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 Kill with two airships making a
integral part of the film
In 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
Novelist John Gardener in "Role of Honor" .
At the time Airship Industries
were producing a fleet of ships which were recognizable 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.
In the film the first introduction
to lighter than air travel is when the, Villain 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
Francisco 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.
series of shots of the model Skyship 6000 from the film
A View to a Kill (1985)
This was an initial taster for choice
of travel made by the villain the later inclusion of an airship
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.
The 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 stages.
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.
A 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
of the scenes showing how some of the live action was filmed
using full sized mock ups, smaller flying models, plus the
The demise of the ship is,
like almost every airship in movie history, by an 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 but also 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.
The Skyship 500 airship was
a major feature in the film with the movie poster depicting it's