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Portents of Doom: The R101 Disaster

As the R101 drifted soundlessly across the sky, it tilted and soon after it was clear the vessel was in real trouble.  With over five million cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen held together by a thick canvas shell, spectators stood in shocked horror as the massive 777 foot vessel vanished from sight into a sudden storm.  As Sir Sefton Brancker awoke from his troubled sleep he had the feeling the events in his dream would soon come true.  He wasn’t the only one.

When the R101 was created by top British aeronautical engineers, it was considered the finest achievement by human hands in the field of sky-faring.  The ship was stocked as well as the finest of ocean vessels.  On October 4th 1930, it would finally have its maiden voyage to India.  Some were concerned that the vessel had not been sufficiently tested, while others insisted these were merely the cries of frightened worrywarts.  Commonwealth politicians in particular along with the British government insisted that the R101 launch on-time as it would be coinciding with the transport conference the Commonwealth was holding.

Sir Sefton Brancker had consulted with his astrologer who had told him his life was unreadable after six years.  Though he tried to keep the feeling from interfering with his home life, his own son must have picked up on the event as he began to cry that morning as his father left for work saying, “I haven’t got a daddy.”  The next day his father died.

Other crewmembers were also allegedly effected by supernatural prognostications of doom.  Mrs. Irwin, as she was informed of her husband Lieutenant Carmichael “Bird” Irwin, was heard to say “It’s alright”¦ I know.”  Earlier at the precise time of the disaster the switchboard operator at the Cardington base had heard Irwin’s office phone line click as though someone were attempting to use it.  When the office was investigated, however, they found it locked and empty.

As the R101 surged through the storm, it dropped two and three hundred feet at a time as it was tossed around in the wind like a child’s plaything.  Normally vessels such as these were better equipped to deal with the forces of nature, but several reports indicate the vessel was launched too early to meet demands.  The resulting flaws in the system’s aviation resulted in the death of 48 people, including Sir Sefton Brancker and Flight Lieutenant Carmichael “Bird” Irwin.  The ship crashed into the treeline near Beauvais in Northern France and soon became engulfed in a conflagration with flames three hundred feet high.

Later, the medium Eileen Garrett would detail a conversation she had channeled through a spirit named Irwin.  As she channeled the spirit she spoke with a man’s voice and in the demeanor and inflection that many recognized as unmistakably belonging to Carmichael Irwin, the Flight Lieutenant onboard the R101.  She reported technical problems the airship possessed that would not be known publicly until years later.  The other voice she spoke with claimed to belong to the Director of Civil Aviation.  Could the spirits of the R101’s crew have been involved in an attempt to uncover a conspiracy from the other side?