2016 was a successful year, with Airlander’s first flight breaking new ground in aviation. Airlander claimed the title of the world’s largest flying aircraft. The two flights represented the only hybrid flight in 2016 and Airlander is the only full-sized aircraft ever to fly in this entirely new way, merging wing-shape lift with buoyant lift.
The Airlander was finally completed and unveiled to an ensemble of global press within the hangar. Following this, in April, HRH The Duke of Kent visited and officially named the Airlander as ‘Martha Gwyn’ in tribute to Chairman Philip Gwyn’s wife.
The company successfully raised over £1 million funding on Crowdcube in April after raising £500,000 in just half a day. This helped fund through to first flight.
After building global attention, the day came for first flight and just before 8pm on 17th August, 2016, Airlander took to the sky for the first time in front of assembled crowds and media.
Stephen McGlennan, CEO of Hybrid Air Vehicles, said: “It was a beautiful day to be out on the field and it was a real pleasure to see the "Martha Gwyn" take off. It was a short flight, but a good one, and we captured headlines round the world.”
On a sunny day on 24th August the Airlander undertook a second successful flight that lasted for over an hour and a half. As she came in to land a technical issue led to a heavy landing that resulted in a damaged cockpit but without injury. Following this the Airlander was brought into the hangar where she has been undergoing repairs, which are nearing completion.
Hybrid Air Vehicles has won and been shortlisted for a number of awards, including the EEF’s "Future Manufacturing Award for 2016", "Cleantech Innovate" and were asked to showcase at the finals of Wired magazine’s “Moonshot” awards.
Over 26,000 UK students have been engaged with Airlander through direct, or partner STEM activities. The company’s schools’ programme has presented at over 20 schools and has run programmes lasting a full term. Hybrid Air Vehicles also supported the School’s Aerospace Challenge and invited the 40 finalists to the Hangar during the summer camp at Cranfield University.