Short Final: Blimp Traffic


Several years ago, I was flying into St. Petersburg during the NCAA Final Four. There was quite a bit of traffic and the Goodyear blimp was circling the domed stadium in which the games would be played, about one mile from the field. On the way into Albert Whitted Field, I had the following exchange:

Tower: “7639 Foxtrot. Cleared to land Runway 36.”

Me: “Cleared to land Runway 36. Blimp traffic in sight.”

Tower: “I didn’t call the blimp traffic.”

Me: “I know but I’ve always wanted to say, ‘Blimp traffic in sight.’”

John Moore
Vero Beach, FL

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  1. I was flying into Long Beach CA when I was over Eastern LA basin got a modified clearance to hold at the ILS outer marker. EFC was a couple of minutes after ETA. As I approached the marker and prepared to hold, I asked how long would I hold. They said about 10 minutes. When I asked why, the tower said that the Goodyear Blimp was on an ILS approach and inside the outer marker.

  2. Flying out of Hollywood-North Perry, HWO about 10 years ago, the FUJI blimp was parked at the other end of the airport for quite a few weeks. It was the biggest windsock I have ever seen, and was visible for miles on landing. New had to guess the wind direction!

  3. Back in late 81 I was on a three day corporate trip out to LAX. While visiting my sister, who is a pilot and was a tower controller over at TOA, a gentleman she knew came in to ask if she could fly his C152 while he took some pictures. She was getting ready to work but volunteered me to do it so off we went with him handling the radio and giving me directions to the photo area. After awhile I saw a blimp and said “hey look at that!” He said that was our photo subject and hailed the captain of the Goodyear Blimp “America” over the radio. We flew close passes above, below, and along side the blimp as the captain positioned it for the photos over the Palisades. It still is one of my coolest flights but I never made note of the 152’s N number for my logbook.

  4. Remember studying aircraft right-of-ways in flight training? We learn a lot of stuff and think “We’ll never encounter that”.

    4 days after getting my PPL I had to give right of way to the Goodyear blimp coming into our airspace to dock at KSNS Salinas. Never thought that would happen, then it did. Glad I got that question right on the test.