First Flight For New Goodyear Airship
Goodyear officially launched its newest blimp over the weekend, with a christening ceremony and a ceremonial flight from its base in Akron, Ohio. The airship, built from aluminum and carbon fiber, is the first of a new generation of blimps built for Goodyear by the Zeppelin factory in Germany. The former blimp fleet recalled Goodyear's heritage, with traditional controls including a ship-like wheel to control the elevator. The Zeppelins are larger -- about 250 feet long -- and use fly-by-wire controls and swiveling engines for precise maneuvering. Goodyear will add two more new Zeppelins to its fleet over the next four years, as the older blimps are retired.
Goodyear invited ABC News reporter Robin Roberts to christen the airship "Wingfoot One" before Saturday's flight. Roberts said her great-grandfather moved to Akron in 1918 to take a job with Goodyear. The company has built and operated more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles since 1917. AVweb's Mary Grady flew a similar Zeppelin airship in 2009, in Long Beach, California, during a pilot demo day. That operation folded in 2012 and the airship was returned to Germany.