Around the World in an Airship

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

(Courtesy Bayer AG)

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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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