back to article 'Flying Bum's' first flight was a gas, gas, gas

To quote Douglas Adams, “uglier things have been spotted in the sky, but not by reliable witnesses”: England's Airlander 10, nicknamed the “flying bum” for obvious reasons, has taken its first test flight. Originally created for the US Army's since-cancelled Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), the enormous …

  1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Look up there, a Kardashian


    1. gregthecanuck

      Re: Look up there, a Kardashian

      Thanks for that. You win the LOL of the day award. :)

    2. Bitbeisser

      Re: Look up there, a Kardashian

      No, for that the proportions of it's rear end are to small compared to the rest of the body...

  2. Gray

    We're thankful!

    Only $100,000,000 ? Thank God! For a minute there, I thought we might be talking serious money!

    (US taxpayer. That's my jacket pocket getting picked clean again.)

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: We're thankful!

      That may or may not have something to do with Northrop Grumman being involved.

    2. Last gasp

      Re: We're thankful!

      Another bum deal for the taxpayer! If pigs could fly.......

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Does it really sound like that?

    I live some 30 km from an airport where a conventional blimp is based. They do sightseeing trips and use it as a flying billboard. So it is a faily common sight around here. If you're outdoors you usually hear it before you see it - but it's a constant low frequency steady drone that's not unpleasant. I find it actually has a kind of soothing, reassuring quality. A perfect background sound for a lazy afternoon out in the garden.

    But this? Sounds like some silly contraption that is about to fall apart any minute. That being said, it looks amazing. Like a Typhoon-class submarine swimming in the sky. (Well, that's what lighter-than-air aircraft are all about and how they work, right?)

    Anyway, all the best for HAV, hope the Airlander is successfull - I for one would like to see airships cruising the sky.

    Bootnote: the Airlander 10 is roughly 5 times larger than the Zeppelin NT in terms of volume and payload.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Swelling chords

      Probably that's the sound of the helicopter used to vid the blimp. Odd that they didn't just replace it with some nice 'uplifting' music.

    2. Fungus Bob

      Re: Sounds like some silly contraption that is about to fall apart any minute.

      I made a sound like that after a night of drinking from a bottle with no label.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Yes, it did make the whole thing sound very 1930's internal combustion engine-like.

  4. Magani
    Black Helicopters

    International Rescue - Is that You?

    So that's Thunderbird 2 built. Only leaves 1, 3, 4 & 5.

    Anyone seen Virgil and Gordon?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: International Rescue - Is that You?

      Can we just let that insipid childhood memory die, please?

      1. Andrew Newstead

        Re: International Rescue - Is that You?


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: International Rescue - Is that You?

          I am humbled by the near universal spanking I have received over my opinion on The Thunderbirds. I apologize.

          In my defense, all I can really remember about the show are visible strings, heads looking the wrong way, terrible dialogue, and loooong padded action sequences.

          Ghod, how I loved it then...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "... makes it officially the largest aircraft to take to the skies, at 92 metres long"

    The Hindenburg was 245m long ?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Hindenburg

      Hindenberg was lighter than air. This is heavier than air (So was the R101, eventually)

      1. ChrisBedford

        Re: Hindenburg

        This is heavier than air

        No it's not! No wings or other lifting power. Why would the body need to be so enormous if it was HTA?

        In any event, the statement was "largest aircraft" not largest "lighter than aircraft". And the Hindenberg was indeed 245 m long, so the flying bum is a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-g way short of the largest or longest aircraft ever made.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Hindenburg

          The body is designed to act as a wing, so when it has cargo on board, it will be heavier than the air. Or at least that's the plan.

          "The massive envelope maintains its shape by internal gas pressure, blimp-style, and is intended to generate extra dynamic lift over and above that from its helium filling as the ship flies along. The vessel will normally be heavier than air overall - it won't lift off the ground on its own. This is what is meant by a "hybrid airship"."

          (from here)

        2. TitterYeNot

          Re: Hindenburg

          "No it's not! No wings or other lifting power. Why would the body need to be so enormous if it was HTA?"

          The article may be playing with semantics a little. The Hindenburg was lighter than air, and so strictly speaking an airship not an aircraft (yes, I know...), while the HAV 304 Airlander 10 is a hybrid airship (the clue is in the name of the manufacturer, Hybrid Air Vehicles) which is heavier than air and so could be classed as an aircraft.

          It manages to fly due to the whole of the craft being shaped as a lifting body (thats why it looks like two airships squished together) and so uses forward motion to produce enough lift to fly. If you look at the video, you'll see it taking off as it moves forward, not lifting straight up in the air like a conventional airship.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hindenburg

            Pure aircraft are expensive to run (especially helicopters) and the fixed-wing ones require runways. Pure airships are cheap to run, but are slow, huge compared to their cargo, have buoyancy issues, and are easily pushed around by the wind.

            This hybrid is an attempt to split the difference between them and hit some kind of sweet spot. It does eliminate the buoyancy issues and is somewhat less affected by wind (it's smaller than a pure airship), but the running costs are up and now it needs a runway.

            Apparently the US Army decided this white elephant was exactly that and wrote it off.

            1. a_yank_lurker

              Re: Hindenburg

              The concept is interesting and has merit for some applications. The idea is combine the lift from He with a modified flying wing so that is can use shorter runways for the same cargo capacity. There may be no real good military applications as they not terribly fast and are rather large targets. But there may be some civilian applications, both passenger and cargo, where they would be a fit (certain short haul passenger flights and heavier cargo). Often military research is judged a failure when the military applications are not viable but the concept is viable.

