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Fatal Flight: The True Story of Britain's Last Great Airship
304 pages | 6 x 9 | 7 illustrations | Index & Notes
Publisher Articulate Noise Books | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hardcover | ISBN 978-1-945441-01-1 | forthcoming June 2017
eBook | ISBN 978-1-945441-02-8 | forthcoming June 2017
Audience 01 — General Trade
HIS015070 HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century
TEC002000 TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Aeronautics & Astronautics
TEC056000 TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / History
SCI034000 SCIENCE / History
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Description 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.
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.