On October 8th, 2013, Akron, Ohio lost another hometown legend to southern Florida. The Spirit of Goodyear took its talents to Pompano Beach to spend its final months in the sunny ocean breeze before being permanently retired and decommissioned. Unlike other Akron-abandoning stories, however, this one ends on a much happier note.
The purpose of The Spirit of Goodyear’s relocation was to allow plenty of room in the massive blimp hangar for the year-long construction of the innovative replacement airship: the Goodyear NT. This new airship is the first of its kind in the United States and marks the beginning of the entire Goodyear blimp fleet’s transformation.
Comparing the blimps side-by-side, the NT is: bigger, faster, quieter, and has the capacity to hold more passengers (that’s excellent news for me!) than the former dirigible.
- Length – old: 192ft
- Length – new: 246.4ft
- Width – old: 50ft
- Width – new: 64.79ft
- Envelope Volume – old: 202,700ft3
- Envelope Volume – new: 297,527ft3
- Max Speed – old: 50mph
- Max Speed – new: 73mph
- Gondola Seating – old: 7
- Gondola Seating – new: configurable up to 12(!) + 2 crew
- Decibels (inside/outside cabin) – old: 110/110
- Decibels (inside/outside cabin) – new: 64/69.4
And despite its notably larger size, the Goodyear NT is also more maneuverable than the Spirit of Goodyear.
The newly built, never before seen Goodyear NT made its debut to the public and to the skies above Akron on March 18, 2014, marking the much anticipated conclusion to the city of Akron’s five month long blimp dry-spell. On its virgin flight, the Goodyear NT reached a top speed of 80mph, though that’s largely attributed to the strong headwinds on that day. The first two months of its existence will be spent performing training operations for blimp pilots so passenger rides are currently unavailable.
Goodyear has yet to name the new blimp; however, it gave blimp fans across the world the chance make history in helping them settle on a name. The company hosted a “Name the Blimp” contest last month in which participants were given the opportunity to submit their best name suggestion. The contest deadline has passed, but Goodyear is inviting the public to vote for their favorite name of the top ten submitted (listed on their website) through noon ET, May 9, 2014.
Akron residents keep your eyes to the skies and consider yourselves lucky as you are among the first people in the country to be able to witness firsthand the next generation in airship history.