Airships, widely used before the 1940s for controlled motor-powered flight, gave way to fixed-wing aircraft early in the history of human flight. The early airships’ slow speed, large size and inability to maneuver made them cumbersome, and hydrogen gas made them highly flammable. Times change, however, and so did airships. Aeros, a Montebello, Calif., company that designs and manufactures lighter-than-air products, makes aerostats (moored unmanned balloons) for aerial observation platforms. For aerostats, the ability to hover in one place trumps speed and maneuverability.
The Aeros 3200, ideal for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, is a mobile, mid-sized aerostat that provides a long-term surveillance platform with little need for operating personnel. It consists of enhanced envelop fabric filled with nonflammable helium, a digital flight-control system, robotic mooring system and the ability to carry cameras, radar, telecommunications equipment or scientific apparatus. The Aeros 3200 ISR operates at an altitude of 5,000 feet, deploys rapidly and is designed to withstand hurricane-force winds, snow loads, heavy rain, lightning and a wide range of temperatures (from Amazon rainforest to arctic climates). Aeros designs products to customer specifications, and all of the company’s products are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as airworthy.