The British Government, in 1924, had an ambitious programme for air travel to the most distant parts of its Empire, including Canada, India and Australia. R 101 was one of the two airships as part of that plan. When built in 1929, it was the world’s largest aircraft. Its construction at Cardigan, England for the Air Ministry completed in the first week of October 1929 when it opened for public inspection. Preparations were made years in advance to accommodate the giant airship. Three large hangars were constructed in the world to house it and one of those was in Karachi which became known as Kala Chapra to the locals. Likewise, four mooring masts were built including one at Karachi. The meteorological forecasting network was also extended and updated for those hubs. The airship commenced its maiden voyage from Cardington, England to Karachi, India on the evening of 4th October 1930. It met some technical faults on the craft and adverse weather conditions. Having crossed the channel, in the early hours of 5th October 1930, it caught fire and crashed near Beauvais, France. Forty-six of the 54 passengers and crew were killed immediately and a couple succumbed later in hospital. In October 1925, the Air Ministry issued orders and contract to build a hangar in Karachi. The construction of Kala Chapra commenced on 8th 1926 which took two years to complete. Several hundred people watched an interesting ceremony at Karachi, when the first piece of steel structural work for the new airship hangar was hoisted into position and bolted to the solid concrete bed. The wife of the agent for the Armstrong Construction Company, after screwing the silver-plated nut, smashed a bottle of champagne, declaring the new structure laid. This great airship shed was constructed by Sir W G Armstrong’s construction company, Whitworth and Co. As there were no major iron or steel works in India at the time, the materials and components were fabricated at the Geriston Steel Works, Glasgow. About 4,000 tonnes of steel used in the construction and one of the conditions of the assembly and design, was that the shed could be dismantled and moved to another location. It measured 850 ft in length, 170 ft in height, and 180 ft in width; it was one of the three largest hangars in the world. The entire complex, including the Mooring Mast and Hydrogen plant, costed £93000. The Mooring Mast completed in August 1929. It had an automatic lift to convey passengers from the top of the tower to its base. Lieutenant-Commander H W Watt, was the In-Charge of Karachi Airport. He was appointed to The Royal Airship Works, Cardington, in 1929 for training to take charge of Karachi Airport, Aeroplanes and Airships. He proceeded in August 1929 to take up that appointment as the Chief Aerodrome Officer and also to make all of the local arrangements for the forthcoming India flight of R 101. He was also in charge of the civilian aeroplane base at Karachi, administered by the Government of India. The Kala Chapra never had the sight of the airship it was made for. Eighteen men were employed up until 1939, to maintain the shed and the mast. It was allowed for the shed to be used by local soldiers as a sports arena, out of the sun. The shed became involved in aeronautical activities finally in the late 1930’s when Imperial Airways took over responsibility of the building as an aeroplane hangar and workshops. It was during the Second World War that the shed was used by both the RAF and the US Army. In 1952, Pakistan Aviation issued a tender to dismantle the shed, and it was not until 1961 that it was finally agreed to proceed with that. It was sold as a scrap and material obtained from it was later used by Pakistan Railways. ((In the first photograph: Some of the crew and designers of the R101, all of whom lost their lives in the disaster, can be seen in the following picture. L to R: Flying-Officer M H Steff, Lieut.-Commander N G Atherstone, Flight-Lieut. H T Irwin, Lieut.-Colonel V C Richmond, Major G H Scott, and Lieut.-Commander H W Watt (commander of the Karachi Airport). – Courtesy the Sunday Times, Perth).