This film is part of Free

Airship No. 9

The maiden flight of Britain's first successful rigid airship – just don’t call it a zeppelin…

Non-Fiction 1916 14 mins


This film captures the historic first flight of His Majesty’s Airship No. 9, the first British rigid airship to be flown successfully. HMA No.1, "The Mayfly", had been built in 1911 but broke up in high winds before it could be flown. Housed in a purpose-built shed on Walney Island off the coast of Cumbria, this big flying pencil had been planned since 1913 but wasn't launched until the end of November 1916.

After being flown to Yorkshire and then later Norfolk, HMA No. 9 was mainly used for testing, and was scrapped at the end of 1918 to make room for newer designs. In a striking example of innovative recycling, surviving photos show that the ship’s nose cone was later used as a marquee for an air base sports day - waste not, want not!