Skegness Lifeboat rescues Richard Branson Airship

The news article tells us that the Skegness lifeboat rescued an airship owned by Richard Branson, which had crashed into the Wash.

A photo of the bedraggled airship was published along with the story.

Skegness lifeboatmen worked into the early hours of Monday to rescue an airship owned by tycoon Richard Branson which came down in the Wash with its pilot.
The drama began shortly before 4.30am on Sunday when Boston police were alerted by a 999 call that an airship was having problems landing in the Gedney Dawsmere area.
The craft, owned by Virgin Lightships, of Telford Shropshire, had been on a promotional flight for the Mazda car company when it developed control problems.
In addition to the pilot, Capt David Hollyhomes , of Ashford, Kent, there were three passengers connected with Mazda.
The airship was followed by a ground crew in two vehicles who attempted to follow its progress by road.
The pilot eventually managed to land the craft at Gedney Marsh and his three businessmen passengers were able to alight.
However, they were unable to secure the airship so Capt Hollyholmes took off again.
He then landed almost immediately on the marshes just north of Gedney Drove End.
He was just about to deflate the craft when the tide turned against him and it was blown out into the Wash.
Yarmouth Coastguard was informed and two search and rescue helicopters were scrambled, together with the Skegness lifeboat Lincolnshire Poacher.
The Port Sutton pilot boat arrived at the scene minutes before the Skegness lifeboat and rescued Capt Hollyholmes who, by that time, although still aboard the deflated airship, was up to his waist in water. He was taken to Sutton Bridge where he rejoined his ground crew.
Skegness lifeboat then towed the 132ft airship 15 miles before dragging it onto the beach at Skegness.
The craft is the only one of its kind in the UK – although Virgin Lightships have two based in the United States.
About 20 lifeboatmen were involved in the operation and progress during the rescue was slow because the weight of water in the canopy made it difficult to tow, explained coxswain Paul Martin.
The bedraggled craft was loaded onto a lorry by its ground crew in the early hours of the morning.

Picture: Skegness lifeboatmen Richard Foye and John Irving with the ditched airship which they towed into safe harbour.


January 1995


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