14 episodes

Fatal Flight brings vividly to life the year of operation of R.101, the last great British airship—a luxury liner three and a half times the length of a 747 jet, with a spacious lounge, a dining room that seated fifty, glass-walled promenade decks, and a smoking room. The British expected R.101 to spearhead a fleet of imperial airships that would dominate the skies as British naval ships, a century earlier, had ruled the seas. The dream ended when, on its demonstration flight to India, R.101 crashed in France, tragically killing nearly all aboard.
Combining meticulous research with superb storytelling, Fatal Flight guides us from the moment the great airship emerged from its giant shed—nearly the largest building in the British Empire—to soar on its first flight, to its last fateful voyage. The full story behind R.101 shows that, although it was a failure, it was nevertheless a supremely imaginative human creation. The technical achievement of creating R.101 reveals the beauty, majesty, and, of course, the sorrow of the human experience.
The narrative follows First Officer Noel Atherstone and his crew from the ship’s first test flight in 1929 to its fiery crash on October 5, 1930. It reveals in graphic detail the heroic actions of Atherstone as he battled tremendous obstacles. He fought political pressures to hurry the ship into the air, fended off Britain’s most feted airship pilot, who used his influence to take command of the ship and nearly crashed it, and, a scant two months before departing for India, guided the rebuilding of the ship to correct its faulty design. After this tragic accident, Britain abandoned airships, but R.101 flew again, its scrap melted down and sold to the Zeppelin Company, who used it to create LZ 129, an airship even more mighty than R.101—and better known as the Hindenburg.
Set against the backdrop of the British Empire at the height of its power in the early twentieth century, Fatal Flight portrays an extraordinary age in technology, fueled by humankind’s obsession with flight.

Fatal Flight Bill Hammack

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 14 Ratings

Fatal Flight brings vividly to life the year of operation of R.101, the last great British airship—a luxury liner three and a half times the length of a 747 jet, with a spacious lounge, a dining room that seated fifty, glass-walled promenade decks, and a smoking room. The British expected R.101 to spearhead a fleet of imperial airships that would dominate the skies as British naval ships, a century earlier, had ruled the seas. The dream ended when, on its demonstration flight to India, R.101 crashed in France, tragically killing nearly all aboard.
Combining meticulous research with superb storytelling, Fatal Flight guides us from the moment the great airship emerged from its giant shed—nearly the largest building in the British Empire—to soar on its first flight, to its last fateful voyage. The full story behind R.101 shows that, although it was a failure, it was nevertheless a supremely imaginative human creation. The technical achievement of creating R.101 reveals the beauty, majesty, and, of course, the sorrow of the human experience.
The narrative follows First Officer Noel Atherstone and his crew from the ship’s first test flight in 1929 to its fiery crash on October 5, 1930. It reveals in graphic detail the heroic actions of Atherstone as he battled tremendous obstacles. He fought political pressures to hurry the ship into the air, fended off Britain’s most feted airship pilot, who used his influence to take command of the ship and nearly crashed it, and, a scant two months before departing for India, guided the rebuilding of the ship to correct its faulty design. After this tragic accident, Britain abandoned airships, but R.101 flew again, its scrap melted down and sold to the Zeppelin Company, who used it to create LZ 129, an airship even more mighty than R.101—and better known as the Hindenburg.
Set against the backdrop of the British Empire at the height of its power in the early twentieth century, Fatal Flight portrays an extraordinary age in technology, fueled by humankind’s obsession with flight.

    Opening Credits

    Opening Credits

    Figures and Appendices

    Figure 1: Relative Sizes of the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin, HMA R.101, and USS Akron
    Figure 2: Inside His Majesty’s Airship R.101
    Figure 3: R.101’s Proposed Route to India
    Figure 4: The Mooring Tower at the Royal Airship Works
    Figure 5: Route of R.101 on its First Flight over London
    Figure 6: The First Forty-Five Minutes of R.101’s Final Flight
    Figure 7: Route of R.101’s Final Flight
    Appendix A: British Passenger Airships Prior to R.100 and R.101
    Appendix B: Passenger and Crew on Board R.101’s Flight to India
    Appendix C: Flight of HM Airship R.101 to India: Notes for Press Use
    Appendix D: Report on Flight in the Graf Zeppelin and Visit to Friedrichshafen by Lieutenant-Colonel V. C. Richmond and Squadron Leader F. M. Rope
    Appendix E: Manufacture of the Gas Bags of R.101
    Appendix F: Colmore Report on R.101’s Lift November 1929

    • 1 min
    Prologue: The Perennial Promise of Airships

    Prologue: The Perennial Promise of Airships

    Figures and Appendices

    Figure 1: Relative Sizes of the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin, HMA R.101, and USS Akron
    Figure 2: Inside His Majesty’s Airship R.101
    Figure 3: R.101’s Proposed Route to India
    Figure 4: The Mooring Tower at the Royal Airship Works
    Figure 5: Route of R.101 on its First Flight over London
    Figure 6: The First Forty-Five Minutes of R.101’s Final Flight
    Figure 7: Route of R.101’s Final Flight
    Appendix A: British Passenger Airships Prior to R.100 and R.101
    Appendix B: Passenger and Crew on Board R.101’s Flight to India
    Appendix C: Flight of HM Airship R.101 to India: Notes for Press Use
    Appendix D: Report on Flight in the Graf Zeppelin and Visit to Friedrichshafen by Lieutenant-Colonel V. C. Richmond and Squadron Leader F. M. Rope
    Appendix E: Manufacture of the Gas Bags of R.101
    Appendix F: Colmore Report on R.101’s Lift November 1929

