We Took a Ride in Goodyear’s Newest, Garmin-Equipped Blimp


Goodyear Blimp Insta FB TW 

Imagine this, cruising above beautiful central Florida at 50 mph and less than 1,000 feet above the ground. No, you didn't misread that, 50 miles per hour and less than 1,000 feet AGL. Can there be a better view? We recently had the unique opportunity to team up with our friends at Goodyear and tag along on a cross-country flight from Winter Haven to Pompano Beach, Florida, on their newest and most innovative NT airship (new technology), 'Wingfoot One'.

Goodyear Blimp Takeoff

Our trip began at Winter Haven's Gilbert Airport where we got our first glimpse of the airship as it was tethered to a ground support vehicle. Just standing next to this ship you get an idea of its size, especially considering it's more than 50 feet longer than its predecessor blimps. Another noticeable feature of this next generation blimp is the location of the engines. On previous models, the engines were stationed on either side of the blimp's gondola, whereas on 'Wingfoot One', the engines are located about one-third the way up the envelope. A semi-rigid internal structure made of aluminum and carbon fiber permits this mounting location, which reduces noise in the gondola to nearly half that of earlier models. A third engine is located on the tail of 'Wingfoot One' giving the new airship a greater than 20 mph max speed advantage over predecessors. All three engines have vectoring capability, which allow the takeoff and landing profiles to be a simple and very controllable ascent/descent – much like a helicopter. As the ground crew released us from the tethering mast, we slowly climbed out of the Winter Haven area and established our cruising speed, altitude and heading toward Pompano Beach.

Wingfoot One Flight Deck

One look at the flight deck and you realize it isn't your grandfather's blimp. A fully glass instrument panel featuring dual G500H flight displays, dual GTN 650 GPS/NAV/COMs and a GMA 350 audio panel give the pilots more information and ease of use than ever before. Behind the scenes is a GDL 88D, our ADS-B In/Out UAT transceiver, providing critical FIS-B weather and TIS-B traffic to the crew. This information is critical in the highly congested areas 'Wingfoot One' operates.

Older model airships have cables and pulleys connecting the flight controls, but this new airship is mostly fly-by-wire technology eliminating the conventional pilot controls. Only a single side-stick in each pilot's station is used to control the pitch, yaw and roll, while engine and vector controls are on the center pedestal. The gondola itself is a roomy upgrade with seating for up to 14 people, compared to seven in the previous models. This allows plenty of space to walk about the cabin and enjoy the scenic low altitude views through the large windows.

Goodyear Blimp Cabin

Our 140 nautical mile journey took us over Lake Okeechobee and Florida swampland for a point-to-point duration of about 3.5 hours of smooth riding and beautiful scenery. However, since the ground crew and equipment is required to land and "dock" the airship, we spent an additional 40 minutes trolling over the Florida beaches waiting for the crew to arrive at the Pompano Beach airport, the winter home for 'Wingfoot One'. A smooth and steady descent to a re-dock with the mast truck and we were once again tethered to the earth. It was an amazing journey, and any chance you have to climb aboard a Goodyear blimp, be sure to take advantage! We would like to extend our special thanks to the entire Goodyear team for allowing us to ride along on this once in a lifetime experience. 


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