        3. dajames

          Re: Hindenburg

          This is heavier than air

          No it's not! No wings or other lifting power. Why would the body need to be so enormous if it was HTA?

          It is a "hybrid aircraft" aka "hybrid airship"

          It is heavier than air, but not by a lot. It relies on the body acting like a wing and creating lift as it moves forward.

    2. Tom 7

      Re: Hindenburg

      My granddad was an engineer on the 196m long R33. I think they must be talking biggest flying thing now.

  6. toxicdragon

    I don't care how ugly it is, I just love airships, childhood me is very happy.

  7. Fortycoats

    The next Ed Force One?

    Will Bruce be flying this for Iron Maiden's next world tour?

    Or maybe not, his song "Empire of the Clouds" was about the R101 airship, which didn't end too well.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: The next Ed Force One?

      Ahh... but no conversation about music and R101 should be without mentioning Curly's Airships, surely, mm?'s_Airships

    2. breakfast Silver badge

      Now the circle is complete

      This brings things full circle- Iron Maiden influencing a zeppelin.

  8. Chris G

    If I owned that

    I would seriously have to consider a hollowed out volcano in my future plans, got the white, must practice my evil laugh and get some duelling scars.

    I wonder how difficult it is to steal?

    1. Frenchie Lad

      Re: If I owned that

      With all the smug self-satisfaction going on, probably very easy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If I owned that

      > I wonder how difficult it is to steal?

      I shouldn't think it'd have any anti theft devices on board but you'd probably want the manual to start it. Another thing to consider is that unless you can dress it up as a very convincing cloud then it's going to be tricky to sneak it away.

      I do have the SR-71 pilots notes, a set of bolt-cutters and a map to Duxford if you need a plan B....

  9. Christoph

    Still got a long way to go to match Castle Wulfenbach

  10. ChrisBedford

    It even beats the Antonov AN-225's 84 metres, but the Airlander's helium-based lift is only 10 tonnes (the Antonov is good for about 250 tonnes)

    I'll bet it also falls a fair way short of the AN-225's top speed of 520+ mph.

  11. Dabooka

    Sorry how much?!

    I know it's already been said on the boards, but $100 million?! Just how much is helium nowadays?

    1. Dabooka

      Re: Sorry how much?!

      Not sure why the downvotes, but I'd love an answer to the question.

      Obviously it's more than just helium, but what the hell has cost $100 million?

      1. Fatman

        Re: Sorry how much?!

        <quote>but what the hell has cost $100 million?</quote>

        Lots of defense department """pork""".

        1. Dabooka

          Re: Sorry how much?!

          Lots of defense department """pork""".

          Well of course that goes without saying!

      2. annodomini2

        Re: Sorry how much?!

        "Obviously it's more than just helium, but what the hell has cost $100 million?"

        Engineering cost + nice fat pay off for military contractor.

        Ford usually spend around $2bn developing a new generation Transit van.

        VW spend ~$13Bn/year on R&D.

        Boeing spent $32bn on the Dreamliner.

        So $100m for a prototype is cheap TBH.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry how much?!

      I recall looking at the designs for various models of Skycat, and looked up pricing, and IIRC the price quoted back then (some years ago) for a small one that could lift enough to be turned into a private sky yacht was about five million quid. So, just need a big win on the lottery, say 20 million, to allow for purchase of HAV, purchase of hangar, annual fuel helium and maintenance costs, crew salaries, etc and I could just wander the skies for the rest of my life. (cue 'Airship Pirates' by Abney Park)

      Incidentally, when lightly laden, the steerable fans can be used to increase lift, making it more nearly VTOL. And it can land on water as well as land. Superb. WANT!

  12. casaloco

    It's not what if can lift

    It's not what if can lift that matters, it's how long the spy platform can stay up for.

  13. David Pollard

    It's based on the Pinky Ponk

    Clearly the designers must have studied aeronautics In the Night Garden.

  14. Ed 13
    Thumb Up

    It gives you a sense of scale

    Compare it to the Air Ship Sheds behind it. R100 and R101 filled each shed and you'd fit several of these in each shed. They were *seriously* big!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i wonder...

    ..if Amazon are interested in using this as a mothership for an army of drones delivering parcels around the bigger cities.

    1. Fatman

      Re: i wonder...

      A rather insidious thought occurred to me when reading your comment.

      I could picture a fleet of these simply "dropping off" parcels for delivery. (Think "parcel bombing" of neighborhoods.)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: i wonder...

        "I could picture a fleet of these simply "dropping off" parcels for delivery. (Think "parcel bombing" of neighborhoods.)"

        Spam in a can? Could make a nasty dent!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an airship fan I am quite pleased...

    ...but I do wonder why the A600 had been painted with double-yellow lines outside the sheds (derestricted, fairly narrow, blind bends) and then people were allowed to park on the lines both sides and create a traffic nightmare. With hundreds of pedestrians around there too it was just asking for trouble.

    I wish HAV well, but someone needs to think about what to do with the spectators.

  17. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Tower, requesting a flyby

    Negative, the pattern is full.

    Oh shit, he's going for it anyway, here he comes!

    clunkrty clunkety clunkety clunkety clunkety .....

    Has he passed yet?

    No sir!

    Make me another cup of tea while we're waiting.

    Yes sir!

    clunkety clunkety CLUNKETY CLUNKETY CLUNKETY ...

    Oh Christ, someone pass me the earmuffs and tell me when he's passed. And get me another cup of tea. Indian this time, none of that china muck!

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