In 1909 Airships seemed to have much more to offer than fragile aircraft. The Admiralty took the bold step of ordering an experimental airship from the armament firm of Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness.
That first airship, His Majesty's Rigid Airship Number 1, unofficially known as the “Mayfly”, was the most ambitious air project of her day and taught both the Navy and her designers a lot about aircraft construction and the science known today as project management.
‘Mayfly’ suffered a structural failure while under test in 1911, which delayed progress by a year and prevented her from flying again. In the war that followed, the Royal Navy built many airships to a number of different designs and became the largest operator of airships the world had yet seen.