MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After sailing the sky more than a dozen years over numerous sporting events, the “Spirit of Goodyear” blimp is about to head south to sunny South Florida where it will be retired.
The blimp, which has been based at the company’s Akron, Ohio hangar base since its christening 13 years ago, will join The Spirit of Innovation and operate from the company’s Pompano Beach airship base this winter before being decommissioned in the spring of 2014.
“With winter on the way and the blimp’s retirement coming up, it’s time for the Spirit of Goodyear to move south,” said Nancy Ray, director of Goodyear’s global airship program.
Beginning next year, the company will begin replacing the current fleet of blimps with new state-of-the-art Goodyear NT (New Technology) airships, the first of which is under construction in Akron.
The Spirit of Goodyear will depart Akron on October 11, traveling to State College, Pa., to cover the Penn State-Michigan football game for ESPN. Afterwards, the airship will work its way south to the company’s Pompano Beach blimp base.
Christened on March 15, 2000 by America’s first woman in space, NASA astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, the Spirit of Goodyear was named to honor the company’s worldwide associates. It is the oldest of the tiremaker’s three U.S.-based blimps and the first to be replaced by the new Goodyear NT.
Goodyear, one of the world’s largest tire companies, owns and operates three airships in the United States. They are based in Akron, Pompano Beach, and Carson, Calif.