    • 15 min
    Chapter 1: The Debut of the Great British Airship

    Chapter 1: The Debut of the Great British Airship

    Figures and Appendices

    Figure 1: Relative Sizes of the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin, HMA R.101, and USS Akron
    Figure 2: Inside His Majesty’s Airship R.101
    Figure 3: R.101’s Proposed Route to India
    Figure 4: The Mooring Tower at the Royal Airship Works
    Figure 5: Route of R.101 on its First Flight over London
    Figure 6: The First Forty-Five Minutes of R.101’s Final Flight
    Figure 7: Route of R.101’s Final Flight
    Appendix A: British Passenger Airships Prior to R.100 and R.101
    Appendix B: Passenger and Crew on Board R.101’s Flight to India
    Appendix C: Flight of HM Airship R.101 to India: Notes for Press Use
    Appendix D: Report on Flight in the Graf Zeppelin and Visit to Friedrichshafen by Lieutenant-Colonel V. C. Richmond and Squadron Leader F. M. Rope
    Appendix E: Manufacture of the Gas Bags of R.101
    Appendix F: Colmore Report on R.101’s Lift November 1929

    • 25 min
    Chapter 2: Airborne at Last

    Chapter 2: Airborne at Last

    Figures and Appendices

    Figure 1: Relative Sizes of the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin, HMA R.101, and USS Akron
    Figure 2: Inside His Majesty’s Airship R.101
    Figure 3: R.101’s Proposed Route to India
    Figure 4: The Mooring Tower at the Royal Airship Works
    Figure 5: Route of R.101 on its First Flight over London
    Figure 6: The First Forty-Five Minutes of R.101’s Final Flight
    Figure 7: Route of R.101’s Final Flight
    Appendix A: British Passenger Airships Prior to R.100 and R.101
    Appendix B: Passenger and Crew on Board R.101’s Flight to India
    Appendix C: Flight of HM Airship R.101 to India: Notes for Press Use
    Appendix D: Report on Flight in the Graf Zeppelin and Visit to Friedrichshafen by Lieutenant-Colonel V. C. Richmond and Squadron Leader F. M. Rope
    Appendix E: Manufacture of the Gas Bags of R.101
    Appendix F: Colmore Report on R.101’s Lift November 1929

    • 30 min
    Chapter 3: An Inept Commander Takes Charge

    Chapter 3: An Inept Commander Takes Charge

    Figures and Appendices

    Figure 1: Relative Sizes of the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin, HMA R.101, and USS Akron
    Figure 2: Inside His Majesty’s Airship R.101
    Figure 3: R.101’s Proposed Route to India
    Figure 4: The Mooring Tower at the Royal Airship Works
    Figure 5: Route of R.101 on its First Flight over London
    Figure 6: The First Forty-Five Minutes of R.101’s Final Flight
    Figure 7: Route of R.101’s Final Flight
    Appendix A: British Passenger Airships Prior to R.100 and R.101
    Appendix B: Passenger and Crew on Board R.101’s Flight to India
    Appendix C: Flight of HM Airship R.101 to India: Notes for Press Use
    Appendix D: Report on Flight in the Graf Zeppelin and Visit to Friedrichshafen by Lieutenant-Colonel V. C. Richmond and Squadron Leader F. M. Rope
    Appendix E: Manufacture of the Gas Bags of R.101
    Appendix F: Colmore Report on R.101’s Lift November 1929

    • 21 min
    Chapter 4: Inside the Great Airship

    Chapter 4: Inside the Great Airship

    Figures and Appendices

    Figure 1: Relative Sizes of the Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin, HMA R.101, and USS Akron
    Figure 2: Inside His Majesty’s Airship R.101
    Figure 3: R.101’s Proposed Route to India
    Figure 4: The Mooring Tower at the Royal Airship Works
    Figure 5: Route of R.101 on its First Flight over London
    Figure 6: The First Forty-Five Minutes of R.101’s Final Flight
    Figure 7: Route of R.101’s Final Flight
    Appendix A: British Passenger Airships Prior to R.100 and R.101
    Appendix B: Passenger and Crew on Board R.101’s Flight to India
    Appendix C: Flight of HM Airship R.101 to India: Notes for Press Use
    Appendix D: Report on Flight in the Graf Zeppelin and Visit to Friedrichshafen by Lieutenant-Colonel V. C. Richmond and Squadron Leader F. M. Rope
    Appendix E: Manufacture of the Gas Bags of R.101
    Appendix F: Colmore Report on R.101’s Lift November 1929

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
14 Ratings

14 Ratings

JeffF01 ,

A very good listen

Fascinating and well-researched. The author does a good job of showing events rather than just telling about it.

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