Biggin Hill - 1972 - photo courtesty of Tony Hill
- photo's below courtesy of Den Burchmore collection
In February 1968 the Goodyear
Corporation initiated a $5 million expansion programme for it's
airship operation. Goodyear had been a major provider of non rigid
airships since the early 1920's. A decision was made in 1971 that
as part of this new programme that a ship be provided for public
relations operations based in Europe.
Components for the new ship,
the 4th in the new fleet, were created in Akron, Ohio, the base
of Goodyear operations for many decades, and loaded on board a
"Guppy" transport N1037V from Akron Municipal Airport,
the largest aircraft ever to fly out of the airport, then flown
over to the Royal Aircraft Establishment as known at the time,
The parts for Europa were
assembled in shed number 2, and the completed ship was first moved
out of the shed on 8th March 1972 when the first flight was made.
Unfortunalty the successful first flight was marred shortly afterwards
when on the 19th April, the ship tore away from it's mast, and
the envelope deflated. The ship and envelope came to rest, ironically,
the ship came to rest in a tree in the grounds of a Cotten End
house, once owned by Major George Herbert Scott, of the R101.
The ship was recovered and returned to the shed. The crew worked
to repair the ship and a spare envelope was flown over from Akron.
The ship was repaired emerged out of the Cardington shed on 25th
June. Wit this the Europa was able to fulfill it's duty over the
summer, including the coverage of the Munich Olympics.
The envelope of the Europa,
had a surface area of 21,600 sq ft and was made of two-ply Neoprene-coated
Dacron. Like the rest of the fleet, and all other airships since,
was inflated with helium. On each side of the silver envelope
was the livery of Goodyear airships, and the famous "winged
foot" logo. The steering rudders were painted light blue
with red stripe. One of the most advanced features of the ship,
was the addition of a four coloured sign, consisted of 3,780 lamps
which could create a flying "nightsign". The sign could
be read at a distance of 1 mile at a cruising height of 1,000
ft. The power for the lamps came from a turbojet APU mounted on
a removable pad on the undersurface of the ship's gondola. This
was used to drive the 500A 28V generator to supply power for the
lights. The turbojet was specifically designed to operate without
developing any appreciable amount of forward thrust to the ship.
The gondola, attached to the
underside of the envelope had enough accommodation for two pilots
and six passengers.
Two twin blade metal reversible
pitch pusher propellors were fixed either side of the gondola
powered by two 210 h.p. six cylinder horizontally opposed air
As part of it's tour of duty
the Europa was also based in a newly constructed hanger at Capena,
in Italy, some 18 miles from Rome.
By January 1975 the Europa
had flown some 4,000 hours and carried more than 20,000 passengers
since it's first flight. In November,1982, it was announced that
the European operation be discontinued to reduce costs in the
face of a hostile takeover bid of Goodyear. The Capena Airship
Facility was offered for sale.
The Europa continued to fly,
and was used for many private commissions, including being an
aerial T.V. platform for the weddings of HRH the Prince Charles
to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and also later, in 1986 for the
wedding of HRH Prince Andrew to Miss Sarah Ferguson. It was in
1986 when the ship was chartered by the BBC for wildlife filming
in the Carmague region of Southern France. During this time the
ship was caught by a down-draught in freak torrential rain, and
driven on to marshes and wrecked. The ship was eventually recovered
and the Europa control car and envelope deflated were returned
to the Akron Wingfoot lake facility and placed in to storage.
The original damaged envelope had been repaired at this site,
and stored as a spare.
Airships never die, but have
a tendency to be reused. The Europa control car was rebuilt over
a period of years and in 1998 it was returned in to service on
a new ship named "Stars and Stripes" Goodyear model
N1A. The Europa will always be seen as the return of lighter-than-air
craft to the U.K.
If you have any pictures of
the Europa and would like to add them to the photo gallery, then
please contact the webmaster on the CONTACT
first of the a new era of ship constructed at Cardington in