The R100 Airship over Toronto
I was sorting through some old photos of mine and found this one of the R100 airship over Toronto. I believe it is above Avenue Road in front of the Royal Ontario Museum on the left and Ainsley Hall, Victoria University of U of T, on the right. It must have been taken August 13, 1930, when the airship did a little flying around eastem Canada after making it's one and only trip to Canada, where a tower had been built upon which to dock it. What an exciting scene this must have been, not only over Toronto but viewed over many small towns.
This photo led me to try to find out a little about this short period in aviation history. See the web site of the Airship Heritage Trust, http://www.aht.ndirect.co.uk/airships/r100/.
Airships failled to be developed as a military and commercial enterprise. The British R100 and R101 were luxury liners. After the R101 crashed in France, striking the steeple of a church,the program was abandoned. The Germans had more success. Their airships flew over the world for a short historic time for both commercial and military purpose. Even the US had an airship program but after two of their airships crashed interest wained. What probably finished airship travel was the crash and burn of the German zepplin, the Hindenburg, at Lakehurst, New Jersey, which was so dramatically recorded on radio. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/vohind.htm The US had refused to suppy Germany with helium so the Hindenburg used the more volitile hydrogen. http://www.pilotfriend.com/century-of-flight/Aviation%20history/coming%20of%20age/Hindenburg.htm
There is some limited use of airships still today as anyone who has seem the Goodyear blimp hovering over stadiums. Some militaries around the world have some modest use for them.
In this day and age of rising fuel costs, I wonder if their might be a niche for airships in travel and the commerical hauling of goods. I think of luxury travel over remote parts of the world. I also think of the moving of heavy good to remote sites. Could they have a place in Canada's arctic for transport, travel and military surveillance.
The R100 was almost sold to Canada. If it had been Canada might have developed an airship program where others failled. With improved fabrics, and structual materials and the use of helium some of the problem of the past could be solved. Perhaps, history will see the return of the great airships.