Goodbye, Goodyear blimp

October 15, 2013 by Mike Collins

I had a chance to say goodbye this morning to what, for many of us, feels like an old friend. N3A, the Spirit of Goodyear–one of the company’s three blimps and the one traditionally based in Akron, Ohio–was on her farewell tour. The airship has left Ohio for the last time, and was passing through Frederick, Maryland, on her way to Florida. There, in a few months, she’ll be decommissioned.

Goodbye Goodyear blimp

The Spirit of Goodyear in thick fog.

Thanks to recent rains, the ground here has been pretty wet. Combined with a narrow temperature/dew point spread and calm winds overnight, morning fog at the airport was guaranteed. At 8:45, you barely could see the blimp, moored in the airport’s infield.

When the fog begins to lift, it lifts quickly.

When the fog begins to lift, it lifts quickly.

A few minutes later, the fog began to lift. It lifted so quickly that you could watch it go.

As soon as the fog lifted, N3A did too--headed to Florida and eventual decommissioning.

As soon as the fog lifted, N3A did too–headed to Florida and eventual decommissioning.

The Spirit of Goodyear followed soon after, soaring skyward toward the southwest. (I’m sure the crew had to circumnavigate the Baltimore/Washington Class B airspace, just like the rest of us do.) Yes, there will be a new airship next year, but it won’t be a blimp–it will be a zeppelin. “The Goodyear Zeppelin”–that’s going to take some getting used to.


13 Responses to “Goodbye, Goodyear blimp”

  1. pilot shenki Says:

    Awesome post guys.

  2. Alton Higgins Says:

    I have always thought of the “Goodyear Blimp” as being an aviation “landmark”. Wish your article had given more information about WHY the decomission, and what’s going to happen to the “bits and pieces” of the airship.

  3. Anthony Smith Says:

    When the Blimp was stationed near Houston We were often advised to be on the lookout for the “Rubber Rocket” It was an awsome sight a night too.

  4. Rob McConnell Says:

    I happened to see it pass close to my home in northern Virginia. Knew right away it had to be a blimp coming, nothing else sounds or moves like it. Sad to learn I’ll never see it again!

  5. Steven Drake Says:

    Good bye ! Fair winds on your journey!

  6. Tom Eibling Says:

    Got to see N3A on 13Sep13 north of OI66 near Dola, Oh which is east of Lima Oh, about 20 air miles. Have seen it many times . Thanks for the memories.

  7. Mike Collins Says:

    AOPA has previously reported on the blimps’ upcoming replacement by the zeppelins. I have not been able to find out what will become of the current airships. While I’m sure they will be rendered unairworthy, the gondolas and other components could be preserved. The naval aviation museum in Pensacola has a neat blip exhibit featuring airship components.

  8. Don falik Says:

    I had the occasion in Jan. 99 coming up from Key West enroute to West Palm Beach at 8:30 PM to pass within 500 feet of the blimp as it was repositioning for the Super Bowl in Miami that was occurring the next day. I was at about 500 AGL and on an IFR flight plan talking to Miami Air controllers. It was an awesome sight as it passed in front of me and continued on to the south.

  9. Allen Thompson Says:

    While it was based in Houston I had the opportunity to not only get a ride on her ,I have .3 dual in my logbook. It was a great experience.

  10. Dan Marinacci Says:

    I had the great pleasure to see (along with over 109,000+ other fans)and photograph the Spirit Of Goodyear, N3A over Beaver Stadium in State College, PA on October 12, 2013. It help cover and fantastic football game where Penn State beat Michigan in the 4th Over time.
    Good bye good friend.

  11. Daniel Berend Says:

    You really should read up on the history of Goodyear-Zeppelin. There is a long history between them

  12. Al Cooper Says:

    I got a ride on 3 alpha when she was a new ship.It was always fun to watch the gz20’s takeoff,land & operate.It’s replacement is a German zeppelin that many other companies operate.No distinctiveness as a Goodyear ship.And quite frankly it is an awkward & unstylish looking ship.Hope they go back to gz20’s someday.

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