The Goodyear Tire Company's airship history begins in the early 20s?
with the Zeppelin-Goodyear company, which built the large rigids Akron
and Macon for the the U.S. Navy. But Goodyear's legendary reputation in
lighter-than-air stems from the construction of hundreds of blimps
for the U.S. Navy, which were used to protect allied vessels from
attack by German submarines during WWII. (To learn more about Goodyear
military blimps see the
Airship Picture Book.)
Goodyear also pionnered the use of advertising blimps. In 1925, the
"Pilgrim" was the first Goodyear blimp to fly a civil advertising mission.
Since that time the company has maintained a blimp fleet ranging from as
little as one? to seven airships today. It is noteworthy
that Goodyear has not had a single fatal accident in civil operations
during its 80 plus years of airship activities.
Today, Goodyear's airship activity is limited to an extensive blimp
advertising program that spans three continents.
During the 1980s, while the US Navy was considering the re-introcution
of airships into its program, the Loral Coporation bought the
rights to all of Goodyear Aerospace's airship designs. When the
US Navy canceled the airship research program in 1992?, Loral lost
interest. The type-certificates for the GZ-20 and GZ-22
designs were then sold to Lockheed-Martin, which still holds
them as of November 1998.
The Goodyear GZ-22 Spirit of Akron, based at Wingfoot Lake near
(Image courtesy of
Today, the only "real" Goodyear blimps are the three advertising blimps
operated by the company in the United States. The other four, two in South
America and two in Europe, are built by the
American Blimp Corporation
and operated by the
The "Spirit of Akron", of the newer GZ-22 design,
was built and first flown in 1987 and is based at the original
Wingfoot Lake airship base near Akron, Ohio. The other two US ships, the
"Eagle" and the "Stars & Stripes", of the
GZ-20 type and basically refurbished K-Class models from WWII,
are based in
California and in Pompano Beach, Florida respectivley.
As of late 1998, Goodyear has also contracted a
thermal airship in Mexico, a Lightship A-60+ "Spirit of the
Americas" in Brazil, and two Lightships, named "Spirit of Europe
One" and "Two" respectively, on European territory.
For further information please visit the official