Blimp makes a Snowbird trip


Ground crew members of the “Spirit of Goodyear” help steady the blimp after it landed in Suffield Township on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. Photo by Brian Smith.

Brian Smith

The floating landmark that has drifted in the skies over Kent and much of the surrounding states for the last 13 years is retiring. The “Spirit of Goodyear” will start making a one-way flight to Pompano Beach, Fla. on Friday.

“Like the snowbirds heading south, it will be heading south for the winter,” Goodyear blimp pilot Greg Poppenhouse said about the teenage dirigible. “The main reason for that is we are building our new airship that is replacing the ‘Spirit of Goodyear,’ and we don’t have enough room in our hangar for both.”

The new airship is being constructed in Suffield Township at the Goodyear Blimp base at Wingfoot Lake. The base is one of three bases across the nation that the trademark airships call home.

The “Spirit of Goodyear” is a very physical craft to fly. While built in 2000 the technology dates back to the 1930s. “You have the rudder pedals and elevator wheel. It’s basically all physical; it’s a cable that runs to the flight controls,” Poppenhouse said. “Where our new one is all fly-by-wire. I have a joystick, and that controls my pitch, my lateral movement.”

Flying the yet-to-be-named airship will be an all-new experience for blimp crews. It will be like going from a Piper club to a Lear Jet,” Poppenhouse said. The new craft will debut by Spring 2014.

Contact Brian Smith at [email protected].