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Working in partnership Gefa Flug, the Cameron Balloons hot-air airship costs less than 5% of the price of a modern helium-filled craft to operate. The hot-air airship requires no large hanger, no portable mooring mast, no expensive ancillary equipment and only a small operating crew.
Maintenance of the Gefa Flug hot-air airship is simple and inexpensive.
Like hot air balloons, thermal airships are first inflated partially with cold (ambient temperature) air. Once the envelopes are sufficiently full, a propane burner is ignited, and the inflation is completed using heated air.
A Hot Air Ship generates buoyancy by heating air in the large envelope, overhead a Gondola. The lower density of interior hot air compared to cool ambient air causes an upward force on the envelope. This is very similar to a hot air balloon, with the notable exception that an airship has a powered means of propulsion, whilst a hot air balloon relies on winds for navigation.
These Hot Air Ships are routinely deflated after each flight and can be readily packed for storage and/or transport.
The first public flight of a hot air airship was made by Don Cameron in a Cameron D-96 at the Icicle Meet in January 1973.