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On this day 7 May 1909

Published: 07 May 2013

On this day 7 May 1909 Admiralty signs tender for its first aircraft

In 1908 the Committee of Imperial Defence set up a sub-committee to examine 'Aerial Navigation'. It looked at captive balloons, kites, rigid and non-rigid dirigibles and aeroplanes. One of the members of the sub-committee was Captain RHS Bacon, Director of Ordnance and Torpedoes in the Admiralty. On 21 July 1908 Captain Bacon submitted to the 1st Sea Lord Admiral Sir John Fisher a proposal that Vickers should design and construct a large rigid airship along the lines of the successful German Zeppelins. Vickers tender was accepted on 7 May 1909 and the Royal Navy began its long development of aviation. £35,000 was included in naval estimates for 1909/10 for the 66ft airship from Vickers at Barrow. The airship was named His Majesty's Airship 1 (HMA-1), Mayfly.

From Flight magazine 27 May 1911

At last our leviathan of the air has emerged from the interior of its hiding place into the full light of day. With the issues of Monday's (22 May 1911)evening papers the launch was announced, and with the Tuesday morning papers the British public realised all in a moment its full possession of the object of its desires—an immense dirigible. And it is an immense dirigible, too, indeed the largest in existence.

Airship Heritage Trust Website


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