Goodyear has three iconic airships in the U.S. and a fourth based in Europe. For AirVenture 2021, they had Wingfoot Three stationed at Oshkosh for the entire week, where AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli spent a glorious half day fooling around the airship and interviewing the crew. This video details how the blimps must be tended 24/7/365. You certainly can’t tie it down and go home, even if it’s in the hangar.

16 COMMENTS

  1. What an operation. A bit more labor intensive for an advert I’d say instead of a guy sitting at a computer making the next 30 second commercial for Goodyear. Glad they do it, and fascinating info, thanks Paul.

  2. When I was taking my PPL in Florida at Hollywood North Perry, the FUJI airship was often on the mast at the field. Biggest windsock ever made, nobody ever had a problem with wind direction, you could see the airship for miles on final!

  3. Das gezeigte Luftschiff ist kein Blimp der alten Art, kein reines Prall-Luftschiff, bei dem die ganze Hülle mit Traggas gefüllt ist, sondern ein halbstarres Luftschiff aus deutscher Produktion, ein Zeppelin NT (= Neue Technologie – New Technology). Er hat einen Rahmen aus drei Aluminium-Längsrippen und 12 Kohlefaser-Dreiecken- an denen die Gondel für 12 Passagiere, die zwei Motoren an den Seiten und das Triebwerk am Heck befestigt sind. Im Inneren der von geringem Luft-Überdruck (5 mbar) prall gehaltenen Hülle sind Ballonetts mit 2.200 Kubikmeter Helium für dem Auftrieb untergebracht.

    • [translation] The airship shown is not an old-style blimp, that is, a non-rigid airship in which the entire envelope is filled with lifting gas. It is a semi-rigid airship, German-made, called a Zeppelin NT (New Technology). It has a frame made of three aluminum longitudinal ribs and 12 carbon fiber triangles, on which are hung the 12-passenger gondola, the two side engines, and the stern engine. Inside the shell, which is held taut by a slight 5 mbar (0.07 psi) excess air pressure, there are two ballonets with 2,200 cubic meters (78,000 cubic feet) of helium for buoyancy[sic].

    • It seems to me that the ballonets are filled with air, not helium. Adding air to the ballonets compresses the helium, reducing the bouyancy of the helium cells, and adds air weight to the ship, further reducing net bouyancy. Source: video at 4:28, Wikipedia article “Zeppelin NT”, Wikipedia article “Ballonet”.

      • Well, the ballonets are for buoyancy in the sense they help control it. They play a bigger roll in trim since the ship has to be down by the tail a little when moored so the aft wheel does all the work. They also kind of push the helium around, sort of like dough on baker’s counter, to shape the lift.

  4. Lol! The music under the information slides, from 0:36 to 2:20, is also heard while waiting for British Columbia COVID-19 update press briefings to start. I guess it’s background music licensed from some content library.

  5. The video says the engines are Lycoming IO-360, but I thought I read elsewhere that they were the Continental IO-360. Very different engine. Only thing the same is the displacement and that they’re both fuel injected.

    • Nope, Lycomings. They have some pretty sophisticated gearing, however, which I suspect Zeppelin manufactured or had manufactured.

  6. Paul–you need to jump the blimp–it would look good in your logbook! (laugh) Probably can’t do it in Oshkosh, but you should be able to wangle a jump while the blimp is enroute.

    I own and fly 2 hot air balloons. I wangled a ride at Oshkosh years ago in the Fuji blimp–asked the Captain if he would demonstrate the ballonets–he replied “most people don’t know what those are, let alone how to pronounce it–how would you know? When I told him I was a balloon pilot, he let me fly the right seat–“We get tired flying around the limited area all day–go ahead!

    Unlike the old Goodyear airships, the Fuji blimp had control wheels–the wheel turns the rudder, and controls the elevators. Unlike the old blimps (and like THIS one), it had vectored thrust–a big help in control. We maintained 40 mph groundspeedthe entire time–requiring power adjustments–“no need to go anywhere fast–we want to stay where people read and photograph the sponsor.” The crew allowed me to fly three flights–including the approach (but not landing)–but since it was down to the touchdown of the ground handling lines, I counted it–I only count “flying” an aircraft if I make a takeoff or landing–the lines touching was close enough! In flying the blimp, it completed my quest to fly every category and class of aircraft (“Vectored thrust” has since been added).

    I don’t think I would want a job flying a blimp. Cross country flights are interminable–and as the excellent video demonstrates, crew coordination is a huge undertaking. Winds that wouldn’t be a problem for most light aircraft present a constant threat. The crew is “on the road” and away from home too much–but as the crew mentioned, there is nothing like being able to say “Why, YES, I fly the blimp!” (laugh)

    • “Interminable.” That’s for sure. Back in the 1980s, ATC repeatedly had me use one of Goodyear’s older blimps (while it was flying) as a reporting point.
      I remember circling one during the America’s Cup races out of Newport, as well. Good Times.

  7. “Interminable.” That’s for sure. Back in the 1980s, ATC repeatedly had me use one of Goodyear’s older blimps (while it was flying) as a reporting point.
    I remember circling one during the America’s Cup races out of Newport, as well. Good Times.

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