By Jim Mackinnon
Goodyear blimps …
When to see the tandem flights (times approximate):
- Friday: 2 to 4 p.m. The airships will fly over Goodyear’s headquarters, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and Stan Hywet.
- Monday: 4 to 6 p.m. The airships will fly over some Akron public schools, Goodyear’s corporate headquarters and then the LeBron James Family Foundation.
How to tell the two apart:
- Wingfoot One is larger. It has three engines, one at the rear. Its gondola sits forward under the envelope. It has three tail fins.
- The Spirit of Innovation has two engines attached to the gondola, which is centered under the envelope. It has four tail fins.
The last days are here to see an “old school” Goodyear blimp in Northeast Ohio skies, perhaps forever.
In less than a week, Goodyear’s Spirit of Innovation blimp — the last of the Akron tire maker’s GZ-20A models — will fly from its temporary home in Suffield Township to its new base in California. Its sister GZ-20 ship, the Spirit of America, was officially decommissioned last week in the West Coast state.
The Spirit of Innovation and Goodyear’s new high-tech, semi-rigid airship, Wingfoot One, will make tandem flights Friday and again Monday over the Akron area. The two last flew together over the weekend.
“This is probably the last time to see a 20 model and the new model together,” said Doug Grassian, spokesman for Goodyear’s blimp fleet.
The Spirit of Innovation will leave Wednesday on a three-week trip that will take it to California.
Wingfoot One, in turn, is scheduled to leave from the Suffield Township blimp base on Sept. 30 for its permanent base in Florida. A new semi-rigid airship identical to Wingfoot One is now being built at the base and likely will take its first flight in early March.
The GZ-20 model is considered a true blimp — there is no internal supporting framework, simply a large helium-filled bag and a gondola strapped on underneath. The design dates back to the late 1960s.
Wingfoot One, which first flew in March 2014, is a Zeppelin NT (New Technology) airship. It has a lightweight aluminum and carbon fiber frame and modern technology. The German design dates back to the late 1990s.
The Spirit of Innovation first flew in 2006. It was based in Pompano Beach, Fla., before returning to Ohio this year as part of Goodyear’s reshuffling of its blimp fleet.
Source: Akron Beacon Journal – ohio.com