Greenpeace Flies Gas-Powered Blimp Over Billings

Greenpeace's A.E. Bates Thermal Airship at the Magic City Hot Air Balloon Rally in Billings (photo courtesy of

Billings residents were treated to the sight of a large airship carrying the message “Stop dirty coal exports” and “Keep our coal in the ground” flying over the city last weekend. While the blimp carried an anti-fossil fuel message, its engines burned aviation gasoline and its burners used propane.

The blimp — formally called the A.E. Bates Thermal Airship — has been owned and flown by the radical environmentalist group Greenpeace since 2010 and often carries warnings about fossil fuels destroying the planet and causing man-made climate change. The blimp was in Billings as part of the Magic City Hot Air Balloon Rally, and to protest the Bureau of Land Management’s ongoing coal leasing programs in Montana and Wyoming.

“Climate change is already disrupting our communities, from record droughts to increased wildfires, and more coal will only make it worse whether it is burned in Montana or Beijing,” said Greenpeace Energy Campaign Director Kelly Mitchell in a press release.

“Instead of giving away our coal for one dollar a ton, Interior Secretary Jewell should establish a moratorium on new coal leases and pursue comprehensive reform of the federal coal leasing program,” Mitchell added.

Although Greenpeace warns constantly that fossil fuels like coal are contributing to “climate change,” Media Trackers has discovered that the group’s advertising blimp is powered by fossil fuel.

Greenpeace discusses the blimp’s specifications on its website and calls it “Greenpeace’s latest tool for protecting our planet”, though it does not give the blimp’s fuel source. However, the page does state that the blimp uses a Rotax 65 HP aircraft engine, and two “Shadow burners” manufactured by Cameron Balloons.

According to Rotax’s website, the engine is two-stroke and uses a type of high-octane gasoline for fuel. All of Cameron Balloons’ burners use propane to heat the air in the balloon and provide lift, which is typical for hot-air balloons and airships.

Greenpeace has long opposed any new oil and gas drilling, and supports radically altering the current energy economy, though they are apparently willing to use large amounts of gasoline and propane to fly their blimp all over the country spreading an anti-fossil fuel message.

“Fossil fuels also account for more than 80% of US global warming pollution,” Greenpeace states on its website. “Global warming, if unchecked, threatens to fundamentally change the planet that has sustained our civilization.”

Blaming local weather on man-made “climate change” as environmentalists often do, Greenpeace insists “we’re already seeing some of the effects—wildfires tearing through western states, devastating floods in the midwest, and historic droughts in the southeast.”

Greenpeace Communications Director  Joe Smyth did not return Media Trackers’ phone calls or emails for comment.