George MacDonald

R-100 airship

George and the flight of the R-100 airship

On August 1, 1930, the British airship R-100 arrived in Montreal on its maiden trans-Atlantic voyage from England. It was moored to a special tower at St. Hubert airport (above), and it's estimated a million people came out to see it. In those days, it was thought these huge, hydrogen-filled craft were the future of air travel. From Montreal, the R-100 made a 26-hour return flight over Ottawa and southern Ontario before going back to England. George, who was Quebec superintendent for the Canadian Press, was one of those aboard the Canadian voyage, covering the event for his news agency.

Shipboard autographs George on airship

Autographs (left) of some of the passengers and crew on the Canadian flight. George's signature is circled in red. Right, George leans over the railing of the promenade and lookout inside the airship to see the view below.

Craft had comfortable sleeping cabins for 100 passengers

The R-100 could accommodate 100 passengers in two-berth and four-berth cabins. It had a 56-seat dining room, and a large balcony promenade. It and it's sister ship, the R-101, were the largest airships in the world at the time. The R-101 was on its maiden overseas voyage from England to India in October, 1930, when it crashed and burned in France. Forty-eight people were killed, and the British airship project was abandoned. The R-100 was dismantled. And when the German airship Hindenburg crashed and burst into flames in New Jersey in 1937, the airship era ended.

Crowds of curious Control cabin

Underside of R-100 looms over crowds in Montreal; right, visitors to the control cabin gather around helmsman

INFORMATION ABOUT the R-100 is from "The R.100 in Canada," an excellent photo essay by the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa. All the pictures on this page come from a collection of R-100 photos found among some of George's old papers in the mid-1980's. They were originally taken by the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau (Still Photographic Division), of the federal Department of Trade and Commerce. One photo on this page, the interior of the control cabin, is the same as one in the aviation museum photo essay, for which the museum holds the copyright.

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Page created January 2000. Last updated August 11, 2008