Director of Civil Aviation, Air Ministry, Secretary of State, Sir Sefton, Lord Thompson
The R.101, 777 ft long with a total volume of 5.5 million cubic feet, was built by the Air Ministry for the Imperial airship scheme. It first flew on 14 October 1929, but subsequent test flights revealed numerous design faults. Pictured here moored at the Royal Airship Works Cardington, Bedfordshire, before setting off on the 4th October 1930 to fly to Egypt and India. Early the next morning over Beauvais, near Paris, an unexplained dive caused the airship to strike the ground. Of the 54 people onboard, only six survived; the dead including Lord Thompson Secretary of State for Air and Sir Sefton Brancker Director of Civil Aviation. This was a devastating blow to the plan to introduce airships on the Empire routes from which they never recovered; all further development was then abandoned.
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