INDENTMajor George Herbert Scott C.B.E., A.F.C. (1888-1930), joined the Royal Naval Air Service at the outbreak of war and was commissioned Flight Sub Lieutenant in October 1914; flew in the airship 'ETA' and commanded the Parseval 'P4' 1915, and the airship station at Anglesey, 1916; Captain of the 'R9' and appointed 'Experimental Officer Airships' at Pulham 1917, receiving the rank of Major in the Royal Air Force 1918. His prowess as an airship pilot and commander earned him a Mentioned in Despatches and the award of the Air Force Cross in the New Year's Honours 1919.
'R34' and the First "Double Crossing"
Major Scott was the Air Ministry's first choice for Captain of His Majesty's Airship R34 when the plans for the first crossing of the Atlantic from East to West were first mooted. After trials in early 1919 it was further decided that the Airship would make the return flight, thus actioning a double "First". The preparations were very thorough and the voyage was an outstanding success. The double crossing involved a total distance of a little over 7,000 miles. Scott received a C.B.E. for his part in the achievement, an honour regarded as insufficient reward for such an accomplishment by all who were involved on both sides of the Atlantic. The British government however was sensitive that, war weary as the country was, expensive and risky military ventures were not popular, and the importance of the double-crossing was deliberately played down.
The development of Airships however continued apace. Scott returned to Pulham as Senior Flying Officer, a civil appointment under the Civil Aviation Department. Airships R100 and R101 were developed between 1924 and 1927, and Scott had responsibility for the construction of the R101, a task which took more than two years to compete. The massive airship emerged for the Hendon Airshow on 28 June 1930 - overall length 732 feet, diameter 132 feet, and capacity 5 million cubic feet.
The R101 Disaster
There was indecent haste to launch R101 on her much publicised voyage to India. The rival R100 had already crossed to Canada and back without mishap, and even though modifications were being made up to the last minute (including enlargement by the insertion of an extra middle bay) a "Permit to Fly" was given over the telephone and a 'Certificate of Airworthiness' issued on the same day, 2 October 1930. Two days later the airship lifted away from her mooring tower at Cardington, Major Scott at the helm. The rush to begin her maiden flight left the R101 with a fatal flaw in her construction - the fabric of her gasbags were liable to wear under the buffeting of the wind, resulting in tearing of the fabric and immediate loss of gas. The gas bags had been strengthened, and a rubber solution developed for running repairs, but sufficient tests had not been carried out. At 2 a.m. on 5 October, fourteen hours into her maiden flight, the R101 suddenly dived long and steep, pausing briefly a few hundred feet above the ground before plunging to earth and bursting into flames. All but six of the fifty-four passengers and crew on board, including Major Scott, were killed.