From smoke filled bags to high-tech hybrids

Discover the history of military and civilian balloons and airships in Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum’s latest exhibition due to open at the end of this month.

Airships over Lincolnshire…Lighter than Air will open to the public on Saturday 30 September giving visitors the chance to explore the various types of airships, both military and commercial, and their contribution to the continuing story of this most serene mode of lighter than air transport.

The Royal Naval Air Service Central Training Establishment at Cranwell’s early operations included training in ballooning and airships at its Lighter than Air Section.  The exhibition includes detail of a selection of those airships.  The Central Training Establishment was originally home to naval aviators and subsequently personnel of the newly formed Royal Air Force, at which point the base was renamed RAF Cranwell.

“It is hard to imagine the conditions the early airship crews endured when flying an airship” says Heritage Assistant, Angela Riley. “Their control car would have been exposed to the elements, and the consequences of getting things wrong could be disastrous”

The exhibition will also include the history of one of the early airship pioneers, Lieutenant Colonel CM Waterlow and the horrific and fatal accident that befell him in the skies over Cranwell.

To bring the story right up to date, the exhibition will also feature ‘Airlander’, a hybrid airship which today is being developed by Hybrid Air Vehicles, taking to the skies over Bedfordshire.

This exhibition is open to the public from Saturday 30 September 2017 to Sunday 25 March 2018. Admission is free.

For more information about this exhibition please contact Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum on 01529 488490 or email For more information about Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum please visit