On this day in 1929, The Argus reported that my gg uncle Charles James Harman, then a Flight Lieutenant with the RAAF, working as a Liaison Officer in London, had the once in a lifetime opportunity to ride in an airship, the R101.
I was fairly happy when I found this article at Trove as Charles is one of my favourite and most interesting relatives and I have enjoyed discovering some of the adventures he had during WW1 and also post-war. Life for Charles in London was a long way removed from growing up in Byaduk and his stories far more romantic than those of his relatives back home… new ploughs, prizes at agriculture shows, the rain etc. I also couldn’t wait to tell my Nana about Charles’ airship experience. He was her uncle, but she said she never met him. She knew he had gone to war, but that was about all she knew, or as was her way, that was all she was going to tell me.
The R101 was still in testing when Charles Harman had his ride, with its construction completed only a month earlier. It was close to 237 metres long and was like a luxurious hotel in the air. But the R101 never made it to the trial flights in India. In fact, the airship was en route to India when it crashed over France on October 4, 1930.
Coincidentally, one of those killed was also an Air Liaison officer with the RAAF, working in the same office as Charles in London, Squadron Leader William Palstra.
Charles represented the Australian Air Board and the Controller of Civil Aviation at the funeral of the victims.
The following video is fantastic. It shows both stills and moving images of the R101 including the luxurious facilities inside.