Airlander 10, the world's largest aircraft, takes off for the first time

World's longest aircraft

History was made this week when the Airlander 10, the world’s largest aircraft, took flight for the first time. The 302-feet-long, helium-filled air vessel -- that has somewhat snarkily been nicknamed “The Flying Rump” because it looks like a giant butt -- made a full lap around Cardington airfield in Bedfordshire, England, the BBC reports.

The Airlander 10 was initially created for the U.S. military​ as a surveillance vehicle in Afghanistan, but those plans were scratched back in 2013, according to the Associated Press. 

Eventually, U.K.-based Hybrid Air Vehicles stepped in and made the aircraft a reality, CNET reports.

Probably due to its military origins, the Airlander 10 can hold up against multiple bullet holes and is designed to operate in “all weather conditions.”

The image of the giant, floating rump-shaped vessel drew a lot of attention from onlookers. Hundreds of English locals stationed their cars near the airfield to see the aircraft’s short flight.

“It’s a great British innovation,” Hybrid Air Vehicles chief executive Stephen McGlennan said. “It’s a combination of an aircraft that has parts of normal fixed-wing aircraft, it’s got helicopter, it’s got airship.”

The plane is strong, carrying up to 22,050 pounds of passengers or cargo and can reach an altitude of up to 16,000 feet. The Airlander 10 can also travel up to 90 mph and stay in the air for up to two weeks.

This first flight came after a test flight on Sunday was canceled​ due to technical complications. 

The Airlander 10 can “provide air transportation for people and goods without the need for a runway. But this thing can take more over longer distances, it’s cheaper and it’s greener,” McGlennan added.

The verdict is still out on whether we’ll start seeing more of this kind of giant aircraft​ in the sky. That being said McGlennan added that the Airlander 10’s potential to gather data and carry out surveillance for relatively long stretches of time could make it ideal for both civilian for military use.

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