often does a modern airship have such a lead role in a film.
This page describes the role of the Skyship 500 in the James
Bond Film "A View to a Kil with two airships making a intergral
part of the filml
1984 Airship Industries managed a major marketing coup with the
inclusion of their Skyship 500 series airship in the James Bond
Film, "A View to a Kill". The original story coming
from a short story by Ian Flemming was adapted and also took on
the use of Airships by the later Bond Novellist John Gardener
in "Role of Honour" . At the time Airship Industries
were producing a fleet of ships which were recognisable over many
capitals of the world offering tours, or advertising sponsorship
deals. As all Bond films have included the most current technology,
this included the lighter than air interest.
the film the first introduction to lighter than air travel is
when the, Villan Max Zorin, made an appearance in airship used
as a "mobile" HQ and conference suite, in a planned
but currently nonexistent Skyship 6000. A mock up model had been
made showing a larger Skyship 500 with a double decked gondola
and four ducted propulsion units.This was shown floating over
San Fransico Bay, and cleverly disposing of a conference passenger.
The ship was similar to the designs at the time of a larger skyship
5000 and the envelope and shape of the gondola can be seen as
almost direct copies of the designs. The ship was mocked up in
green Zorin Industries livery.See
the Skyship 5000 project
This was an initial taster for choice of travel made by the villan
the later inclusion of anairship in the the climax of the film
on the Golden Gate Bridge.
For the finale, the ship in question was in fact a very real Skyship
500 registration G-B1HN which at the time was operating a promotional
tour of Los Angels and had played a major part of the opening
ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games. For that the ship has WELCOME
painted across the side of the hull. During the 1984 season, the
ship was in predominantly green and red livery of Fuji Film sponsorship.
As the film was set around California, the Bond Production Team
were also able to utilize the ship and shots of the ship over
San Francisco and famous land marks.
ship was adapted with a similar livery, bearing the factitious
Company of "Zorin Industries" and various smaller scale
yet perfectly working models of the ship were used at various
In the film, the ship is used as an escape vehicle for Max Zorin
and his assistants. The escape airship was hidden inside a portable
contractors office (portacabin) where the top extension collapsed
down. This allowed
escapees to enter the office door, and dramatically press a few
buttons, and the roof of the building would collapse open, allowing
the envelope to inflate through the top.
In real life, however this is not possible as an inflation can
take up to 24 hours, however with the benefit of Pinewood magic,
this inflation takes approximalty 2 minutes. It does, however
provide a striking effect showing the fin structure and also an
excellent vectoring of the engines as the "ship" provides
a VTOL takeoff out of the cabin.
very good action sequence takes place with the ship used as a
kidnap vehicle where our hero James Bond dramatically grabs the
bow mooring lines, and is carried off over the San Francisco skyline,
narrowly missing some of the buildings. The
final sequence takes place on the Golden Gate Bridge where James
Bond manages to curtail the villains get away by tying the mooring
lines to the superstructure. During this time a very convincing
Skyship 500 show a ship in almost in view during the whole sequence.
However this is of course a very impressive mock up.
demise of the ship is, like almost every airship in movie history,
by the explosion. The clumsy use of dynamite which was dropped
as the ship is cut free from it's moorings. The ending had to
be dramatic and be careful not to totally discredit the fledgling
industry who was always trying to move away from this historical
stigma. The special effects are impressive and is true to a modern
airship design with the gondola and not the envelope of gas exploding.
This of course showing that the inert helium being safe as the
envelope is seen
deflating and slowly sinking to the sea below.
Skyship 500 airship was a major feature in th0e film with the
movie poster depicting it's modern role.