AKRON, Ohio — Goodyear’s Wingfoot Two blimp has left its nest in the Akron area and is on a cross-country journey to its permanent base near Los Angeles.

The nearly year-old airship – the second of three semi-rigid airships – left the Goodyear blimp hangar outside Akron on Sunday morning, beginning the 2,600-mile trek.

“This is an exciting milestone for Goodyear as we look forward to introducing our new generation of Goodyear blimps to the West Coast and engaging fans along our tour route to create new memories of the Goodyear blimp across America,” Paul Fitzhenry, senior vice president of global communications for the Akron-headquartered tire company, said in a written statement.

The blimp – christened Oct. 21 last year – is expected to arrive in St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon. It has a 26-person crew and a caravan of nine ground vehicles.

Goodyear, celebrating its 100th year of building blimps, is building its third NT, or New Technology, airship inside the Akron-area hangar, which will be that blimp’s permanent base. The company has built more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles for public relations and defense uses.

Purists say the internal skeleton means the new NT airships are not blimps because blimps are basically large helium-filled gas bags – no internal frame – with a gondola attached underneath.


Goodyear, which calls the new airships blimps, notes the new ships are easier to maneuver than the previous ones.

Wingfoot One, the first of the NT blimps, was christened in 2014.

Wingfoot Two’s trip to California will include flights over 10 states and many tour stops. It will end at Long Beach Airport, southeast of the blimp’s West Coast home in Carson, California, by the end of the month.

The blimp will move to Carson before the end of the year, after its new hangar is erected. Previously, blimps had been moored outside at the Carson facility.

The new hangar is an inflatable structure, specially designed to house the new airship. It will be the largest inflatable building in North America, said Priscilla Tasker, a Goodyear airship public relations specialist.

In addition to Indianapolis and St. Louis, key tour stops will include Fayetteville, Arkansas; Lawton, Oklahoma; Lubbock, Texas; Deming, New Mexico; Tucson, Arizona; and Blythe, California. The stop in Lawton Oct. 15-19 will include activities focused on Goodyear’s tire manufacturing plant there.

Goodyear has operated blimps in southern California for more than 90 years and delivered the first-ever live aerial feed to a transcontinental telecast over the 1955 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl. Notable appearances the blimp has made over sports and entertainment events include the 1982 Olympics, 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, multiple Academy Awards red carpet arrivals and the 2015 Special Olympics.

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