Goodyear is highlighting another step in the process of building a new fleet of airships at its Wingfoot Lake hangar. Ed Ogden of Goodyear Airship Operations tells AkronNewsNow the media was given a look at the next step in the process of building the first new generation airship today.
Ogden tells AkronNewsNow.com " The envelope is partially hung over the frame itself. Back in March we just showed everyone the beginning of the frame. Now we're showing them the envelope hanging from the ceiling, and being draped over the frame. This is the first time in the Suffield hangar at Wingfoot Lake that an airship has been built with a frame. All the others have been blimps without frames."
Ogden says this is the first Goodyear blimp in more than 50 years to have a frame under the envelope. He says it will allow the airship to be more technologically advanced and will enhance its ability to cover sporting and other events for television.
He says Goodyear hopes to have the first airship ready to fly by early next year.
News Release From The Goodyear Tire And Rubber Company
AKRON, Ohio, July 12, 2013– Goodyear, the best-known tire company in North America, is hard at work on the construction of its newest airship. This week marks an important milestone in the company’s plans to replace its current fleet of blimps as workers install an envelope over the aluminum and carbon fiber framework of the first of its new-design airships. The airships are supplied by German zeppelin manufacturer ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik and being built with Zeppelin and Goodyear teams at Goodyear’s hangar in nearby Suffield.
Compared to the current fleet of Goodyear blimps, the new airship models will be longer, faster and more maneuverable. The envelope being applied to the new airship is made of polyester with a DuPont™ Tedlar® film. As it is stretched over each metal truss, the envelope is attached. When complete, the helium-filled envelope will have a volume of 297,527 cubic feet.
“This is a major project that requires the dedication and skilled handiwork of these combined teams of airship experts. The result will be the only Zeppelin model airship in North America. It represents a strong investment in Goodyear’s airship program, helping to ensure that Goodyear will remain at the forefront of aerial broadcast coverage and support,” said Nancy Ray, Goodyear’s director of Global Airship Operations.
Upcoming construction milestones, according to Ray, include the attachment of the airship’s tail fins and passenger gondola –scheduled to happen this year. In early 2014, key steps will be the crew training, airship certification, installation of the electronic video boards and eventual christening. Goodyear’s blimp fleet generates significant value for the company through visibility at major events, on-camera exposure during television broadcast, tire sales through support of Goodyear dealer and store promotions, and the goodwill generated by support of non-profit and public service programs.
During its long operational history, Goodyear has built and operated more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles since 1917, including two large rigid airships – the U.S.S. Macon and U.S.S. Akron. This is the first semi-rigid airship to be built in the 95-year history of the Wingfoot Lake Hangar.For more than 87 years, the Goodyear blimps have appeared at the most watched news, entertainment and sporting events around the world. The blimps also heavily support local and national charities, and community emergency response programs.
Goodyear owns and operates three airships in the United States.