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US Amazon, Barnes & Noble | UK Amazon, Blackwell's | Canada Amazon, Indigo | International Links Amazon


US Amazon, Barnes & Noble | UK Amazon, Blackwell's | Canada Amazon | International Links Amazon


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Buy on Audible | iTunes

Listen for free on this website or on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher

Buy on Audible | iTunes

Listen for free on this website or on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher

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Advance Reviews

"A fascinating story, not nearly well enough known on the American side of the Atlantic, artfully and engagingly told." G.J. Meyer New York Times bestselling author of A World Undone: The Story of the Great War 1914 to 1918 & The World Remade: America in World War I

"Why does brilliant vehicle design sometimes end in tragedy? The crash of the intended flagship of the British Empire, the magnificent dirigible R.101, is not only an absorbing human and technical story as told by Bill Hammack. It is also a vital lesson in the risks of even apparently small compromises and unforeseen hazards to big projects when confronted by the forces of nature. Impressively documented, Fatal Flight should be required reading for engineers and political leaders alike." Edward Tenner Author of international bestseller Why Things Bite Back & Our Own Devices

"A well-researched and gripping look at Britain's greatest airship disaster from a new perspective: through the eyes of a man who built, flew, and died with the ship." Dan Grossman, Airship Historian author of airships.net and coauthor of Zeppelin Hindenburg: An Illustrated History of LZ-129

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About the author

Bill Hammack hosts the engineerguyvideo YouTube channel, which has nearly a half million subscribers and twenty-five million views. Make magazine said of Bill’s video work that he was a “brilliant science-and-technology documentarian,” whose “videos should be held up as models of how to present complex technical information visually.” Wired called them “dazzling.” He teaches engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he focuses on educating the public about engineering and science. Bill’s work has been recognized by The National Association of Science Writers with their Science in Society Award, the American Chemical Society’s Grady-Stack Medal, and the American Institute of Physics’ Science Writing Award.

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Book Details (metadata)

Fatal Flight Front Cover

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Audio Cover



The audio version of Fatal Flight is available to purchase on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Or, you can listen to it for free here, on YouTube, iTunes, or Stitcher.

The book's figures and appendices can be viewed and read below; the appendices are not included in the audio version.

This audiobook is released under a Creative Commons ShareAlike Non-Commerical License, which allows you to freely share and adapt it for non-commerical uses.

You can listen to the complete book below, or listen chapter by chapter. You can download each of these files as an mp3; you can also download the complete book in ogg format or as a zip file of the individual chapters (other ways to download).

Complete Book


Individual Chapters

Opening Credits

Prologue: The Perennial Promise of Airships

Chapter 1: The Debut of the Great British Airship

Chapter 2: Airborne at Last

Chapter 3: An Inept Commander Takes Charge

Chapter 4: Inside the Great Airship

Chapter 5: Problems with the Cloth Cover

Chapter 6: The Airship Flies Again

Chapter 7: Radical Surgery

Chapter 8: Depature for India

Chapter 9: To Ride the Storm

Chapter 10: The Causes of R.101's Crash

Epilogue: Stories of the Survivors and the Fate of British Airships

Closing Credits


Other Ways to Download

complete book in ogg format

zip file of individual chapters in mp3 format

zip file of individual chapters in ogg format


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


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version: 2018-01-03