Growing up in the Akron-Canton area in northeast Ohio, the Goodyear Blimp was a common sight. But for me the blimp holds a VERY special place in my heart, not only because I used to see it floating around the sky from time to time. But because my grandfather, Don Block, spent his ENTIRE working career as an Airship Engineer for Goodyear Aircraft.
As a former WWII B-26 Pilot (read more about that here) , his love for aviation easily translated to the work force. His Goodyear endeavor began in 1947 with his hand in the design of the blimps that have been in use over the last four decades for Goodyear!
Earlier today his son, Jim (my uncle) and him were invited by Goodyear to witness first hand the inaugural test flight of the brand new airship! Since his retirement, his friends at Goodyear have kept in close contact with him in a consulting role which he still continues to this day (he will be 90 years old this summer)! The new blimp is about 50 feet longer than the older version at 246 feet and has a top speed of about 73 mph about 20 mph faster than before.
Although the new blimp may look very similar to older versions, it is very different in its design. The older blimps had no internal structure to them inside the envelope, just helium. This one has internal structure, it is considered a “semi-rigid” aircraft. For a comparison you can check out all the specs here
Unlike its predecessors, the new blimp design has much more control over its landing. Before when the blimp used to land it would take a crew of people on the ground to guide it to land. The new version has much more control and can land without a crew on the ground.
The new blimp has yet to get its name, Goodyear is hosting a contest to name the new airship in which someone will win the ultimate blimp experience. For more information click here
We don’t get to see the blimp very often here in West Central Ohio, but whenever it flies over head and we get pictures of it from viewers it always brings a big smile to my face!