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Hundreds attended the funeral of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson who also created science-fiction series Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and Stingray in Reading, UK, on Friday.

Gerry Anderson has been remembered as a “visionary of the future” by family and friends.

Gerry Anderson, from Henley-on-Thames, died last month, aged 83.

Fans travelled from across the country, as well as from overseas to be at the funeral which featured tributes from former Thunderbirds cast and crew.

The service at Reading Crematorium was followed by a reception in Henley-on-Thames.

There was standing room only inside the chapel with the service relayed on speakers to more than 100 people outside.

They included mother and son Robert and Maria Zyderveld, who travelled from the Netherlands.

Robert Zyderveld said: “I’ve been a fan of Gerry Anderson’s TV shows for about 18 years.

“I always said that if I had the chance to be at his funeral, I would travel there no matter how far.

“It was a truly beautiful service and a great tribute to the man.”

Hundreds attended the funeral of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson in Reading, UK, on Friday

Hundreds attended the funeral of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson in Reading, UK, on Friday

A full-size replica of FAB1 – Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce – was also on show outside the chapel.

Owner Melvin Jarvis drove from Leicestershire the night before to be at the service.

He said: “It still turns heads even after having owned it for a few years.

“I have to try and drive it away from motorways usually to avoid too many people driving alongside trying to take pictures of it while they’re driving.”

A replica of Thunderbird 2 featured among the floral tributes on top of Gerry Anderson’s coffin.

Son Jamie Anderson was among the coffin bearers and read a eulogy during the service.

He said: “I have never been more proud of my father than the day he faced up to his battle with Alzheimer’s.

“He battled it head-on and came out very publicly speaking about how it had affected his life.”

Gerry Anderson was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010 – a condition which worsened in the months before his death.

He became a supporter of the Alzheimer’s Society and helped raise the charity’s profile at fundraising events across the country.

During the funeral, arrangements of the Thunderbirds theme tune and Aqua Marina from Stingray were played.

Thunderbirds first aired on TV screens in 1965 with the action filmed in a studio on the Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire.

Shane Rimmer, the voice of Thunderbird pilot Scott Tracy, said: “It was a truly unique experience.

“Gerry’s office was like the Oval Office at The White House at times, such was the mystique of the place.

“Thunderbirds really broke a mould as it was one of the first TV shows that had appeal on both sides of the Atlantic.”

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Aeroscraft, a radical new kind of airship funded by the US military, is about to make its first test flight – and it looks uncannily like the Thunderbird 2 craft from the classic TV show.

The Aeroscraft airship will carry three times as much as the biggest military cargo planes over thousands of miles, use a third of the fuel, and it doesn’t even need a landing strip.

It could also have major implications for cargo haulage, and almost everything now laboriously transported across the planet’s surface by boat, train and lorry could within years be carried through the skies, its makers claim.

California-based aviation firm Aeros, with heavy backing from the U.S. military, has been developing their revolutionary Aeroscraft for several years, and they say the airship is now in its final stages.

They have built a prototype which they hope will finally prove the concept works in practice and allow them to fine tune their systems.

At 250ft (77 m) in length, it is just half the size of the final model, but has been built with the same rigid structure, flight control systems and landing gear.

Now all that needs to be done is for it to demonstrate the vertical take-off and landing that will make possible the point-to-point delivery features that will make it perfect for the commercial market.

The finished version of the Aeroscraft – expected to be ready in three years – will carry a payload of 66 tons at a speed of 120 knots, upto 18,000ft with a range of 3000 nautical miles.

That could revolutionize air transport, opening up remote areas where there is practically no other means of access.

It could carry relief supplies for victims in disaster areas, heavy oil-extraction equipment to northern Canada’s tar sands, huge turbines to remote wind farms and, of course, heavy military equipment to battlefields worldwide.

The key breakthrough has been the development of an internal system for managing ballast.

Aeroscraft, a radical new kind of airship funded by the US military, is about to make its first test flight

Aeroscraft, a radical new kind of airship funded by the US military, is about to make its first test flight

Previous airships have been held back by the need to weigh them down or tie them up while cargo is unloaded, lest they are suddenly carried away on the breeze.

But the Aeroscraft’s internal ballast management system gives its operators the ability to control the aircraft’s buoyancy by compressing the helium inside its tanks to make it heavier than air and bring down to the ground.

Once cargo has been loaded, the airship can rise by re-releasing the compressed helium into its containment tanks, making it again lighter than air, then using turbo-prop engines to control its direction.

Because of this revolutionary system, Aeroscraft needs no airfield to operate, only a cleared area large enough for it to vertically take off and land, and enough labor on hand to unload the cargo.

Aeros’s founder and CEO Igor Pasternak, 48, told Gizmag: “The advantage is you don’t need ground infrastructure. You can fly anywhere, you can land anywhere, you don’t need any ballast, you don’t need any ground crew.”

The airship has long been known as a “dream machine” for visionary inventors.

Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin built the first airship in 1900 as a weapon for Germany. The “Graf Zeppelin” was developed by Dr. Hugo Eckener, who flew it around the world in 21 days in 1929.

This powerful symbol of German might was adopted by the Nazis, who funded the creation of the largest airship yet, the Hindenburg.

However, on May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg burst into flames on a trip to the US, having been filled with patriotic German hydrogen instead of American helium.

But Ukrainian-born Igor Pasternak says that his design for a rigid airship is miles apart from the disastrous versions of the early 20th Century.

He told Gizmag: “From the structure stand point, all of us are familiar with the Hindenburg and Zeppelin designs.

“This is different. We built a space frame that sits inside of the vehicle and around the frame we built a rigid cell. The function of the rigid cell is to have it work with the aerodynamic laws. It’s a very simple approach.

“It also allows us to build vehicles very rapidly. When you’re talking about the production of vehicles, you need the ability to build number of them in a short term and with the frames you can do this.”
The U.S. military has been a key player in the development of the Aeroscraft, with the Pentagon and NASA giving Aeros a total of $36 million towards its research.

“Without the initial funding of the Ministry of Defence it would not be possible to bring such a project to roll,” Igor Pasternak told FT Deutschland.

Accordingly, the first operational versions have already been earmarked for “intra-theatre airlift”, Defense Transportation Journal reports, with each carrying the payload of three C-130 transport planes, but with the fuel cost of just one.

Aeroscraft facts:

  • Top speed: 120 knots
  • Range: 3,000 nautical miles
  • Ceiling: 18,000ft
  • Cargo capacity: 66 tons

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