The world's longest aircraft left the hangar in central England for the first time ahead of its debut flight that could mark a new age for airships. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: The Airlander 10, known in the UK as 'the flying bum' for obvious reasons, has slowly edged its way out of the hangar… the finally stage before its debut flight as a civilian aircraft. Developed by Hybrid Air Vehicles, the 92 meter helium-filled airship was supposed to be a spy plane for the U.S. Army, able to hover over war zones for weeks using only a fraction of the fuel needed by conventional aircraft. But when military funds dried up, grants and $25 million dollars worth of private investment allowed the company to continue funding the project. The airship is a hybrid between a blimp and a zeppelin and the company is hoping it will corner the market in areas ranging from humanitarian aid delivery to cargo shipments in hard to reach places. The Airlander can take off and land vertically and can operate from open fields, deserts, ice or water, meaning it could operate where most conventional airplanes can't. A series of final ground tests in planned for the coming weeks ahead of the flight. If all goes well, the company hope to be building a 12 more airships by 2018.