Helium airships are on the rise – Airlander 10 takes technology to new heights


When the great George Strait sang, “Amarillo by morning, Amarillo I’ll be there,” he wasn’t headed there for helium, despite that Amarillo, Texas is known for being the hometown of the nation’s largest supply.

The Federal Helium Reserve – created following the introduction of the Helium Act of 1925 – uses the Bush Dome reservoir at the Cliffside Storage Facility to store its helium. Today’s airships utilize helium rather than hydrogen as a lifting gas, and the industrial gas industry has been proactive in supporting airship projects such as Airlander 10, created by UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) and funded in part by BOC, a subsidiary of The Linde Group.

The US was initially involved with the creation of the then-dubbed Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), planning to have the US Army employ it for long-range surveillance. However, in 2012, after the vehicle’s first test flight in New Jersey, the US Army backed out due to budget cutbacks and HAV purchased all rights to the development of the first full-sized hybrid aircraft.

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