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New Goodyear Blimp Takes First Flight

March 18, 2014 – The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s newest blimp took to the skies Monday for its maiden flight. The test flight is part of a comprehensive training program Goodyear pilots and crew will undergo over the next two months.

The new blimp will officially be ready to begin travelling to cities around the United States after a formal christening ceremony this summer. 

The blimp is an all-new, state-of-the-art version that is larger, faster, more maneuverable than previous models, and builds on the company’s legacy as the world’s leading builder and operator of airships. The blimp’s speed was on display Monday as the ship, aided by a tail wind, eclipsed 80 miles per hour. 


“The completion of the new blimp marks the beginning of a new era for our airship program and reflects Goodyear’s commitment to remaining at the forefront of aerial broadcast coverage and support,” said Paul Fitzhenry, senior vice president, global communications. “This airship will offer enhanced aerial television coverage capabilities, increased flight range to cover more events and an unparalleled passenger experience.” 

Assembly of the new blimp began in March 2013 at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake hangar.  An international team of engineers and technicians from Goodyear and Germany’s ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik worked side by side to complete the build project. 

Parts such as the tail fins and gondola were built in Germany and shipped to the U.S. for assembly. The balloon-like body of the airship the “envelope” is made of polyester with an innovative film from DuPont called Tedlar, surrounding a semi-rigid internal structure, which differentiates this airship from previous Goodyear blimps.



This airship is the first of a new generation of Goodyear blimps that will be different in construction, appearance, and operation than the current fleet of blimps. The new helium-filled airship is 246 feet long, more than 50 feet longer than the previous blimps and just 18 yards shorter than an American football field. The blimp features a new paint scheme while retaining Goodyear’s logo and traditional blue and yellow branding on a silver envelope. 

The gondola delivers an unparalleled passenger experience with seating for up to 12 passengers and with improved viewing through larger, wrap-around windows, providing sweeping panoramic views. In addition, a new interior and seating will add to the ride’s comfort. 

The new airship incorporates the latest in on-board avionics and flight control systems. Whereas pilots of the previous generation of blimps controlled the airships’ movements with a manual flight system in use since 1925, the new ship features custom computer-controlled avionics.  Electronic controls work in conjunction with an on-board computer to regulate engine thrust, up-and-down movement, and right-and-left movement. Tail fin operation will be controlled by a joystick device. These advancements result in more precise operation of the airship while in flight, on landing, and on take off. In addition, the new airship has a top speed of 73 miles per hour, compared to the current maximum of approximately 50 miles per hour giving the blimp greater range to cover more events. 

In February, after 14 years of filling the skies, the longest continuous operated airship, the “Spirit of Goodyear” airship retired after the Daytona 500. “The ‘Spirit of Goodyear’ has provided captivating aerial coverage of the biggest televised events in its 14-year history including many prominent NASCAR races,” said Paul Fitzhenry, senior vice president, global communications. “Sports fans around the globe have seen the ‘Spirit of Goodyear’s’ aerial coverage and Daytona was an ideal venue to recognize those contributions.”

Goodyear has not yet nemed its new ship and is inviting the public to participate in a Goodyear “Name the Blimp” contest.  One name will be chosen from the entries and the contest winner will join the Goodyear Blimp for a day of airship activities.
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