Airlander 10, the world's largest aircraft that also happens to look like a human butt from certain angles, has taken flight for the first time. The helium-filled blimp took off from the Cardington airfield in central England this afternoon, ABC News reports. The aircraft, affectionately known as the "flying bum" or the "butt blimp," did a loop around the airfield before touching down again.
Baby's first flight
The Airlander 10 is a massive 302 feet long, and filled with helium. Because the helium leaks at a very slow rate (around 10 percent per year, without holes) it's capable of remaining in flight for up to three weeks at a time. The aircraft has not yet been tested for commercial use, but it's capable of carrying 10 metric tons of cargo — a far heavier load than a conventional aircraft can manage — using less fuel.
The UK-based company Hybrid Air Vehicles designed the ship originally for the US Army in 2012, but it was never used. HAV bought the prototype back from the US government in 2013. HAV plans to design an aircraft that can carry five times more weight than the Airlander 10 by 2020, according to ABC News.
During today's flight, the aircraft met all of its test objectives, which included a safe take-off, landing, and "a series of gentle turns at increasing speed," according to HAV. It flew at a height of 500 feet and reached a speed of 35 knots during the course of its 19-minute ride, which ended just before the sun set.
Where does one land a giant butt-shaped helium tank? Chris Daniels, HAV’s head of partnerships and communication, told The Verge, "Anywhere flatish will do."