The Spirit of America blimp covers more than 80 events a year, from professional and college sporting events to the Oscar and Emmy awards. Goodyear has barter arrangements with broadcasters, trading the use of the blimp for aerial footage in return for on-air commercial spots. The most difficult events to fly over for the blimp pilots are golf tournaments. The players don’t like the shadow the airship casts over the golf green and the sound of the engines. Photo: Saul Gonzalez
Personally, I think you have to be a pretty hard person not to be a little enchanted by the sight of a blimp or dirigible floating in the sky. In an age when air travel has become ho-hum and associated with annoyance and aggravation, blimps harken back to a more romantic era of flight, when breaking the bonds of earth was nothing short of astonishing.
So you could see why I jumped at a chance to do a story about the Goodyear blimp, probably the best known aircraft in the skies of Southern California. After all, who hasn’t seen the airship hovering over everything from a Dodgers game to the Academy Awards. The airship is about as L.A. as palm trees, the beach, and Sunset Boulevard.
Other than knowing that it was filled with helium, I was pretty clueless about the Goodyear blimp before arriving at its Carson airfield for a visit and flight. How fast and high can it travel? How does flying it compare to an airplane or helicopter? And why does a company best known for making tires want to have anything to do with a blimp in the first place?
I got answers to those questions and others. Listen below:
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