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Evening News 14th October 1929
HOW SHE SET OFF
Cheers From hundreds Upon Hundreds of Voices
From Our Special Correspondent
Cardington, near Bedford, Monday
Hundreds upon hundreds of people, and hundreds upon hundreds of cars, came to Cardington to see R101 set off on her maiden flight.
And hundreds upon hundreds of voices sent up a mighty cheer as she was released from her mooring mast and rose slowly in the air.
There was no sun, and the dull grey sky reflected on the silver of the airship gave her a dark and sinister look.
Long before she left her engines were started up, and although they are 4,500 horse-power, the roar floated down to the crowds on the ground with the soft rhythm of music.
Air-Marshall Sir John Higgins represented the Air Council, and as he went into the electric lift on the mooring tower with Lieut-Col V.C.Richmond, the designer of the ship, there were cries of "Good luck to you all".
There were busy scenes while the ship was being provisioned, vans drove up with bread, meat, vegetables, fruit and fresh cut flowers. Another van took extra wicker armchairs, which were sent up into the lounge.
The guests were served with a hot luncheon similar to that served in a railway dining-car. The menu was Soup, Roast mutton and vegetables, fruit salad, cheese and biscuits, coffee
Major Scott, the first man to cross the Atlantic in an airship, who is in command, was all smiles and full of confidence when he drove up in his car to the mooring tower.
"Everything is OK, and I am hoping we shall have a topping flight", he said as he walked to the lift to go to his place on the airship bridge.
As the airship droned its way towards London, with a slow panorama of England sliding gently beneath itquaint huddled villages, woods aflame with the glory of autumn, roads like narrow ribbonsher commander sent out calm wireless messages.
I stood in the village street of Elstow as R101 came over the thatched houses at noon. The villagers poured out of their homes and stared skyward.
There sailed the greatest airship in the world, huge and majestic, a vast baulk against the grey autumn skies. Her size was staggering. She was no narrow shape like a pencil, as the Zeppelins of dreaded memory were: she was a vessel of stout fat curves instinct with strength and power.
The upper curves of her shone and glistened in the light.
The lower curves were dark with shadow.
From her, as she slid tremendously overhead, came the low musical drumming of her engines.
We could see the gondolas hanging below hertiny toy like gondolas. We could see the windows in her hullglass panels 32 feet wide, but looking like little ships in the vast expansion of her hulland we could imagine the faces gazing down on us through a thousand feet of air.
The Evening News 14th October 1929
Page last updated: 3rd February 2014