Places > Cardington > Airships
Evening News 14th October 1929(Late Extra Edition)
HOW R101 SET OFF ON HER FIRST FLIGHT
CHEERS FROM HUNDREDS OF VOICES
HOT LUNCH ON BOARD
VILLAGES STOP WORK TO SEE HER PASS
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Cardington, near Bedford, Monday
Hundreds upon hundreds of people, hundreds upon hundreds of cars, came to Cardington today to see R101 set off on her maiden flight.
And hundreds upon hundreds of voices set up a mighty cheer as she was released from her mooring mast and rose slowly into 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 were 4,500 horsepower, 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 14 passengers were served with a hot luncheon similar to that served in a railway dining car. The menu was:
Roast mutton and vegetables
Cheese and biscuits
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 beneathquaint huddled villages, woods auame with the glory of Autumn, roads like narrow ribbonsher commander sent out calm wireless messages.
But down on solid earth her passing was the thrill of thrills.
I stood on the village street of Elstow as the R101 came over the thatched houses at noon. The villagers stopped work, poured out of their homes and stared skyward. So did the people of all the towns and villages over which the R101 passed.
There above them sailed the greatest airship in the world, huge and majestic, a vast bulk 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 herglass panels 32 feet wide, but looking like little slips in the vast expansion of her hulland we could imagine the faces gazing down on us through a thousand feet of air.
Evening News 14th October 1929
Page last updated: 3rd February 2014