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I read this years ago. A scout in spherical advanced ship lands on a planet. Natives are friendly, but the shaman perceives competition, and sneaks into the craft and scatters potions on the controls, their acid eating into plastics and metals. He can be rescued at the other side of planet, but he has a deadline. Eventually all make airship and he makes it.

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The Flying Sorcerors by Niven and Gerrold is a humorous novel which has many elements in common with your description. One of the characters is a thinly disguised Isaac Asimov who conflicts with the native sorcerer for prestige. The native "magic" is based on potions, corrosive liquids, use of native animals, etc. His ship is destroyed in the conflict, and they do end up constructing an airship.

His egg-shaped (close to spherical!) spaceship is shown on this cover.

enter image description here

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    I remember Willville and Orbur, and their adventures with "Purple"
    – pojo-guy
    Mar 4, 2018 at 2:52
  • That's it! Fast answer. Loaned it to someone long since forgotten and never saw it again. Thank you.
    – MikeB
    Mar 4, 2018 at 5:24
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    @MikeB You seem to have created a new account here which is different from your original account. Please consider following these instructions to merge your accounts so that you can regain access to the original account and accept this answer to mark it as correct. Thanks, and glad we could help you find your answer! :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 4, 2018 at 14:17
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    And Caff, the goddess of dragons...
    – DJohnM
    Dec 20, 2018 at 3:08
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    Complete list found (where else?) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flying_Sorcerers
    – DJohnM
    Dec 20, 2018 at 3:11

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