“There’s a certain excitement in this breakthrough but at the same time it’s not a happy history.” Historian John Swinfield is cautiously optimistic about a Bedfordshire firm making a success of modern-day airship engineering. He knows how volatile the industry has been, beset by heavy loss of life and UK firms left out of business.
But firm Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited’s success brings up to date a near century of history, with the new designs taking shape close to Cardington where, in 1918, two giant hangars housed the original flying machines.
Baed in nearby Cranfield, the firm has designed a 400ft (122m) long “lighter-than-air” hybrid vehicle for the US Army, in a contract worth half a billion pounds. Their success could result in hundreds of jobs being created.
After years of working on the technology behind it, the first of three planned vehicles was assembled and sailed in August in New Jersey, in the US, ironically the location where the infamous airship Hindenburg went down in 1937. Read more here Cranfield firm’s ‘breakthrough’ for English airships.