Goodyear blimp doesn't coast into retirement
Goodbye, "Spirit of America." Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s Los Angeles-based GZ-20A model airship will be decommissioned in mid-August 2015 after more than 8,000 flights.
According to Goodyear Airship Operations, the blimp will be replaced in the Los Angeles market by its twin ship, “Spirit of Innovation,” in late September 2015. The transition is taking place as Goodyear celebrates 90 years of lighter-than-air publicity -- and introduces a new fleet of high-tech, next generation NT Zeppelin model airships.
Goodyear invited the community to get a final up-close look at the blimp during its recent retirement celebration, which was held on Friday, Aug. 7, and Saturday, Aug. 8.
Representatives from Bobit Business Media Inc., the parent company of Modern Tire Dealer and Auto Service Professional, were on board for one of the blimp's last rides.
Spirit of America worked right up until the end. Traveling up and down the West Coast, it provided aerial coverage for the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open in June and the the ESPYS, Crossfit Games and Special Olympics World Games LA 2015 Opening Ceremony in July. An exclusive ground tour also was given for more than 110 Special Olympics World Games athletes representing five countries at the Carson blimp base on July 23.
Spirit of America was christened on Sept. 5, 2002. The airship’s name was chosen as a tribute to the patriotic spirit of the United States following September 11, 2001. Today, the blimp is one of only two GZ-20A classified airships that still exist in the world.
As an aerial ambassador for Goodyear, the Spirit of America Goodyear blimp has made noteworthy appearances above the annual Rose Parade, Academy Awards, Super Bowl and X-Games, in addition to hundreds of NCAA, NBA, MLB and NHL games. The airship has appeared on television shows such as "Hell’s Kitchen" and "The Apprentice." It was rebranded for a short time in 2011 to promote the world premiere of the Disney/Pixar film “Cars 2.”
Goodyear's aerial fleet consists of three North American airships -- “Spirit of America” in Carson, Calif.; “Wingfoot One” in Akron, Ohio; and “Spirit of Innovation” in Pompano Beach, Fla. Complementing its milestone year, Goodyear continues construction on the second airship in its all-new fleet of NT Zeppelin models.