The World’s Largest Aircraft Lifts Off for the First Time

Justin Tallis/Getty
Justin Tallis/Getty / Justin Tallis/Getty

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a … flying bum?

That’s the sight spectators were treated to on Wednesday, August 17 when the Airlander 10 took off for the first time from Bedfordshire, England. The helium-filled vessel is thought to be the largest aircraft on earth, and its clefted, voluptuous shape has earned it a rather amusing nickname, ABC News reports.

The so-called “flying bum” is a hybrid blimp-helicopter-airplane of enormous proportions. The vessel stretches 302 feet from back to front—a fifth longer than the world’s longest jet. Weighing around 44,100 pounds, the Airlander is designed to carry more cargo than traditional airships while consuming less fuel. It can sustain a flight for two weeks at a time and, according to its creators, Hybrid Air Vehicles, it can travel as high as 16,000 feet and reach speeds of 90 mph.

Hybrid Air Vehicles claims its aircraft will revolutionize air transportation, but prior to this week it hadn’t lifted off the ground. Its brief yet successful tour around Cardington airfield on Wednesday evening marked the start of 200 hours of test flights. The developers envision a future for the Airlander as a commercial passenger vessel as well as a military tool.

It originated as a U.S. military project for its long-term surveillance potential overseas before it was acquired by the British aviation company. Other applications for the posterior-shaped blimp could include shipping goods and providing cell phone coverage to remote regions.

[h/t ABC News]

All images courtesy of Justin Tallis/Getty.

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