Residents of Bedfordshire, England who happened to look up at the right time yesterday evening were greeted by a strange sight: a massive white aircraft, like two blimps stuck together, whirring overhead. But this wasn’t a UFO, or a second, more anatomically correct moon. It was Airlander 10, the world’s largest airship, finally freed from gravity’s constraints and taking its first-ever test flight.
Airlander 10, which was built by the company Hybrid Air Vehicles, has much to recommend it: it has a low carbon footprint, it can stay airborne for 2 weeks unmanned, and it looks, from some angles, like a huge butt.
For its maiden voyage, the craft took a lap of Cardington airfield in Bedfordshire, England. The trip took about half an hour, during which spectators shouted, “yes!”, and took photographs of the aircraft looming against the dusk. “It was beautiful. It’s just so unusual,” one fan, Donna Seymour, told Sky News.
The Airlander 10 hybrid airship undergoes checks before its maiden flight at Cardington Airfield pic.twitter.com/onVRXv2MBr— Elliot Wagland (@elliotwagland) August 17, 2016
Airlander 10 has about 200 hours of test flights left until it can, in all its glory, take free reign of the sky. When it’s ready, HAV has many uses lined up for it—it might ship cargo, serve as a surveillance aircraft, or even carry passengers. Because airships can land almost everywhere, their uses are manifold. “Imagine a large airship being able to land with a medical emergency department on board, right at the scene of the disaster,” airship expert Tim Robinson explained to CNN last year.
You know what they say: when you’re a giant butt, everything looks like a seat.
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