An hour’s train ride away from London resides the world’s largest aircraft. Called the Airlander 10, it’s a 300-foot-long throwback to a bygone era when it was believed that airships and dirigibles would fill the skies and become the dominant means by which we moved goods and people around. Jet-fueled planes ended up fulfilling that ambition more adroitly, but the Airlander is the product of a team passionately convinced that airships still have a role to play in the modern world.

Originally designed as a surveillance and reconnaissance craft for the US Army’s Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle program, the Airlander was intended to remain in the sky for up to 21 days while carrying 2,500 pounds of communications and sensor equipment. It took its maiden flight in the summer of 2012, however budget cutbacks and project delays eventually deprived the ship of its funding and left it in limbo until the original designers at Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) bought it back late last year. They spent $301,000 to acquire the prototype, which was the linchpin of an investment of over $154 million from the Army.