POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) – It’s the end of an era for the Goodyear blimp as the Spirit of Innovation airship is about to be replaced by the state-of-the-art NT blimp.
The new blimp was constructed in Ohio. In early 2015, Goodyear will make a decision on where to base it.
For now, it looks like the new blimp will be sent to Pompano Beach with the Spirit of Innovation moving on to California. Veteran blimp pilot Matt Lussier says the Pompano Beach hangar will have to be extended to accommodate the new airship.
Lussier said the new blimp has gyros and hydrolics to move its engines, instead of foot pedals and a turn wheel as featured in the older air ships.
“It will be all computer screens and a joy stick,” he said. “It will be very technologically advanced.”
The new blimp, which has not yet been named, will be slightly longer than the current 200 foot long blimp.
“It will fly faster too,” Lussier said. “The new airships will be able to do air speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. The older blimps move at about 45 miles per hour.”
Lussier is also excited about a new feature the old blimps don’t have: a bathroom.
“That will be great for long trips,” he said.
The NT blimp will also carry 12 passengers and offer a much more quiet ride because the propellers will be attached to the airframe, instead of the gondola.
“We will lose the drone sound that we are known for, the one you hear when we fly over your house that lasts for exactly 27 minutes,” said Lussier.
Blimp rides are by invitation only from Goodyear, who gives the seats to local charities who auction them off to raise money.
“We helped South Florida charities raise nearly $250,000 last year,” said Lussier with a smile. “Every single person who flies on this blimp is happy. This is definitely a bucket list item for them.”