flight, she will, of course, have to battle against the gale, and it is because of this danger that the duration of the first flight will be only six hours.
Unrelaxing Care of the Guardians of Giant Airship
So great was the stream of cars bearing sightseers that the authorities had to forbid them to stop.
The cars then crawled past the aerodrome at the slowest possible pace to gain the best view.
At night the glare of searchlights lit up the great cigar light bulk, since her guardians dare not for a moment relax their watch.
Today an attempt to broadcast the return of R101 to her mast will be made from the tower itself
Daily Mirror 14th October 1929
Page last updated: 3rd February 2014