Tom Haines

Monitoring one BIG baby

March 5, 2009 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

A blimp is like a child that never grows up. From the day its 200,000 cubic foot envelope is inflated, a Goodyear blimp is monitored 24/7–never left alone. I visited the Goodyear Spirit of Innovation today at its gigantic hangar on the airport at Pompano Beach Airport in Florida. The 200-foot blimp looks almost like a toy inside the enormous span. I’m told they can actually fit two of the blimps inside, although it must surely be tight. You can easily read the big Goodyear on the side of the hangar from space! Check out the satellite view from Google; switch to satellite view, search on “Pompano Beach Airpark, FL” and zoom: http://maps.google.com/maps?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8

Staff continuously monitor the gas pressure inside the envelope. Actually, an automatic system monitors the gas pressure and occasionally starts an air pump to inflate or deflate ballonets inside the envelope to maintain the proper helium pressure. Staff monitor the pump and other systems.

Look for a feature on the historic Goodyear blimps in the May issue of AOPA PILOT and a really amazing photo that we plan to shoot tomorrow. Goodyear Aviation, at 100, isn’t the only outfit to have a significant birthday this year. Stay tuned.

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3 Responses to “Monitoring one BIG baby”

  1. Paul Says:

    So does it have a glass panel? Are they all IFR equipped?

  2. Tom Haines Says:

    It has a Bendix/King multifunction display, but no PFD or large MFD, so not a glass cockpit. A Garmin handheld GPS provides datalink weather. All of the Goodyear blimps are IFR equipped and capable and the pilots do fly them IFR on cross country flights if needed. As you can imagine, it takes a long time to fly an approach at only 25-35 knots ground speed–even slower in a strong headwind.

  3. Mick McCarthy Says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading this post, thanks. We’ve justhad our first baby 8 weeks ago and thisis exactly what I was looking for, keep up the good work.

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