Listen free for 30 days

Fatal Flight

The True Story of Britain's Last Great Airship
Narrated by: Bill Hammack
Length: 4 hrs and 36 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Fatal Flight brings vividly to life the year of operation of R.101, the last great British airship - a luxury liner three and a half times the length of a 747 jet, with a spacious lounge, a dining room that seated 50, glass-walled promenade decks, and a smoking room. The British expected R.101 to spearhead a fleet of imperial airships that would dominate the skies as British naval ships, a century earlier, had ruled the seas. The dream ended when, on its demonstration flight to India, R.101 crashed in France, tragically killing nearly all aboard. Combining meticulous research with superb storytelling, Fatal Flight guides us from the moment the great airship emerged from its giant shed - nearly the largest building in the British Empire - to soar on its first flight, to its last fateful voyage. The full story behind R.101 shows that, although it was a failure, it was nevertheless a supremely imaginative human creation. The technical achievement of creating R.101 reveals the beauty, majesty, and, of course, the sorrow of the human experience.

The narrative follows First Officer Noel Atherstone and his crew from the ship's first test flight in 1929 to its fiery crash on October 5, 1930. It reveals in graphic detail the heroic actions of Atherstone as he battled tremendous obstacles. He fought political pressures to hurry the ship into the air, fended off Britain's most feted airship pilot, who used his influence to take command of the ship and nearly crashed it, and, a scant two months before departing for India, guided the rebuilding of the ship to correct its faulty design. Set against the backdrop of the British Empire at the height of its power in the early 20th century, Fatal Flight portrays an extraordinary age in technology, fueled by humankind's obsession with flight.

©2017 William S. Hammack (P)2017 William S. Hammack

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    11
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    10
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    11
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Keith
  • Kirby Cross, United Kingdom
  • 13-05-19

Badly let down by poor narration

I only managed about twenty minutes of this. The story may be interesting but the narrator is so quick that I don't think he paused for breath more than a couple of times.
He doesn't seem to know the meaning of commas or full stops and just reads continually. It was so bad that I'm about to return this for a refund.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb book

What a great book. This is a little known story in Britain, it should be more widely known: this book is a great place to start. Covering the history of British airships, the story of R101 from start to finish and the stories of the designers, builders, engineers, crew and passengers, this interesting and almost unbelievable tale makes you wonder what could have been? All eyes on Airlander 10...

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book. Detailed and vivid. Will listen again!

Fascinating story, with good narration, even if some pronunciations are weird (American reader). Brings the story to life in a mattrr of fact way thats easy to follow. Will be listening again.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Aner
  • Aner
  • 22-08-17

Probably better in a visual media

My opinion - don't get it audio form.
The book, I felt, was meandering. It jumps from the main story to anecdotes and side stories far to often.
This was compounded by the fact that pacing of the read was way to fast! It felt breathless, just an onslaught of information.
But worst of all was the imperial measurments. I expected more from Bill Hammack. Maybe, if this book was more story/drama oriented book, but this is loaded with technical data. I know this is a general audiance book, and I know it was written in America, and I know 1930s Britain used well... imperial measurments, but it felt wrong and anachronistic to not include metric.

So get this book in hard form, make your self a nice cup of tea, and read it as it should.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Myron D. Griffin
  • Myron D. Griffin
  • 05-12-19

A great story

a great story about something not well covered in our al of our history books

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for TG
  • TG
  • 02-09-17

A great story of the people more than the airship

I really appreciate the time spent developing the characters behind the story. thus was much more interesting than talking about just the ship itself. and oh, what characters!

I would have liked to hear a little more about the fatal flight itself - it seemed to come rather quickly in the book.

The ending explains a few things, and contains one very ironic item I did not know.