Argentina Leads Airship Team to Represent South America in the World Sky Race



The inception moment for the Argentina entry into the World Sky Race would fit into an epic movie script. Bob Fowler, CEO Aerovehicles Inc. and airship pilot, met Don Hartsell, Commissioner World Air League out in the middle a field in rural Argentina during the last total solar eclipse. Hartsell was in Argentina participating in an international balloon expedition consisting of 19 hot air balloons to observe the total solar eclipse. During the critical inflation launch window as the countdown for the the total eclipse was in its final minutes, a wind storm unexpectedly burst and blew through the balloon expedition camp. Hot-air balloons with crews were suddenly being dragged through the rocky scraggle, colliding into other balloons and entangling crew baskets with one catching fire burning parts of its envelope while frenetically trying to launch. The Swiss Hart balloon on which Hartsell was crewing was bouncing wildly over the rocks, gyrating from side to side, starting to lift without a pilot controlling its bucking. Hartsell was grappling with its topmost tether rope and was about to be dragged or lifted in whatever direction the balloon careened. Bob Fowler, a local volunteer for the balloon event, ran and grabbed the rope with Hartsell. Together they wrangled the balloon until the winds abated. Of the 19 balloons, 6 balloons succeeded in launching, 13 did not.

In the grateful and discovering conversation after, Hartsell and Fowler connected their mutual interests and learned about the friends that they share from around the world. Among Bob’s credentials, he is a certified airship pilot. He moved to Argentina to pursue developing hybrid airship technology. He knew George Spyrou, one of the greatest friends and supporters for the World Sky Race. On the spot Bob agreed to be the Chairman for the World Sky Race Argentina Local Organizing Committee ALOC.

Appreciative and pleased, Hartsell said, “Bob materialized in a dire moment and I am so glad he did. I did not know whether to let go the tether and watch our expedition balloon dash into the rocks or billow and be blown away into the darkening skies above. This was not, is not, a metaphor. It was a celestial alignment. Another proof on how small our world is.”

Starting preparations and planning for the global challenge, Bob Fowler said, “All of the personnel at Aerovehicles Inc are extremely happy to assist and participate in the World Sky Race. Personally, I am honored to accept the position of Chairman for the World Sky Race Argentina Local Organizing Committee ALOC and look forward to entering an airship representing all of South America.”

Since starting their involvement, AVI has made profound contributions to charting the Race route, improving the safety and doability of the entire program. The newest route additions are within the technical capabilities of the Skyships, Zeppelin NTs and ABC Lightships. The impact for seasonal weather is more refined. Communications, logistic management and predicted movement of ground crews, flight crew hours aloft and aircraft maintenance have all been examined to improve and make safer operations on a global basis. The Rules and Regulations for the Race are clearer on the team requirements.

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Press Releases

Press Release: September 5, 2017

Bob Fowler
Aerovehicles Inc.
+54 9 266 470-7446

Aerovehicles Launches its First Aerostat, Especially Designed for Surveillance Tasks in All Types of Weather, Including Arctic Winds and Ice

The company seeks its place in a growing market

Villa de Merlo, San Luis: During the last week of August 2017, Aerovehicles Inc. (AVI) completed the first flights of its aerostat prototype. It successfully passed all the tests it was subjected to in varying wind conditions. The aerostat was designed entirely in Argentina in conjunction with the Aeronautical and Space Department of the National Industrial Technology Institute (INTI, its acronym in Spanish) and manufactured in Concordia, Entre Rios together with BA Aeroplanos (BAaer).

Very pleased with the successful flight tests, AVI CEO Bob Fowler said: “With this prototype we meet a specific demand fulfilling a fundamental need of Argentina while creating high tech jobs in the Argentine Aerospace industry. At a competitive price, our aerostat design has equal or better capabilities than those offered in the rest of the world, which allows us to enter the market in a very good position with an excellent product”.

However, much work remains to be done. With the data obtained from the tests the engineers from AVI, INTI and BAaer will define the final design, while preparing for the production line. On the other hand, AVI believes that this aerostat will represent a great contribution to its line of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services, which includes all three versions of the Berkut airplane: manned, optionally manned and unmanned (autonomous or remotely piloted).

About Aerovehicles Inc.: Founded and incorporated in California, USA in 2002, AVI has maintained a presence in Argentina since 2007 with a majority of the directors being Argentine. Based in the Province of San Luis, the company is dedicated to the design and production of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. In cooperation with national and foreign companies, AVI develops and provides state-of-the-art ISR system platforms and solutions in Argentina for worldwide export.

  • Aerostato Tripanko - Aerovehicles Conceptual Flight 2017 Merlo - San Luis - Argentina

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Aerovehicles Inc SA signs alliance (ISRA) with LSI & Innovage Inc. to provide LiDAR services

Aerovehicles Inc. S.A. (AVISA) Argentina, LiDAR International Services Inc. (LSI) Canada and Innovage Microsystems Inc. (IMS) Canada have formed an alliance to collaborate, through a strategic alliance, for the purpose of providing aerial mapping, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services. This alliance includes the manufacture of manned and unmanned ISR aircraft, and the remote sensing equipment for both commercial and civil requirements. Manufacturing facilities are currently located in Canada with operational offices in Argentina, Canada, Malaysia and the United States.

Organization WISRA

The alliance partners each bring a unique set of skills, expertise and technologies (sensing equipment and aircraft) to the collaboration. Collectively, the alliance has the capacity to design, build, supply and operate aerial platforms to support ISR missions.

LiDAR Services International Inc. (LSI) is based in Calgary, Canada, has been in operation since 2002. LSI has successfully conducted more than 40,000 square kilometers of wide area LiDAR surveys and more than 50,000 linear kilometers of utility corridors in 315 projects over the last 13 years. Its primary function is as an airborne LiDAR operations company, collecting and processing LiDAR and imagery for our clients, but it also designs and builds its own system hardware and software. International operations have always been a part of its business, primarily in Asia and the Americas. LSI has affiliate offices in Malaysia and Barbados, a subsidiary in the US, and a diversified subsidiary in Canada which focuses on portable and mobile gas leak inspection surveys. LSI will provide the LiDAR systems for ISRA’s aircraft.

Innovage Microsystems Inc. (IMS) is also Calgary based. IMS has provided advanced electronic systems to the aviation industry for over 34 years. IMS’s capabilities range from concept development, prototyping, to full production development. The company focuses on product design, certification, and qualification testing, electronics and software integration, as well as certified actuation systems for military and commercial aircraft applications. Its motion control products include complete solutions for power conversion, controllers, servos, software and cable harnesses. These products have been used for Super First Class, First Class, and Business Class seating, C-130 sensor deployment, Dash-8 sensor deployment, Optionally Piloted Aircraft flight controls, UAV flight controls. IMS and LSI are also collaborating on “see and avoid” sensor development. Further, the LSI‘s proprietary LiDAR systems are being analyzed for “situational awareness” use and potentially “collision avoidance” maneuvers. IMS is a Transport Canada Certified Aeronautical manufacturing facility. IMS brings two items to the alliance; the optionally piloted Berkut II aircraft and their motion control systems for all aircraft.

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International Conference and Exhibition Humanitarian Assistance and Private Sector

  • Jornada Internacional y Exhibición Asistencia Humanitaria y Sector Privado - Aerovehicles

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3rd Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop 2013

  • Senator Lesil McGuire--Bob Fowler CEO & Co-Founder, Aerovehicles Inc.

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