Today’s Celebrity Sighting

I just looked up on the way down the road to do some errands, and there it was: the Goodyear blimp. Why is it there? I surmise because this weekend is the Dayton Air Show, which is actually a pretty big deal as these things go; it was off to do a circuit or two for the fans. Bradford just happens to be along the way. It’s goofy, but I actually did smile when I saw it. I wonder what it would have been like to have lived in a world where blimps and dirigibles were actually commonplace and not just an occasional surprise in one’s sky. Maybe we’ll get there one day. In the meantime: Look! A blimp!

— JS

31 Comments on “Today’s Celebrity Sighting”

  1. It’s hard to believe that it just took one accident, the HINDENBERG exploding as it docked, to completely destroy lighter-than-air travel.

    OTOH, it makes it easy to tell people they’re not in our Universe any more if they see Zepplins and dirigibles all over the sky!

  2. A blimp you say? Have you considered it is a disguised Chinese blimp attempting to steal your literary secrets?😀

  3. LTA Galactic has or had a plan to use the Akron Airdock. We used to see the LTA Research and Exploration ships in Silicon Valley (it’s a Sergey Brin project); there’s a suitable hangar at Ames.

  4. You’re not a sports fan IIRC. One thing about being one is that we get to see it if our games are important enough. (“And here’s the view from the Goodyear Blimp…”)

    Always warmed my heart to see that above a game I was at. I went to Michigan (GO BLUE), so this happened a few times.

  5. There are companies working on bringing them back for cargo purposes. Loads that need to be move inland that are awkward for ground transport, you get the idea.

  6. Several years ago, I working in the yard and heard a noise. I looked up to see one the Goodyear blimps right about me, basically low enough to cover much of the sky. It was very impressive.

    (Portland International Raceway–PIR–is about three miles from our house, and I’m sure the blimp was in town to cover the Indy-car race going on that day.)

  7. I’m lucky enough to live in SoCal near a blimp hanger, so I see the Goodyear blimp all the time. My spouse was born and raised here, and won a ride on the blimp when he was in elementary school. It was a prize for drawing the best map of his neighborhood. He still remembers that ride vividly, more than 50 years later!

  8. We live about 8 miles from the West Coast landing/tethering site for the local GY blimp. We see it overhead several times a month, and of course every time we drive by. It’s easily visible off the 405 freeway on the way to LA. Sometimes at night, it’ll be heading for the (figurative) barn over our heads, and hear the distinctive sound of the engines pushing it along.

    You’d be surprised how many smaller commercial blimps there are out here. Many of them visit or are based at the Long Beach airport, very near us. There are also a couple of services running those small-airplane pulled banners at LGB, so our sky can be very busy.

  9. Anybody interested in random nonfiction reading on the topic might enjoy Christopher Sprigg’s The Airship: Its Design, History, Operation, and Future, written in . . . 1931. It’s sort of inadvertently hilarious, as Sprigg opines that pressure airships (blimps) will soon be extinct and aeroplanes cannot possibly match the performance capabilities of rigid airships — he mockingly says that predictions for aeroplanes, if carried forward, result in the laughable conclusion that by 1950, they’ll be able to fly 700 mph! (Reader, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier — 767 mph — in 1947.)

    Hindenburg put a rather obvious punctuation mark on our vision of air travel, but honestly, there are a ton of reasons why rigid airships didn’t last, which have nothing to do with one of them going down very publicly in flames. Modern materials engineering and specialized uses might give them a new role to play, but there are some fundamental constraints of design that I doubt we’ll ever manage to get around.

    . . . of course, that’s what Sprigg said about planes . . .

  10. Cox you know that there’s only about 128 licensed, active blimp pilots in the world?

  11. We’ve seen the GY blimp here (and, I think, another one) several times in the last few years, owing to the fact that we live about a mile from the stadium where the Buffalo Bills play, and the Bills have actually been good in recent years, so “blimp-worthy” games end up on the schedule. Most of the two decades prior to their recent run of being good, though, were, shall we say, less than blimp-worthy.

  12. My celebrity sighting. Last night waiting for my table in the bar of a local restaurant. In walks Steph Curry with wife and a friend. My daughter asks wait staff if she can ask him for a selfie. They say yes. Steph says no. I totally agree with him. He is off duty, out for a private time. Deserves his privacy. Being rich would be great. Rich and famous? Sorry, no thanks. Although it would be nice to walk into any place you want in jeans and a hoody and they welcome you in. Go Steph. You have amazing skills.

  13. Oh, and as far as derigibles go, we live with seeing distance of the derigible hangar at Moffat field in the Bay Area (on a clear day). I remember when they actually had derigibles in that place. It was so huge it had its own weather inside.

