A Pioneer Passes Away

Gerry Anderson – Creator of Thunderbirds Passes Away


It is of sad news today that we learn that creator of the ever-lasting cult classic Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Gerry Anderson passed away at his home at the age of 83.

From the NZ Herald:

Gerry Anderson, Thunderbirds creator, dies

Gerry Anderson, puppetry pioneer and British creator of the sci-fi hit Thunderbirds TV show, has died. He was 83.

Anderson’s son Jamie said his father died peacefully in his sleep at a nursing home near Oxfordshire, England, after being diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago.

His condition had worsened dramatically over the past six months, his son said.

Anderson’s television career launched in the 1950s. Once Thunderbirds aired in the 1960s, “Thunderbirds are go!” became a catchphrase for generations. It also introduced the use of “supermarionation” – a puppetry technique using thin wires to control marionettes – and made sci-fi mainstream, according to Jamie Anderson.

“He forever changed the direction of sci-fi entertainment,” Jamie told the Associated Press. “Lots of animation and films that have been made in the past 20 or 30 years have been inspired by the work that he did.”

He said the TV show was perhaps his father’s proudest achievement – along with the cross-generational appeal of his body of work, which also included TV showsStingray and Space: 1999, among others.

“Most people know some aspect of one of his shows which is not something that many TV producers can say,” Jamie said. He noted that his father first broke ground with puppets in Thunderbirds, but was trying new techniques, like advanced computer-generated imagery, into his later years with projects such as 2005’s Captain Scarlet, the re-imagining of his 1967 TV animation.

A truly sad day. But his legacy will continue to live on and entertain those for generations to come.

I am currently (as I wrote this) watching “Trapped In the Sky” – the pilot episode to Thunderbirds and one of my favourites.


Rest In Piece Gerry Anderson, you have inspired countless others through to this day and well beyond 🙂



Some quick trivia of Fireflash and Thunderbird One:

Bit of Trivia on Fireflash and Thunderbird One (from a book I dug up)

Fireflash – the Hypersonic Atomic Powered Passenger Aircraft:

  • Passenger Capacity: 600 across 4 classes with seating even in the main wing edges
  • Max Cruising Speed: Mach 6 or (at sea level comparison) 7,200km/h
  • Power Source: Molten Salt Reactor which powers the 6 atomic motors providing the thrust
  • Cruising Height: Usually 250,000 feet or 76.2km
  • Endurance: For the London to Tokyo maiden flight it was just over three hours before the reactor radiation shields expired, however the atomic motors could last 6 months
  • Of Note: Pilots were located in Tail section of aircraft below the atomic motors but believed to be above the main reactor
  • Flight from Auckland to London if on Fireflash: it is a 20,700km trip to keep the aircraft over water so at Mach 6 you are looking at a trip time of around 3.25 hours which includes take off and landing. NOW THAT IS FAST – London in just over three hours – the current time it takes a 777-300ER to do Brisbane to Auckland 😐
  • Technology feasible today? Yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_Reactor_Experiment


Thunderbird One

  • Power source: Micro-fusion pile
  • Speed: 15,000mph or 24,000km approx (Mach 20)
  • Cruising height: varied
  • Of note: Thunderbird One was extremely fast and agile with her 4 different engine types and could also hover for sustained periods


Pure brilliance – absolute brilliance for the time it was created!