The World's Longest Aircraft Is the Beautiful Love Child of a Plane and a Blimp
The longest aircraft ever built took flight for the first time Monday, floating above the ground at an aircraft hangar in in Bedfordshire, England — appropriately the largest in the United Kingdom, the BBC reported.
The Airlander 10, made by Hybrid Air Vehicles, took nine years to build, cost more than $35 million and stretches just over the length of one football field (100.6 yards). The Airlander boasts a number of unique features that HAV's head of partnerships, Chris Daniels, told the BBC "will not compete with a 747 flying across the Atlantic, but can offer the ultimate flight experience for tourism and leisure purposes."
"It's perfect for sightseeing because we can have floor to ceiling clear panels, and we can open the windows because we are not flying as high or as fast as traditional planes," Daniels said.
While the great gray mass may bear more than a passing resemblance to 1930s era blimps, the Airlander 10 is no Hindenburg. The aircraft is powered by non-flammable helium and is so hearty it can reportedly keep flight even with bullet holes. It can also land and take flight from virtually any surface, including deserts, water and ice. As an added bonus, HAV says the aircraft emits no pollution.
Future Airlander 10s are expected to hold 48 people. HAV plans to take the aircraft on its first flight outside the hangar in the coming months.