“Studies have determined that balloons and airships have a high degree of popularity,” Hassa reports. Precisely that is the mission of the Bayer airship in the company’s anniversary year: To draw attention, evoke positive emotions and generate interest in the airship and Bayer. It is a heavenly ambassador for an international, innovative research organization.
Bayer material Makrolon or the cladding
“Bayer decided in favor of an airship because, unlike a balloon that depends on thermal columns, it can be controlled and made to circle in the sky,” says Sonja Diewerge, media spokesperson at Bayer and responsible for the anniversary project. The airship will fly in the morning before sunrise, in the evening after sundown, and when winds are calm. For the Bayer Group, safety is priority number one in this project as it is in other areas. For this reason, two pilots will be on board at all times, contrary to usual practice in airships. That means that two remaining seats are still available on all flights.
However, much still has to be done before the first passengers can come on board. As soon as the gondola frame comes back from welding, it will be Wilfried Eichstädt’s turn to take over. The automotive mechanic, together with an electrician, is responsible for finishing the interior: glazing, cushions, engine, tank, propellers, burner controller.
A familiar Bayer material is to be used for the cladding: Makrolon. Fitting the glazing is another challenge, as interior expert Eichstädt explains. “For the cockpit, the cladding at the top and bottom must be curved to different degrees. If it warps by even just two millimeters, the holes will not match up anymore.”
After 2013 the airship will continue to serve as a Bayer ambassador
Like the interior specialists, seamstress Annette Sander of Gefa-Flug also is ready to start work on the Bayer fabric envelope. She is just waiting for the material to arrive. In the weeks ahead, she will sew a good 2,500 meters of seams on the 1,300 meters of material, until it takes on the shape of an airship.
The material is very thin and extremely tear-resistant. At the same time, it is silicone-coated and very slippery. "It takes a lot of skill to sew this material accurately," Hassa says. Sander has the just the right kind of experience, because she has worked for Gefa-Flug for twelve years.
Once the seamstress is finished, the two lettering specialists can take over: The Bayer cross with the “Science For A Better Life” slogan and “150 years” will first be bonded onto the envelope and then sewn. “It’s not easy applying a two-dimensional object onto a three-dimensional body,” Hassa points out.
As a sustainable company, Bayer naturally is thinking beyond its anniversary year. The “150 years” will be removed from the airship after 2013. Gefa-Flug trains pilots at the Bayer Leverkusen sport aviation club. The airship will continue to serve as a Bayer ambassador, both in the sky and on the ground.