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The Goodyear Blimp

Goodyear Blimp Spirit of Innovation, having operated from Carson, California, 2015-2017. Photo courtesy of w:en:Hughs (own work) and Wikimedia Creative Commons.

The airship Spirit of Innovation is Goodyear’s oldest of their three operating airships and the eighth, since 1929, to operate from California. It was the first of Goodyear’s blimps to be named by the public by means of a web-based "Name-the-Blimp" contest. Christened on June 21, 2006, in a ceremony in Akron, Ohio, it is the last of the balloon-like blimps deployed by Goodyear. It was based in Pompano Beach, Florida, until it transferred to Carson in 2015 to replace the retiring Spirit of America.

Spirit of Innovation is based at Goodyear’s airship station in Carson but flies out to events throughout the western U.S. The airship has a crew of one pilot and up to five passengers.

Spirit of Innovation is a GZ-20A type blimp that measures 192 feet long, 50 feet wide, 59.5 feet high, and is powered by two 210-horsepower engines. It has a volume of 202,700 cubic feet. It normally cruises at 30 mph, although it can attain a top speed of 50 mph. The airship normally operates at an altitude of 1,000 to 3,000 feet. It has a maximum operating altitude of 10,000, but, because helium-filled airships do not agree with high altitudes, itrarely flies above 5,000 feet. This explains why its sister predescessor, Spirit of America, was unlikely to been seen at Colorado events. The airship provides a bird's eye view for television coverage for special events and also provides a community service message board on its night signs.

The makes about 10 flights per day. The airship provides a bird's eye view for television coverage for special events. During daylight hours, it may take Goodyear clients and sales people for 45-minute rides. After dark, it will don its lighted billboard (165,000 LED's with more than 256 colors) to promote charities or other causes.

Rides on the Spirit of Innovation are by invitation only and generally limited to members of the media and corporate trade guests of Goodyear.

Spirit of Innovation , retired on March 14, 2017, and the last of Goodyear's model GZ-20 blimps, is scheduled to be replaced by the newer airship Wingfoot Two, launched in 2014 and currently based in Suffield, Ohio. Wingfoot Two is one of Goodyear’s two state-of-the-art Zeppelin NT semi-rigid airships that are larger, faster and more maneuverable. At 246 feet in length, the Zeppelin NTs are much larger than previous Goodyear airships and slightly longer than Boeing 747 jetliners. Technically, this Goodyear “Blimp” won’t be a blimp at all because blimps have no internal structure, only maintaining their shape when inflated. The new Zeppelin NTs are constructed around semi-rigid frames that maintain the shape of the airship at all times.

Goodyear Airships Based in Los Angeles Area

  • Volunteer (I and II), 1929
  • Volunteer (III), 1931
  • Resolute (I and II), 1932
  • Columbia (II, III, IV), 1963-1969
  • Columbia (V), 1969-1975
  • Columbia1 (VI and VII), 1975-1986
  • Columbia2 (VIII), 1986-1992; renamed Eagle 1992-2002; renamed Spirit of America3, 2002-2015
  • Spirit of Innovation4, 2015-2017

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, California, located near Goodyear’s airship base in Carson, recognized the Goodyear Airship Columbia as the "Official Bird” of Redondo Beach.

See Goodyear Blimps