Zeppelin reborn

The Telegraph heralds the future fleet of mighty airships:

Hybrid Air Vehicles has built a scale prototype of what will soon be the largest flying vessel in the world – a huge balloon made of ultra-lightweight, super-strong polyester on top of a hovercraft landing system. If it works, it could change the future of flight.

For the past 13 years, [Gordon] Taylor has been fighting a battle with investors, governments and the general public over the perception of the airship. ‘I’ve never seen a more peculiar industry than ours,’ he says as he leads me through the makeshift office on a bright mid-June morning. ‘There are more nutcases…’ He sighs and sips at his mug of Lady Grey. ‘You get what we call “the giggle factor”. People laugh at lighter-than-air vehicles and the guys who make them: the “helium heads”. It’s taken a long time to overcome that.’

The unofficial motto of the modern airship industry could be, ‘Don’t mention the Hindenburg!’ When talk turns to the crash, Mike Durham dares me to think counter-intuitively: ‘If you don’t write about it, you will set yourself apart as the only journalist to have done that,’ he says.
Gordon Taylor takes another tack, trying to put things in perspective. ‘Just remember that the Hindenburg happened at around the time of the Titanic. But they didn’t have a camera on the Titanic, did they? Think about that when you look around the QE2,’ he says. The Titanic comparison is much loved, and every person I speak to at Cardington makes it.