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Toledo airship innovator hopes for financial lift off

A Wood County native says he has developed a new type of aircraft that may not only revolutionize cargo hauling, but could create a huge new industry for the Toledo area. Robert Rist, the President of Ohio Airships, is confident that his newly developed "Dynalifter" aircraft is ready for lift off, both literally and figuratively.

Rist, a Pemberville native, has not only designed the new half-dirigible, half-airplane, but has built a 120 foot long prototype that now sits in a hangar at Toledo Express Airport as final details are worked out before its maiden flight this spring. The craft looks similar to a blimp, but actually is an airplane with a cockpit, wings and a engine and propeller on the wings. The body or fuselage is supported by a central rigid framework and the outer skin is made of a sail cloth material which would hold a battery of helium cells to give it buoyancy and increase the lift.

Rist and his partners believe this type of aircraft can be used some day to haul massive loads of cargo of all types. Rist has coined it as "roadless trucking", allowing large cargo payloads to be hauled over rough terrains and areas without roads or highways. He says the engineering studies show that a 700 foot model of the aircraft could haul a payload of more than 250 tons; and with a short takeoff and landing zone required, this type of craft could be used for a wide variety of military, commercial and humanitarian applications.

The so-called "roadless trucking" concept is not new. The Defense Department has been attempting to develop similar type aircraft for many years. The concept is also being supported by both the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the Regional Growth Partnership.

David Miller with RGP's Rocket Ventures says they see the craft as viable. The Port Authority is giving the hangar space to Rist for his Dynalifter and is offering Ohio Airships a possible 40 acre site at the airport if they should go into regular production.

Meanwhile Rocket Ventures is helping Rist with some financial needs as he continues to market the concept to what he says is a wide variety of interested potential customers.

If and when the Dynalifter goes into production someday, Rist says he expects it will require at least 200 hundred workers to build and assemble each one.

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