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Site of the Labaundy Morning Post Airship Crash in 1911

Junction of Reading Road, Farnborough Road, Farnborough

Written by David Caldwell

Last Modified Thursday 3rd January 2019

The Lebaudy Morning Post Airship was at 370ft longer than a football pitch. She made a successful trip with her French crew from France to Farnborough. Unfortunately, while manoeuvring into a hanger she was damaged and spent many months being repaired.

On the evening of the 4th of May, a Thursday she was to undertake a trial flight to demonstrate her airworthiness. She had been purchased for the nation by a campaign organised by the Morning Post newspaper.

Seven climbed into the car suspended below the gas tanks of the airship. They were the French pilot and crew and two British passengers, Sir Alexander Bannerman 11th Baronet of Elsick and Commandant of the Air Battalion and Mr Bruce a committee member.

Thousands of spectators had gathered on the Common to witness the spectacle.

The airship took to the skies in a dead calm but after a short while, the breeze strengthened.

The crew struggled with the controls and the propellers could only manage half of their power.

The airship handled well and flew for about an hour. Two early aviation pioneers Colonel Cody and Mr de Havilland accompanied the airship in the skies above Farnborough with their aeroplanes.

Circling Farnborough Common the Labaundy made a planned descent. At 300 feet the French crew lowered the mooring ropes from the front and back of the airship.

A detail of Soldiers was in readiness on the ground to catch the ropes. With propellers, still turning the Labaundy sped past the Soldiers and none could catch the ropes to stop the airship.

The Labaundy raced towards the balloon factory and for a while, it looked like the ropes would catch the railings and buildings but were yanked loose by the momentum of the airship.

The assembled crowds fled in panic as the out of control airship flew low overhead. Tree branches ruptured the airship's gas tanks and the airship crashed in a collapsing heap over a detached house owned by Lady Mildred Follett on the other side of Farnborough Road.

The seven occupants managed to walk away from the mangled wreckage unhurt.

The site of the crash is now the Telephone Exchange.

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