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A look back at and inside the Goodyear Blimp

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
In this article:
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It's not just all about the innovative tires, etched in the history books of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (GT) is none other than its iconic Goodyear Blimp, which Yahoo Finance recently caught a ride in.

In the early 1900s, Goodyear entered the aircraft and lighter-than-air balloon industries. That led to the development of the company’s first balloon in 1912. The company then began flying balloons in national and international competitions.

In 1917, Goodyear started making airships (the founding father of today’s blimps) for the U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, in 1919 Goodyear was flying an open air cockpit blimp with onlookers gawking down below. By the Roaring ‘20s, Goodyear Blimps became a mainstay in the sky, from Ohio (Goodyear’s home state) to Florida.

Built in 1925, the first Goodyear Blimp used for commercial purposes was produced. Dubbed the Pilgrim, the airship was the first one in non-rigid form to use helium. By 1930, the Defender blimp was released. Its claim to fame: It was the first airship to carry a lighted sign.

In the 1940s, the innovation inside the Goodyear Blimp began to ascend, yet again. The Reliance, Ranger and Resolute hit the air in 1940. They were the first to be equipped with a record player, microphone and loudspeaker so they could “blimp cast” as Goodyear calls it from the blimp.

Another big moment for the Goodyear Blimp came on Jan. 1, 1955. That was when the Enterprise V became the first aerial platform to broadcast on live TV the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

LESCE, SLOVENIA - 2021/07/21: The Goodyear Blimp flies over the countryside near Lesce, Slovenia.
The Goodyear Blimp visited Slovenia as part of a promotional tour, offering flights for prearranged groups. (Photo by Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The Goodyear Blimp flies over the countryside near Lesce, Slovenia. The Goodyear Blimp visited Slovenia as part of a promotional tour, offering flights for prearranged groups. (Photo by Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In the 1960s, the Goodyear Blimp received an incandescent sign on the outside. It also started to hover over major sporting events, with even larger blimps. In 1963, there was the Mayflower VI stretching to 147 feet in length. The first Super Bowl was played on Jan. 15, 1967 and the Goodyear Blimp was there to provide live aerial views.

Through the years, the Goodyear Blimp continues to receive various technological advancements and flies over more sporting events. Today, the Goodyear Blimp is as fascinating to see and ride in as Yahoo Finance learned firsthand.

The blimp ride

Riding in the blimp is a somewhat surreal experience. First, it’s a bit tough to board as it’s basically a hot air balloon that moves around in even the slightest of windy conditions. Once aboard with the help of a well-trained crew, you find a seat out of the eight or so on board and strap in just like you would in an airplane. The blimp isn’t pressurized and hence, has no air conditioner so it does get warm inside.

Jerry Hissem has been flying for Goodyear Blimp for more than 23 years. [Credit: Yahoo Finance]
Jerry Hissem has been flying for Goodyear Blimp for more than 23 years. [Credit: Yahoo Finance]

Once reaching a cruising height of 1,500 feet, you can see awesome images of the surrounding landscape and get to open a window to let in some cool air. You can also walk around carefully on the blimp while holding a yellow railing on the blimp’s roof.

After an hour in the blimp, it’s time to descend. The blimp lands rather effortlessly, and a series of crew members tie it down for stability. Another group of visitors quickly aboard, and the Yahoo Finance team exits off of the blimp into a safe distance, in search of its next expedition.

Read also: Goodyear CEO on getting back to pre-pandemic levels: People are 'replacing tires right now'

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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