This film is part of Free

Parachute Experiments, Pulham Airship Station

Soldiers of the Royal Naval Air Service make a leap of progress as new parachutes are put on trial

1917 14 mins Silent


A leap of progress in parachute design sees several types on test at Pulham airfield. Some remarkable drone-like photography, from a very brave camera operator, records some of the best airborne scenes of an airship taken during WWI. Thankfully, many of the parachutes are tested with weights rather than people - but at least two of the drops are live.

Of particular interest is the C.17 Coastal Class airship in the early part of the film. This design patrolled the convoys of the North Sea against U-boat threat and maintained a constant airborne presence from 1916 until the end of the war. Powered by two Sunbeam engines in tractor and pusher formation, the canvas-sided gondola - effectively two seaplane fuselages spliced together - was large enough for a crew of five people. Lasting just eight months, C.17 was unfortunately destroyed by fire on 21 April 1917, with no survivors.