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The Bournemouth

1951 saw the airship revival by the Airship Club, with the creation of the little known airship named "Bournemouth" and her brief career in reviving the interest in lighter than air travel

Statistics:
Length 108ft
Diameter 27ft
Speed 27mph
Engines

1 x 60hp

Volume 45,000cft

 

Belonging to the little known category of British built "private" airships, the "Bournemouth" was constructed by the Airship Club launched in 1951. As part of the club, Lord Ventry, Squadron Leader T.P. York-Moore and a small group of enthusiasts wanted to prove that airships could still return after the closure of the British Airship programme in 1932.

The project was funded largely by private enthusiasm, however the Bournemout Corporation made a substantial grant from it's "Festival of Britain" funds to assist with the completion of the craft and for it's first flight. This is how the British south coast resort managed to have an airship named after it. The idea being that the completed ship would play a part in the local celebrations of the Festival of Britain year.

To keep costs down, the Bournemouth was not to have a home "base" and the following quote from "Flight Magazine" 1950

"One of the most expensive items in the construction of an airship must be a hangar and at the present time it is one which, in a private venture, would be virtually impossible of achievement. Surprisingly, however, an airship is quite amenable to being tethered in the open, and we are assured by Lord Ventry that, with the aid of a protective screen of trees, a small non-rigid can safely ride out a 70 m.p.h. gale if properly picketed. This, therefore, is the plan for the Bournemouth—she will be kept inflated, and out-of-doors, during all spells of operational activity that promise to be fairly continuous."

Having someone to fly the ship was to prove an interesting issue for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as the idea behind the project was to give members of the Club an opportunity of flying in the ship and of learning to pilot it

Again an issue noted in "Flight" magazine as

"At present anybody who aspires to pilot an airship must hold a 1st, 2nd or 3rd class Airship Pilot's Licence (according to the size of the craft)—having first qualified by securing a private or commercial Balloon Pilot's Licence—and a Navigator's Ticket. There is, it seems, no lighter-than-air equivalent of the Provisional Pilot's Licence, so the eager pupils of the Airship Club are, clearly, going to present the Ministry of Civil Aviation with some new problems when the time comes."

The ship was constructed at Cardington, and the third flight was not overly successful as the ship crash landed on the hanger roof when a guy rope snagged when coming in to land. The film clip below interestingly shows optimism and spirit of the day.

 

Having a gross lift 3,060lb and useful lift of 13,000lb, the Bournemouth managed 3 flights in 1951 and then put in for repairs and a chance for the improvements for stability following the crash landing. A further eight flights were managed in 1952. It was found that the first set of steering planes were too small and made her unstable and she had a top plane on the first two testing flights of in 1951, however this was removed. In 1952 a larger set of de Havilland planes were fitted and made the ship quiet controllable. Only eleven flights were made through lack of funds, the last flight made on 16th August 1952, Battle of Britain Day.

If you have any personal memories or photo's you would like to share of this little known ship, then please contact the webmaster and we'll be happy to add them to the site for you

 

Related ships: {Non Rigid Airship Index}

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