Calling Capt. Bob Southunder, your aircraft is ready!
Four years after the US Army deemed it too expensive, the hybrid airship – a carbon-composite cross between a zeppelin, a helicopter and an aeroplane - was gently piloted into the open in a delicate five-minute operation.
It was towed 30 minutes to its resting point at a primary mast site, one of two specially prepared on the same airfield at Cardington, Bedfordshire, where in 1919 British engineers embarked on their own failed attempts to challenge Germany's fated Zeppelin programme.
It derives 60pc of its lift aerostatically (by being lighter-than-air), and 40pc aerodynamically (by being wing-shaped), and was helped into being by a £250,000 donation from Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson.