Beds, Herts & Bucks

R101 airship disaster story to be made into film

Wreckage of the R101 Image copyright Keystone/Getty
Image caption Two French firemen holding a tattered Royal Air Force flag in front of the wreckage of the R101 airship

A film is set to be made about the story of a giant airship that crashed on its first long distance flight.

The R101, which was built at Cardington, Bedfordshire, crashed on 5 October 1930 near Beauvais, France.

At the time the R101 was the largest airship ever built.

Talking Trees Films said it had bought the film rights to James Leasor's 1957 book, The Millionth Chance: The Story of the R101, so the story was not "forgotten".

The craft set off from Cardington on 4 October en route to Karachi but crashed just a few hours later, killing 48 of the 55 passengers and crew.

Among the dead was aviation minister Lord Thomson of Cardington, who had pushed for the government to promote airship building.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The R101 moored to a control tower at Cardington in October 1929

The film company said the book had revealed the full facts that led up to the disaster and was written with "first-hand accounts of the many of the people who had been involved".

Tori Rudling and Loe Fahie, from Talking Trees Films, said: "We are thrilled to bring this epic moment in history back to life on screen, so that it's not forgotten."

Trevor Monk, an avid supporter of Cardington's airship-building history, said: "I have been wanting a movie on this story ever since I was a kid, and that is a very long time.

"It's a story that has never been told on the big or small screen. It's an event that brought the country to a stop in mutual grief.

"To me the crew of the R101 are heroes, the heroes of Cardington and their story needs to be told."

Stuart Leasor, the book's publisher, said: "[The story] is one with a terrible place in the history of the aviation industry. It has all the makings of a fascinating film."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The R101 unveiled at Hangar 1 at Cardington
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wreckage from the R101 crash site in Beauvais, France

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