The airship Wingfoot Two, based at Goodyear’s airship base in Carson since October 26, 2017, replaced the Spirit of Innovation, the last of the model GZ-20 Goodyear blimps,that retired from Carson airship base on March 14, 2017.
Wingfoot Two, launched in 2014 in Ohio, is one of Goodyear’s two newest state-of-the-art Zeppelin NT semi-rigid airships that are larger, faster and more maneuverable than the previous model GZ-20 Goodyear blimps. At 246 feet in length, nearly the length of a football field, the Zeppelin NTs are much larger than older Goodyear airships and slightly longer than Boeing 747 jetliners. Technically, this Goodyear “Blimp” isn’t actually a blimp at all. Blimps have no internal structure, only maintaining their shape when inflated. Zeppelin NTs are constructed around a carbon fiber and aluminum semi-rigid frame that maintains the shape of the airship (with a capacity of 300,000 cubic feet of helium) at all times.
According to Goodyear, a Goodyear blimp, without lifting gas, weighs almost 20,000 lbs. Once inflated with helium, however, and, even accounting for fuel, payload and ballast, it typically weighs 100-200 lbs.
Wingfoot Two makes about 10 flights per day and provides a bird's eye view for television coverage for special events. During daylight hours, it may take Goodyear clients and sales people up for rides. Its gondola can seat up to 14 people. After dark, it dons a 12,384-pixeled, lighted billboard to promote charities or other causes.
According to Here’s Why You Don’t See Blimps Anymore, blimps are one of the rarest types of aircraft to see in the sky. It's estimated that there are only 25 of them flying in the world and only half of these are used for advertising. Blimps are expensive to build and operate and there are relatively few pilots qualified to fly them.
Rides on Wingfoot Two are by invitation only and generally limited to members of the media and corporate trade guests of Goodyear.
In December 2017, Wingfoot Two received a 337-foot-long inflated hangar at its Carson airship base along the I-405 freeway.
1 The car for Columbia (1975) was first used for Enterprise in 1934 and restored as part of Columbia. It is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
2Columbia (VIII) was renamed Eagle and, later, Spirit of America.
3 Spirit of America was christened on September 5, 2002 in a ceremony in Akron, Ohio, by Letitia Driscoll, mother of NYPD Officer Stephen Driscoll, who died in the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
4 Spirit of Innovation, the last of Goodyear's model GZ-20 blimps, was built in Akron in 2006 and operated from Pompano Beach, Florida, from 2006 to 2015, before coming to California.
In 1983, the City of Redondo Beach, located near Goodyear’s airship base in Carson, recognized the Goodyear Airship Columbia as the "Official Bird” of Redondo Beach.
In 1937, Louis C. Vaccaro of Van Nuys, obtained a ticket for a ride on the Goodyear Blimp. He was apparently a good Goodyear tire customer, driving trucks to distribute Los Angeles Times newspapers in the San Fernando Valley. Vaccaro died in 1963, never using the ticket. His daughter, Virgie Kistler of Denver, later discovered the unused ticket in an old desk and passed it on to Vaccaro’s grandson, Curt Kistler, who lived in Orange County. In 1992, Kistler thought it might be worth a try to see if Goodyear's airship base in Carson might still honor the ticket. To his amazement, they were happy to. The company rarely accepts uninvited requests for rides on their airships. However, in this case, they wanted to preserve and frame the 55-year-old ticket at their airship operations office. Goodyear offered Kistler a modern form letter boarding pass, in exchange for his vintage ticket. He accepted and he and several family members and friends enjoyed a 45-minute ride aboard Eagle, then Goodyear’s airship flying out of its Carson base.
-- See Still a Good Year: With 1937 Ride Ticket, Blimp Rises to the Occasion, by Bob Pool, L.A. Times, Sep. 18, 1992.
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