The main types of airship are non-rigid (or blimps), semi-rigid and rigid. They are lighter than air aircraft or aerostats that can be propelled and steered through air using rudders, propellers and similar tools. This is the story of the rigid airship, which includes fascinating and rarely seen early archive footage, picking up a couple of centuries after the launch of the first hot air balloons, including Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, showing his early work from the beginning of the twentieth century in Germany, including the infamous disaster as the airship Hindenburg caught fire when coming into land on 6 May 1937 after an Atlantic crossing, killing 36 out of the 97 people abroad, effectively terminating intercontinental passenger airship travel. Even before passenger travels, the airship was, unsurprisingly, deployed in a military capacity, both as observation platforms and for dropping bombs during the First World War – and it was at the conclusion of that war that further development of the airship really took off, not only in Graf Zeppelin’s Germany but notably in England and the USA. This programme has packed an amazing amount of historical and technical information into its 50 minute running time, which is both entertaining and informative.
30 April 2012