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 Blimps

The Goodyear BlimpGoodyear Blimps - Traveling at speeds of 35 mph, the Goodyear blimps ("#1 IN TIRES" ad on the underbelly) have been effectively used for years in covering sports events (World Series, Indy 500, Monday Night Football), and giving an aerial view of spectators and players via TV cameras mounted at the base of the blimps cabins. Goodyear launched its first Blimp, the Pilgrim in 1925.

Each Blimp is a standardized 200 feet in length, has twin 210 horse power engines, and flies 100,000 miles a year at a cruising altitude of 1,000 feet.

The first use of Goodyear's aerial photography was from the airship "Mayflower" which enhanced the CBS coverage of the 1960s Orange Bowl Regatta in Miami.

Besides being able to give beautiful panoramic views, the blimps are equipped with a gyro-stabilized state-of-the-art Ikegami 323P camera (or Gyrocam 360) with a 44 to 1 zoom lens so sophisticated that reportedly the lens can focus clearly on a golf ball 500-1000 feet away.

For all their capabilities, the blimps are used only for cover shots and cutting into and out of commercials. When the blimp goes on television to cover a specific event, no money changes hands. Goodyear arranges to link up with the participating network and in exchange for their help, they are guaranteed a couple of well placed mentions and a peek or two of the blimp flying overhead the event.

If by chance, the program is being sponsored by any rival tire company, the blimp bows out. Other reasons for the blimp not being seen during an event is the last minute cancellation of the video coverage due to high winds or storms.

In recent years, the friendly skies of blimpdom were invaded by other new comers who also realized the financial rewards of free advertising. Kodak, Citicorp, McDonalds, Fuji and Budweiser (their blimp has done the Super Bowl since 1993) are just a few such companies competing with Goodyear in a bid for advertising air supremacy.

As of 1990s, Goodyear domestic airships included the Stars & Stripes, the Eagle, the America (which winters in Houston); her sister ship Columbia based in Los Angeles; and one of the largest ship called The Spirit of Akron (205.5 feet long, 15,000 pounds gross) based in Pompano Beach, Florida. The Spirit replaced the Enterprise which was recently retired after some 11 years. There is also a foreign blimp based in Rome, Italy.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has manufactured more than 300 airships since 1917. Each blimp has an annual budget of $3 million and a crew of 23. For all their size, however, the blimps only seat six (plus a pilot).
 
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