  14. I almost got to ride in the Goodyear blimp back in the 60s when it stopped at the airport near the small town I grew up in. A friend’s uncle was the newscaster at the local AM radio station and we all went out to see it. Some other local press person was on the list and had not yet shown up and if they didn’t show, I’d get to join my friends on the ride. Unfortunately, the press person did show up at the last minute and I stayed on the ground. It was neat to see it up close and watch it land and take off, though. A side comment about my friend’s Uncle, though. We got to go with him out to the radio station at night when he was doing some work and we got to play DJ in the studio, making mix tapes on my portable cassette recorder.

  15. Years ago when we lived in the DC Metro area we’d occasionally drive to Annapolis on a nice spring/fall evening, walk along the harbor, look at the menus on the chalkboards outside the restaurants, pick one and head inside for a low key dinner. We were just settling ourselves in having done so in a small restaurant where the tables were close to each other when Sen McCain and his wife were escorted to the table next to us, within easy touching distance. They wre dressed very formally, he in a tux and she in evening wear; our assumption was that they were going to/from something at the Naval Academy. Our thought was tht they were on a private evening out, didn’t want to be bothered, so we pretended that we didn’t know who they were and aside from the quick acknowledgement that you give someone sitting next to you in tight quarters we ignored them for the rest of our meal.

  16. With two “major” teams in Charlotte, NFL Panthers and MLS Football Club, plus the two NASCAR races and NHRS races, we see the blimp quite frequently. What we don’t see is The Weinermobile. Although, and I say this with pride, my husband hugged the Weinermobile.

  17. I once visited the National Museum of the US Air Force / National Aviation Hall of Fame. It was very impressive and interesting to anyone interested in planes. I’ll have to go again soon.

  18. John, if you want your own blimp to pop into town or whatever, check out The Airship Alberto Personal Blimp.

    100% practical for everyday use.

  19. “Okay, okay.

    “I know that the last eleven times, our dirigibles have crashed and burned whenever there’s the slightest adverse conditions. But I’m sure that this time is going to be different!”

  20. When I was a kid in Phoenix, I saw the Goodyear Blimp somewhat often as it was sometimes based in… Goodyear, Arizona. I think they retired a couple of the blimps and stopped using the Goodyear, AZ hanger. I don’t know the full story. Regardless, I don’t live there anymore and it’s been some time since I’ve seen one.

    But I did see the Weinermobile once driving from NM to Phx. I was at a roadside rest area and saw it zoom bye. That was pretty cool.

  21. In the late 90s, we had a blimp maker in Eugene. They had a very small fleet–one airship–but the outer skin was interchangeable, so they could zip different product ads over it, mostly soda ads. I have fond memories of a Sunkist orange blimp floating over the skyline.

  22. Everyone knows that airships are ubiquitous in alternate realities, and that’s one way to know if you’ve left your own reality for another, the presence of airships.

  23. Perhaps there’s a connection between interest in airships and fiction writing. In the 1930s UK, chief structural engineer on the R-100 dirigible, Nevil S. Norway, started writing novels on the side, using his middle name as a nom de plume: Nevil Shute.

  24. As others have said, seeing a Goodyear blimp is almost routine when you live near one of their hangars. But “almost routine” is still not the same as boring. I still stop and look up when it passes overhead.

    If you REALLY want to get an aviation fix, head up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin this week for the 2023 edition of EAA Airventure. A Goodyear blimp will be there, along with 10,000 other aircraft of every conceivable description. One caveat, however – a LOT of other people will also be going there. (To get a feel for it, look for the YouTube video, “Oshkosh – The Spirit of Aviation”, narrated by Harrison Ford.)

    Tom –

  25. I remember as a teenager in the 70’s looking up and seeing the Goodyear blimp right overhead, in Tulsa, and making “OOH! AWWWW!” sounds. And took a picture.

    Many years later, maybe a year ago? the blimp was back for a golf tournament, and I was again “OOH! AWWWW!” Any most anyone I talked to felt the same way.

  26. The Goodyear blimp often makes appearances here in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby.

    My wife and I have even made a couple trips to the local airport where it docks to get a not-very-close look at it.

    But it’s always a delight to catch a glimpse of it when you don’t expect. it.

  27. When I was a kid my dad was stationed on an LTA base in SoCal that serviced blimps. Packs of kids would “sneak” into the hangar, when the blimp was in, to look. Always a thrill and great memories of watching it take off. Plus, the duty sargeant who “caught” us, would always give us ice pops, before sending us home. 😁 Military bases, at least back then, in my memories, were a lot like very small towns. They were actually great places to be a kid.

  28. I’m surprised no one has mentioned this yet. The blimp is probably on its way home to the Wingfoot Lake Airship Hangar in Suffield, Ohio (near Akron), the main hangar used by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for construction and maintenance of their fleet of blimps.

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