Last July, we first heard about Goodyear’s plans to replace its current fleet of blimps with newer, more advanced models. The first of those airships, which was unnamed at the time, made its maiden flight this March. Now called Wingfoot One, it officially began active service last Friday.
The airship was christened in front of an audience of over 2,000 by Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake Hangar in Suffield, Ohio. Roberts’ great-grandfather worked for Goodyear, starting in 1918.
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Wingfoot One was designed and built by Germany’s ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, and was assembled by a team of Zeppelin and Goodyear engineers over the past year. Among its touted features are advanced on-board avionics, and flight control systems that allow it to travel at faster speeds and hover in place.
The airship now joins Goodyear’s existing fleet, which consists of two of the smaller 45 year-old GZ-20 models. Plans call for these to be replaced by two more new Zeppelins, over the course of the next four years.
The name "Wingfoot One" was the winning entry in an online Name the Blimp contest. According to Goodyear, the introduction of the aircraft marks "the first major structural design change of a Goodyear airship in nearly 70 years."