Record Details

Catalog Search

His Majesty's airship : the life and tragic death of the world's largest flying machine  Cover Image Book Book

His Majesty's airship : the life and tragic death of the world's largest flying machine / S.C. Gwynne.


"The tragic story of the British airship R101--which went down in a spectacular hydrogen-fueled fireball in 1930, killing more people than died in the Hindenburg disaster seven years later--has been largely forgotten. In His Majesty's Airship, historian S.C. Gwynne resurrects it in vivid detail, telling the epic story of great ambition gone terribly wrong. Airships, those airborne leviathans that occupied center stage in the world in the first half of the twentieth century, were a symbol of the future. R101 was not just the largest aircraft ever to have flown and the product of the world's most advanced engineering--she was also the lynchpin of an imperial British scheme to link by air the far-flung areas of its empire from Australia to India, South Africa, Canada, Egypt, and Singapore. No one had ever conceived of anything like this. R101 captivated the world. There was just one problem: beyond the hype and technological wonders, these big, steel-framed, hydrogen-filled airships were a dangerously bad idea. Gwynne's chronicle features a cast of remarkable--and often tragically flawed--characters, including Lord Christopher Thomson, the man who dreamed up the Imperial Airship Scheme and then relentlessly pushed R101 to her destruction; Princess Marthe Bibesco, the celebrated writer and glamorous socialite with whom he had a long affair; and Herbert Scott, a national hero who had made the first double crossing of the Atlantic in any aircraft in 1919--eight years before Lindbergh's famous flight--but who devolved into drink and ruin. These historical figures--and the ship they built, flew, and crashed--come together in a grand tale that details the rocky road to commercial aviation written by one of the best popular historians writing today." -- Provided by publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9781982168278
  • ISBN: 1982168277
  • Physical Description: x, 299 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
  • Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc., 2023.

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references and index (pages 285-299).
Formatted Contents Note:
Dreams, pipe dreams, and imperial visions -- Brief history of a bad idea -- Night and storm -- Flying death trap -- "The feeling of utter loneliness" -- The idea that would not die -- India seems a very long way -- She floats free -- Trial by error -- France, and the midnight hour -- The perfectly safe experimental prototype -- The violent, unseen world -- Fools rush in -- A very violent end -- Solving the mystery: what caused the crash? -- Bloody end of a bloody era.
Subject: Thomson, Christopher Birdwood, Baron, 1875-1930.
R101 (Airship)
Airships > England > History > 20th century.
Aircraft accidents > England > History > 20th century.
Air travel > England > History > 20th century.
Genre: Informational works.

Available copies

  • 5 of 10 copies available at Missouri Evergreen. (Show)
  • 0 of 1 copy available at North Kansas City.


  • 0 current holds with 10 total copies.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
North Kansas City Public Library 363.124 GWYNNE 2023 (Text) 0001012512595 Nonfiction New In transit -

Additional Resources