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The R101 was a British Rigid Airship completed in 1929 as part of the Imperial Airship Scheme.

It left London on its first overseas voyage on 4 October 1930, bound for Karachi in India. Unbeknownst to nearly all aboard, its real mission was to rendezvous with the aliens, the Triskele.

The rendezvous was set for the skies above northern France in the early morning of 5 October. As the designated hour approached, the R101 was ordered by its commanders to be taken to 5000 feet, three times as high as it was designed to fly. There, it was intercepted by a Triskele flying saucer and taken aboard the craft.

After its encounter with the Triskele, the R101 returned to a safer altitude and resumed its voyage. Within moments, however, it was attacked by a Vortisaur and crashed into the fields of northern France. All aboard were killed.

Listed among the dead was a self-styled Edwardian adventuress: Charlotte Pollard, who had stowed aboard the R101 disguised as a crewmember named Simon Murchford and elected to travel with the Eighth Doctor in the TARDIS. Also among the dead was Lord Tamworth, who had actually stayed behind on the Triskele saucer. (AUDIO: Storm Warning) The R101's destruction was recorded as being part of the Web of Time in the Matrix. (AUDIO: Neverland)

In later years, Charley often thought about all the people whom she had seen die aboard the R101. (AUDIO: Letting Go) Her original death moved Edith Thompson to commit suicide, since Charley was the only person who talked to her. (AUDIO: The Chimes of Midnight)

During World War II in 1942, Winston Churchill mentioned the R101 in the presence of the Ninth Doctor. The Doctor asked not to be reminded. (AUDIO: I Was Churchill's Double)

In the far future, radio broadcasts concerning the launch of the R101 could be accessed via the Gogglebox inside the Moon. (AUDIO: The Reaping, The Gathering)

Behind the scenes[]

  • The R101 did exist and did crash into France on 5 October 1930. However, there were eight survivors of the real crash, though two of them later died from their wounds.
  • On the website whoisdoctorwho.co.uk, an individual identifying as "El Pinguino" mentioned that "research [had] turned up records of a man with this name showing up on the R101 airship in 1930. There are no descriptions, but it sounds like the same man".[1]