Rutherglen man to pilot world’s largest aircraft
A Rutherglen man this week described what it is like to be chief test pilot of the world’s largest aircraft.
David Burns, 61, is part of a team in England who are working on trying to get the Airlander 10, a 302ft-long plane, up into the sky once again.
The giant aircraft is about 50ft longer than the biggest passenger jets and is 143ft wide and 85ft high.
The finished model was unveiled last week, Monday, in a World War One hanger in Bedfordshire and was originally developed for the US government as a long endurance surveillance aircraft before it fell foul of defence cutbacks.
British firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) launched a campaign to return the Airlander 10 to the skies in May 2015.
David, who grew up in Spittal and flew Airlander 10 in 2012, said: “It’s quite a special feeling.
“I flew it once and from the flight deck you have an excellent view.
“It’s also quiet up there because the engines are about 120ft behind you.
“It is a mix of aircraft and airship and it could be ready to fly soon but a lot of tests have to be carried out on it.
“For the people on board and the people down below it’s going to look quite a sight.”
It will now under go ground testing before 200 hours of test flights begin later this year.
The huge aircraft will be able to stay airborne for about five days during manned flights.
David, a former Spittal Primary and Rutherglen Academy pupil, went to study air engineering at Glasgow University and Southampton College to take part in flight training.
He has been based in England for 33 years but still has family in Rutherglen.
The pilot is part of a team of Scots including chief executive Stephen McGlennan, from Stepps in North Lanarkshire and chairman Philip Gwyn, grandson of Hugh McMillan, the founder of Blythswood Shipyard in Scotstoun.
HAV, who designed and manufactured the aircraft, claims it could be used for a variety of functions such as surveillance, communications, delivering aid and even passenger travel.
The Airlander 10 uses helium to become airborne and can travel at 92mph.
It is hoped that the Airlander 50 will eventually be developed, which would be able to transport 50 tonnes of freight.