Why is the Trump balloon known as a ‘blimp’?

21 July 2018

9:00 AM

21 July 2018

9:00 AM

Blimpish beginnings

Protesters flew a ‘blimp’ depicting President Trump as a baby in central London. Why are balloons known as ‘blimps’?

— One explanation is that the US military had two kinds of balloon: the Type A (rigid) and the Type B (limp). The use of the term ‘B class’ for balloons was not used till 1917.

— In December 1915 Lt A.D. Cunningham was inspecting a balloon at the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) station at Capel-le-Ferne near Folkestone when he tapped it and it gave out a sound close to ‘blimp’.

— The term has also been attributed to Horace Short, who is said to have coined it at RNAS Kingsnorth in February 1915, though why he chose the word is not clear.

— The use of ‘blimp’ to describe a rotund person was first recorded in 1920.

— Colonel Horatio Blimp was not invented by cartoonist David Low until 1934.

Celebratory bus rides

The England manager Gareth Southgate rejected the idea of his team taking an open-topped bus ride to celebrate reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup. What do you have to do to earn such a ride?

— England’s victory in the 2003 rugby world cup (three buses)

— England cricket team regaining the Ashes in 2005 (two buses)

— Manchester City’s win of the Premiership, 2018 (two buses)

— Hibernian victory in Scottish Cup, 2016

— Rochdale promoted to League One, 2013

— Newport County’s win in a play-off to re-enter the football league, 2013

— Olympics and Paralympics 2012, 900 competitors in 21 open-topped lorries

Who wants to be a billionaire?

Elon Musk objected to being described as a ‘billionaire’, requesting to be called a ‘scientist and engineer’ instead.

— According to Forbes there are 2,208 people worth more than $1 billion. Of these, 1,866 qualify as sterling billionaires. Top is Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, who is worth $112 billion. Elon Musk comes in at no. 54, with £19.9 billion. Musk is one place ahead of Britain’s Hinduja family, on $19.5 billion.

Transatlantic first-timers

A drone completed the first unmanned transatlantic flight, taking 24 hours and two minutes to fly the 3,769 miles from North Dakota to RAF Fairford. The first manned transatlantic flight was made by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown, flying from St John’s Newfoundland to Derrygimlagh Bog, Co. Galway, in June 1919. Their shorter route of 1,890 miles was completed in 15 hours, 57 minutes.


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