It is thought to be the world’s largest aircraft. Airlander 10, a giant blimp shaped helium-filled airship, has made its maiden voyage in front of hundreds of spectators, taking off from a field in central England.
It has been nicknamed the “flying bum” because of its bulbous front end.
“Well this is a piece of aviation history. I see a lot of vintage aircraft flying around, and find them fascinating. So to see something that is at the cutting edge of aviation technology, I wasn’t going to miss that for the world,” said one spectator.
The company which built the airship says it uses less fuel than a plane, can carry heavier loads and stays up for days at a time.
“What it does now, and will do, is fly, point to point, a bit like a giant helicopter, taking bigger loads, longer distances, cheaper, safer and crucially, without the same damage to the environment,” says Stephen McGlennan, CEO, Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd.
The airship was initially developed for military surveillance use in Afghanistan until the US scrapped its blimp programme in 2013.
Different from aircraft, it doesn’t need a runway to take off, which means it can land on water, ice or even the desert and can also travel up to 100 kilometres per hour.