A Goodyear Blimp is any one of a fleet of blimps operated by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for advertising purposes and for use as a television camera platform for aerial views of sporting events. Goodyear began producing airship envelopes in 1911 and introduced its own blimp, The Pilgrim, in 1925.

Today there are three blimps in the fleet in the USA:

  • Spirit of Goodyear, based in Suffield Township, Ohio near Akron
  • Spirit of America, based in Carson, California
  • Spirit of Innovation, based in Pompano Beach, Florida

All three craft are outfitted with LED sign technology Goodyear calls "Eaglevision." This allows the aircraft to display bright, multi-colored, animated words and images.

Goodyear also has blimps operating in other parts of the world. These airships are built and operated by Van Wagner of Orlando, Florida.

In May 2011 Goodyear announced it will be replacing its fleet of blimps with three semi-rigid airships built by Zeppelin NT.

The three modern types of Goodyear blimps, since the 1960s, are: GZ-19, GZ-20 and GZ-22.

The GZ stands for Goodyear-Zeppelin, stemming from the partnership Goodyear had with the German company when both were building airships together. However these three classes came many years after this partnership had dissolved during the start of World War II. The GZ-1 was the USS Akron (ZRS-4), the U.S. Navy's fourth rigid airship used for several tests including as a flying "aircraft carrier".

  • GZ-19: Introduced in 1963 and discontinued in 1978 after the loss of Mayflower (N38A). The design for this class resembles the U.S. Navy's L class blimp.
  • GZ-20: This class is what the current American fleet is composed of. Introduced in 1969, with the America (N10A) and Columbia (N3A) being the first two. This class is slightly longer than GZ-19. However, in 2013 Goodyear will be retiring the GZ-20 and replacing with the Zeppelin NT.
  • GZ-22: The only airship in this class was the Spirit of Akron (N4A). Originally built in 1987 to show the U.S. Department of Defense that airships were still militarily viable, it was the largest and most technically advanced ship Goodyear ever had in its public relations fleet, featuring fly-by-wire technology. However, Spirit was lost in 1999 and the company has not built one since, most likely because of the large expense to build and operate one due to its size and advanced technology.
  • Zeppelin NT: Goodyear confirmed on 3 May 2011, that they will reinstate their long lost partnership with Zeppelin. Goodyear has ordered three Zeppelin NT LZ N07-101 models with plans to commence operation in January 2014.  The Zeppelin NT will be the successor to the current GZ-20 in Goodyear airship advertising.

Historical Classes

  • C-5 (blimp) 1918–1919 – hydrogen variant of C class
  • D class blimp 1920–1924
  • F class blimp/Type FB 1918–1923
  • Goodyear Type AD 1925–1931
  • G class blimp 1935-19?
  • H class blimp 1921–1923
  • J class blimp 1922–1940
  • K class blimp 1938–1959, WWII anti-submarine, post-war tests
    • K-1 (airship) 1938–1940, pre-war experimental
  • L class blimp 1930s–1945, WWII
  • M class blimp 1944–1956
  • N class blimp 1950s–1962
  • Goodyear Duck GA-1/GA-22 seaplane 1944–?
  • Goodyear ZWG 1950s
  • Goodyear Type FD 1919
  • Goodyear Type TZ 1928–?
  • Goodyear Type GZ-19 1963–1978

Source: Wikipedia

Goodyear Blimp Over
Oklahoma - Texas Game
In Cottonbowl, Dallas, Texas
Photo: Robert Deering c1972
David & Duane Deering Watch a Blimp Land
Photo: Robert Deering 1980
Goodyear Base Station
Houston, Texas