Akron symbol retires — to Florida

November 10, 2013 by  

The Goodyear blimp the Spirit of Goodyear, which has been flying from a facility in Akron for years, is retiring—and moving to Florida.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which is based in Akron, sent the blimp on farewell flights over the city October 9 and 10, its light board programmed with messages to the city’s residents. It took the long way down to its new home, flying over college football games in Pennsylvania and North Carolina on its way south.

The Spirit of Goodyear, which was based in Suffield Township, moved to Goodyear’s Pompano Beach airdock, where another blimp, the Spirit of Innovation, is also housed. The Spirit of Goodyear is nearly 14 years old, and will continue to fly until sometime next year when it will be decommissioned. Goodyear plans to replace all three of its blimps over the next few years.

Doug Grassian, spokesman for the company (and the blimp) noted NASA astronaut Sally Ride was the one to commission the Spirit of Goodyear in March 2000. The airship has logged more hours than most blimps of its design.

The blimps will be replaced by three internal-frame zeppelins, the first of which is now being built at Wingfoot Lake Airdock, the Spirit of Goodyear’s previous base. The new airship is designated Goodyear Zeppelin NT, but has not yet been named. The NT merely means “new technology”. The first flight of the new aircraft is expected in March 2014.

Goodyear could work with a poster printing company to design posters of the new airship, both to put in windows around the city and perhaps to sell as part of a merchandising campaign.