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Students develop phone app based on record breaking Norfolk airship

PUBLISHED: 16:49 05 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:55 05 September 2018

University of Suffolk students Tom Gibbs, Henry Crofts and Elliot Chester who are developing a phone app based on the R34 airship. Picture: Diss Museum

University of Suffolk students Tom Gibbs, Henry Crofts and Elliot Chester who are developing a phone app based on the R34 airship. Picture: Diss Museum

Archant

It was cutting edge in its day, now the exploits of a Norfolk airship that made history is to be told with some modern day hi-tech technology.

Three students from the University of Suffolk are busy at work on a smart phone app that will bring to life the story of the historic two-way mission to America by the R34 airship.

Norfolk is next year set to be the centre of celebrations of what will be 100 years since one of the great feats of aviation, the first double airborne crossing of the Atlantic.

The South Norfolk village of Pulham St Mary achieved international fame when the massive 634ft aircraft landed at Pulham Air Station following its epic journey of some 3,130 miles.

The airship had taken off from East Fortune in Scotland in July 1919, with a crew of 30, plus one stowaway, who was discovered mid-Atlantic, and crossed to Mineola, Long Island, before coming back to land at Pulham on July 13, 1919.

The R34 is man-handled into one of Pulham's giant airship sheds on July 13, 1919. Picture: Archant LibraryThe R34 is man-handled into one of Pulham's giant airship sheds on July 13, 1919. Picture: Archant Library

Landmark commemorations are being planned by Diss Museum, alongside events all over the world to celebrate the intrepid flight.

One of the most intriguing involves Tom Gibbs, Henry Crofts and Elliot Chester, third year computer games programming students at the University of Suffolk, who are developing an educational interactive experience for children.

Tom Gibbs said: “We’ve been working to create an application allowing visitors to experience selected events from the voyage in augmented reality.”

Users will be able to use the camera on their phone to access custom-made designs and explore the story of the airship’s voyage. A video giving an idea of what it will look like can be seen above but they stress it shows “a very early prototype”.

Engineering officer John Shotter, left, with Brig Gen Edward Maitland aboard R34. Picture: Archant LibraryEngineering officer John Shotter, left, with Brig Gen Edward Maitland aboard R34. Picture: Archant Library

The trio recently visited Diss Museum as part of their research and got into the spirit by putting on naval caps like the crew of the R34.

“The application is being developed for smart phones and will be released on app stores as a free download for visitors of the museum, closer to the time of the event,” said Mr Gibbs.

Other centenary events planned in Norfolk next July are the performance of a work called All Aboard the R34 by local composer Peter Creswell, who lives in Redgrave, near Diss.

More about the R34 centenary at airships.me.uk

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