A violent storm that struck St. Andrews, Manitoba on July 20, 2016 destroyed the BASI Research Airdock and the Misameg MB80 research airship. The storm generated tornados that touched down 30 kilometers west of the BASI Airdock. This structure had withstood high winds for five years, but a storm of this magnitude had not been seen in 30 years according to the St. Andrews Airport Manager. The navigation tower clocked the winds at 68 knots (126 km) before their gauge failed. The staff in the tower worried for their own safety.
The picture gallery documents the impact of this natural disaster. Only the nose cone and the landing wheel of the MB80 emerged unscathed. The remainder of the airship is beyond repair.
The loss of the BASI Research Airdock ends cold weather testing of airships in Canada, for now. This is problematic because airships must be proven to withstand Arctic weather conditions before they are permitted to operate commercially in Canadian airspace. A replacement airdock is needed, and this building should be big enough to welcome airships from around the world so that they can be tested in a safe environment.
Airships that can operate year-round in Arctic conditions are the most viable solution to the problems of sky-high food prices and economic disparities in Canada’s remote communities. The North has a treasure chest of known mineral deposits that are uneconomic to develop only because of the cost of building road access. Airships are the only means of transport that will be unaffected by the melting permafrost and replace the ice roads that are becoming increasingly unreliable.
BASI has learned a lot over the past five years that can be applied to the commercial development of airships. In the immediate future, the company is focused on cleaning up the site and salvaging what can be repurposed. Research continues in areas that do not require an airdock. We appreciate the many sympathetic communications of concern that have been received from the public. BASI is not giving up, and we are heartened by the many like-minded individuals who also believe in the future of our work.