By Jim Mackinnon
Goodyear’s newest airship, Wingfoot Three, debuted outdoors on the first day of summer.
The airship, under construction since last year inside the Wingfoot Lake blimp base in Suffield Township, was pulled out of the hangar about 6:15 a.m. Thursday for testing. The blimp was expected to remain outside until about noon before returning to the hangar.
Wingfoot Three remained tethered to its heavy-duty mast truck for the outdoor engine and systems checks.
“Today is a milestone for what later will be November Three Alpha [Wingfoot Three], which will be the call sign for the aircraft,” said Adam Basaran, assistant chief pilot at the Wingfoot Lake base. “It’s its first day out of the hangar. And we’re using today to do engine testing. We’ll be calibrating some of the instrumentation and avionics as well.”
The first flight could take place this weekend. But the forecast as of Thursday called for rain on Friday and Saturday, which would postpone the first flight.
The first flight depends on the weekend weather, Basaran said on Thursday. “The test flight period may last for a few weeks.”
Goodyear on Thursday confirmed this new semi-rigid airship will be called Wingfoot Three. That’s not a surprise – the blimp’s two sister NT, or New Technology, ships are Wingfoot One and Wingfoot Two.
Wingfoot Three’s most noticeable difference from the first two airships are two extra windows at the rear of the gondola that holds the flight crew and passengers.
Wingfoot Three is the third and final NT airship for Goodyear. The NT airships were made by German manufacturer Zeppelin.
The Wingfoot Lake site will be the permanent base for Wingfoot Three, meaning it will be a familiar sight in Northeast Ohio skies. Basaran, who is 37, said he will be flying all three airships, with his home base at Wingfoot Lake.
If all goes well, Wingfoot Three could be put into official service in the next month or two, Basaran said.
Weather conditions Thursday were perfect for Wingfoot Three’s debut, with blue skies and a light breeze. For those of you keeping track, the blimp left the hangar just eight minutes after the summer solstice, also known as the longest day of the year, began at 6:07 a.m.
In case you looked up in Akron-area skies recently and saw a Goodyear blimp, that was Wingfoot One, which first flew in 2014 after being built at Wingfoot Lake. The airship flew here from its Florida home in early June, stayed temporarily at Wingfoot Lake and now is touring elsewhere in the Midwest.
Source: Akron Beacon Journal – Ohio.com