There are loads of places around the UK which
are associated with Britain’s aerospace industry. Some of them might be near to where
you live! Let’s spin the propeller and see where we’re headed today!
It’s Bedford! Get ready for take-off! Bedford is a busy town just north of London…
And for many years, it was home to RAF Cardington, an air force base with a long and varied history
associated with airships and balloons. It all began over 100 years ago when the Short
Brothers used the site to build airships. After that RAF Cardington was used to build
barrage balloons – special balloons that were used to defend skies against aircraft
attack, as well as meteorological research balloons to help measure the weather.
Today Cardington is home to a type of aircraft that you might not see that often in the skies…
can you guess what sort? Airships! And it’s all thanks to an exciting
technology and engineering powerhouse called Hybrid Air Vehicles.
Today’s airships use the latest materials technology – carbon composites for strength
and to save weight, and Vectran to form the skin of the airship.
To help reduce weight, the airships have no internal structure to keep their shape. They
maintain shape from the pressure of the gases used inside the airship. These gases are lighter
than air which enables the airships to lift. Small engines are then used to control speed
and direction. They’re a lot less harmful to the environment
and quieter too. If you live near an airport, that’s something you might like!
These airships – or hybrid aircraft as they’re sometimes called – are named Airlanders. They
can stay in the air for up to 5 days at a time, making them cheaper for long flights.
As well as carrying cargo, you might think they look like a fun way to go on holiday.
Well, they certainly can carry passengers. In fact, 100 years ago airships were considered
the height of luxury travel. Maybe one day you’ll get the chance to travel
in one! Time for me to fly! Bye for now! AMY AVIATION’S BRITISH AERONAUTICS – WITH
SUPPORT FROM THE ROYAL AERONAUTICAL SOCIETY. FIND OUT MORE AT FUN KIDS LIVE / AMY