Sunday, October 05, 2008

Today In History: Great Ball of Fire.

On this date in 1930, the British commercial airship R101 augered into a ridge line in France and burst into the kind of fireball that can only be created by a few jillion cubic feet of hydrogen and thousands of liters of diesel fuel.

Intensive investigation into the causes of the accident revealed that the main culprit was that a balloon full of hydrogen and diesel fuel had been launched into the air, and what followed was pretty much the inevitable result.

8 comments:

Ambulance Driver said...

"Intensive investigation into the causes of the accident revealed that the main culprit was that a balloon full of hydrogen and diesel fuel had been launched into the air, and what followed was pretty much the inevitable result."

Can't... breathe... laughing... too... hard...

Don Meaker said...

Oddly, there were two competing products, one built by the private enterprise, the R101 built by a government entity. The Government was responsible for certifying safety for both.

After the R101 crash, the Government entity forbade the private enterprise product to fly, thus proving once again that it is a rotten business model to try to compete with your government customers.

Matt G said...

37 years later, we learned a similar lesson about the wisdom of putting three guys into a tiny room on a tower, pumping in pure oxygen, and having them flip a lot of electrical switches while blocking the fire exits.

Nick Carter said...

This is my compulsory Nevil Shute post. Shute (actually Nevil Shute Norway) worked on the private sector version of the airship and documents the monumental stupidity of the government effort in his autobiography "Slide Rule".

It goes without saying that one should read every book Shute wrote.
Except "On the Beach", just because it's the most depressing book ever written.
Nick

Anonymous said...

The project's Head Scientist was Barnes, of Dam Buster fame. A few of his ideas worked.

the pawnbroker said...

"Intensive investigation into the causes of the accident revealed that the main culprit was that a balloon full of hydrogen and diesel fuel had been launched into the air, and what followed was pretty much the inevitable result"

they could have used your succinct investigative analysis over at the hindenburn commission, where they have more theories than the kennedy assassination of the 60-second flashfire that came nearly seven years after r101's pyro display...

jtc

the pawnbroker said...

sorry...meant to leave the wiki link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_disaster#The_hydrogen_theory

Anonymous said...

+1 for Nick's comment.
emdfl