© Goodyear Blimp photos by April Lewis-Bolowich
Since 1925, Goodyear blimps have adorned the skies as very visible corporate icons of the world's largest tire and rubber company that began operations in 1898.
In the 1930s, Goodyear built two giant rigid airships for the Navy. Within their envelopes, they had internal metal frames used to maintain their shape. The aircraft measured more than two football fields in length and needed 6.5 million cubic feet of helium to become airborne at its gross weight of more than 400,000 pounds.
1930 - the Goodyear Blimp Defender at Miami Municipal Airport
Miami Municipal Airport, Miami, FL
The USS Akron and USS Macon were designed as aerial aircraft carriers and could launch and retrieve specially equipped planes while in flight. Although a good concept, sadly, both airships were lost in storms within two years of going into service, effectively ending the era of the rigid airships.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Goodyear built a series of large surveillance airships used to protect merchant fleets along the coast. They also served as early warning radar stations. Some of these airships could stay aloft for more than a week at a time. In fact, an airship of this type still holds the flying endurance record of 11 days in flight. The airship was a Goodyear-built ZPG-2 called the Snow Bird. In March 1957, it flew from Weymouth, Massachusetts, to Europe and Africa and back to Key West, Florida, without refueling or landing.
Today, Goodyear operates three airships in the United States -- the Spirit of America, based in the City of Carson, California; the Spirit of Goodyear, based in Akron, Ohio; and the Spirit of Innovation, based in Pompano Beach, Florida.
© Sunbird Photo by Don Boyd