This year, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company will begin replacing the current fleet of blimps with new state-of-the-art Goodyear NT (New Technology) airships, the first of which is currently under construction at the Wingfoot Lake Hangar in Akron, Ohio.
Goodyear operates three blimps. The oldest is The Spirit of Goodyear, which was based in Akron until December when it gave up its hangar space for the construction of the new Goodyear NT airship. Nancy Ray, director of Goodyear’s global airship program, said due to winter and the blimp’s retirement the Spirit of Goodyear moved south to Florida in December. It will be decommissioned in the spring of this year.
It is the oldest of the tiremaker’s three U.S.-based blimps and the first to be replaced by the new Goodyear NT. The company is reportedly on schedule with the construction of the new NT airship and it should be ready for test flights in the spring of 2014.
During its long operational history, Goodyear has built and operated more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles since 1917, including two large rigid airships – the U.S.S. Macon and U.S.S. Akron. The Goodyear NT is the first semi-rigid airship to be built in the 95-year history of the Wingfoot Lake Hangar.