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(Courtesy Bayer AG)

Around the World in an Airship

Bayer airship pilot Haimo Wendelstein reflects on one of the mellowest forms of flying.

Do you ever think about learning to fly a powered aircraft?

Never. I have enough to do with airships. Hot-air airships are a quite “young” type of aircraft, and I am interested to help make them better, together with Gefa-Flug, the only manufacturer of hot-air airships worldwide at this time. Of course, hot-air airships have also an engine with propeller [for thrust]. With 65 horsepower the engine is not very powerful, but they are still powered aircraft, I think.

Fantasy time: What would make the perfect hot-air airship?

The first step is a more powerful engine—let’s say for the beginning, 100 hp, which allows more speed, means flying in more wind. The time for the cold inflation could be a bit shorter. Another thing is the lifetime of the envelope fabric, which could be more than around 450 hours.

What other types of (non-airship) aircraft have you flown?

None. To fly hot-air airships it is necessary to have a hot-air balloon license with a rating for hot-air airships, but I didn’t make many balloon flights, because flying airships is much more interesting for me.

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