Marion Jordan, a member of the Society with her husband Barry, recently told us of the adventurous nature of the women in her family. After regaling us with the story of their trip on an airship in the nineties she found out that her mother was an intrepid aviatrix in the 1920s.

Marion reported: ‘In 1928 my late mother Marjorie Smith (née Todd), who was aged seventeen, took a joy ride in an Avro biplane from a field in Nacton Road, Ipswich. I understand this was before the airport was there. Her boyfriend (later her husband and my dad) would not go up as he didn't like heights. It cost around five shillings. She said it was very windy up there.’ She attached a copy of the certificate Marjorie was given after the trip.

Marion went on to describe the aerial adventure she and Barry had back in the nineties. They had unearthed images of the trip they took in a  Mazda ‘blimp’ as an acknowledgement of their continuing loyalty to a local car dealer. The  garage from which they purchased their cars regarded them as being worthy customers. As a reward for their custom they were selected to board the airship when it came to Ipswich on a leg of its trip round the country advertising the brand.

The journey which took forty-five minutes, found them soaring gently to about five hundred feet over Nacton Road, cruising  towards the town passing over Marion’s mother’s house in Clapgate Lane. Barry and Marian were able to continue filming and snapping away at the views before turning to fly over the town centre and the Cornhill. Although it’s not possible to see photographs of the whole trip, they flew over the north of the town towards Whitton over Whitehouse then turning towards the river following it down towards the Wet Dock. They flew over what was to become the Waterfront where it was possible to see the beginnings of the development there. Further down the river, Ostrich Creek was visible before sight of the glorious new Orwell Bridge came into sight. Finally, turning left they flew unhurriedly back to Ipswich Airport.

On their descent they were greeted by a gang of lads, the thirteen-strong support team employed to grab the guy-ropes and bring the craft to a halt. Marian and Barry celebrated their trip on the May afternoon with a glass of bubbly. The Jordans tell us it was a smooth, exciting and pleasant journey with no hairy moments, in a space about the size of the interior of a large car, it was very noisy so they had to wear headphones but the view was splendid. 

The ABC Lightship A60 N2022B Mazda was chartered for nine months in 1995, in which time it is toured numerous dealers being used to entertain clients and impress locals. It was considered ‘a superb means of outgunning our rivals’.

There were some drawbacks, however, most notably the weather. At one point, one airship was grounded for three weeks because of low cloud and there was also the matter of its stately pace. ‘When you move on to the next location it can take a long time to get there. You might spend two or three days flying over cows and sheep,’ reported a spokesman at the time.

Tony Marsden

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