AKRON (April 25, 2016) — Goodyear recently unveiled its newest airship, Wingfoot Two, which is bigger than most of the blimps the tire maker has built in the past.
Wingfoot Two is the second of a new class of blimps the company has been building, beginning with Wingfoot One, which also was built at the company's air dock on the shore of Wingfoot Lake east of Akron.
The new blimps, at 246 feet, are 52 feet longer than the former “Spirit” airships that represent Goodyear's last airship design, a company spokesman said.
This new breed of airship is also faster — they can cruise at about 53 mph, compared with about 35 for the older ships — and can carry more passengers. The gondolas on the new blimps comfortably seat 12 people, according to the company, vs. six passenger seats on the older Spirit of America and Spirit of Innovation blimps, which remain in service.
“It's kind of like being on a boat in the air, like floating on air,” the spokesman said.
Top speed is about 75 mph, but that is highly dependent on the prevailing winds. The airships, which are often used in fly-overs at athletic events, have little difficulty covering 300 miles without landing.
“We can be at a Notre Dame game in a day, and in Chicago in two days,” the spokesman said.
The airship also is more maneuverable, with vectored engines that can be aimed in a variety of directions to improve the blimp's hovering ability. The new blimps have three engines, instead of two like before.
Wingfoot Two will remain in Akron for about a year before heading to its permanent assignment in California. Wingfoot One will operate out of Goodyear's third airbase, in Florida.
Akron, however, will not be without a blimp. Goodyear plans to build a third new airship in the city, and it will be ready to fly about the time that Wingfoot Two heads west, the spokesman said.
This report appeared in Crain's Cleveland Business magazine, a sister publication of Tire Business.