Goodyear tests Its Bigger, Faster Zeppelin ‘Blimp’

It’s a new era for Goodyear’s iconic blimp. You could call it the Age of the Zeppelin. Cue the guitars! The Ohio-based tire and rubber company started testing its next-generation airship last month at Goodyear’s airfield near Akron. Yes, this is an actual Zeppelin airship, made in partnership with the German company that dates to before the infamous Hindenburg disaster. But don’t panic, this new lighter-than-air vehicle is just as safe as its blimp predecessor. It’s filled with helium, not hydrogen like the humongous airship that burned in New Jersey in 1937. Goodyear is finally closing the door on the GZ-20 models, which came off the drawing board 45 years ago. In the coming months, Goodyear plans to train more than 10 pilots to fly the Zeppelin NT. (NT stands for new technology.)
If all goes as planned, we’ll be watching this sleek new silver, yellow and blue airship hovering high above sporting events east of the Rockies this fall.
More amenities on the new Zeppelin. So what’s different about this one? It’s faster, because it has three engines instead of two. It’s bigger. It’s more maneuverable. It can carry more passengers. Oh, yeah, and unlike the old model, this one’s got an onboard restroom. Believe me, I can tell you from experience that will be a relief (literally). Oh, good. Seat belts. The new blimp’s going to have seat belts. The older model didn’t, which shook me up a little when we lifted off at a 25-degree angle with the engines screaming. Behind the scenes as Goodyear preps the new blimp. When Goodyear Capt. Matt Lussier let me briefly fly one of the older blimps over Atlanta on New Year’s Eve, its engines maxed out about 50 mph. Top speed of these Zeppelins: 73 mph, increasing their range and allowing them to take part in more events.

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