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Goodyear unveils blimp, kicks off naming contest

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SUFFIELD, Ohio—Goodyear unveiled its new blimp on March 14 during a media day at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield.

Goodyear officials said the new airship is larger, faster and more maneuverable than previous airships. It is scheduled to begin test flights over Northeast Ohio later this month before going into service in the summer.

“The completion of the new blimp marks the beginning of a new era for our airship program and reflects Goodyear’s commitment to remaining at the forefront of aerial broadcast coverage and support,” said Paul Fitzhenry, senior vice president, global communications.

“This airship will offer enhanced aerial television coverage capabilities, increased flight range to cover more events and an unparalleled passenger experience.”

The Akron-based tire manufacturer is inviting the public to participate in a Goodyear “Name the Blimp” contest. Entrants over 18 years of age in the U.S. may submit a name for the new blimp by visiting www.Goodyear.com/NametheBlimp or www.Facebook.com/GoodyearBlimp.

A look at the inside of the new Goodyear blimp.
Photo by RPN photo by Jennifer Karpus A look at the inside of the new Goodyear blimp.

One name will be chosen from the entries, Goodyear said, and the winner will join the Goodyear Blimp for a day of airship activities. In addition, nine runners-up will receive a set of Goodyear tires. The contest runs through April 4.

Goodyear said this will be the second blimp in history to get its name from a consumer naming contest. The first contest was held in 2006 and featured more than 20,000 unique names. The winning name, Spirit of Innovation, was given to the airship that now operates from Pompano Beach, Fla.

Full contest rules, format and entry form can be found at www.Goodyear.com/NametheBlimp.

Goodyear said assembly of the new blimp began in March 2013, at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake hangar, where an international team of engineers and technicians from Goodyear and Germany’s ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik worked side by side to complete the project.

The new Goodyear blimp.
Photo by RPN photo by Jennifer Karpus The new Goodyear blimp.

Parts such as the tail fins and gondola were built in Germany and shipped to the U.S. for assembly. The balloon-like body of the airship—the envelope—is made of polyester with an film from DuPont called Tedlar, surrounding a semi-rigid internal structure, which differentiates this airship from previous Goodyear blimps.

The new helium-filled airship is 246 feet long, Goodyear said, more than 50 feet longer than previous blimps. The blimp features a new paint scheme while retaining Goodyear’s logo and traditional blue and yellow branding on a silver envelope. The gondola can seat up to 12 and has improved viewing through larger, wrap-around windows.