Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blimp Of The Day: March 13, 2011

Today's car of the day is Hot Wheels' 1992 Goodyear Blimp GZ-20.

The Goodyear Blimp is the collective name for a fleet of blimps operated by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for advertising purposes and for use as a television camera platform for aerial views of sporting events. Goodyear began producing airship envelopes in 1911 and introduced its own blimp, The Pilgrim, in 1925.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Goodyear Blimp

I think we may be pushing the boundary of "car" on this one, but it's a Hot Wheels, and it happens to be a casting I really like, regardless of how hated it is among collectors.  I've tried to figure out if this is a GZ-20 or the GZ-22 (possible, as the sole GZ-22 was recent at the time), however with the GZ-20 based out of California (the blimp in particular was "Eagle") I'm leaning towards that being what this particular model was based on (would also make sense since the Eagle's debut was right about the time this model hit the pegs).

Today there are three blimps in the fleet:

-Spirit of Goodyear, based in Suffield Township, Ohio

-Spirit of America, based in Carson, California

-Spirit of Innovation, based in Pompano Beach, Florida

All three craft are outfitted with LED sign technology Goodyear calls "Eaglevision." This allows the aircraft to display bright, multi-colored, animated words and images.

Goodyear also has blimps operating in other parts of the world. These airships are built and operated by The Lightship Group of Orlando, Florida.

The three modern types of Goodyear blimps, since the 1960s, are: GZ-19, GZ-20 and GZ-22.

The GZ stands for Goodyear-Zeppelin, stemming from the partnership Goodyear had with the German company when both were building airships together. However these three classes came many years after this partnership had dissolved during the start of World War II. The GZ-1 was the USS Akron, the U.S. Navy's flying aircraft carrier.

GZ-19: Introduced in 1963 and discontinued in 1978 after the loss of Mayflower (N38A). The design for this class resembles the U.S. Navy's L class blimp.

GZ-20: This class is what the current American fleet is composed of. Introduced in 1969, with the America (N10A) and Columbia (N3A) being the first two. This class is slightly longer than GZ-19.

GZ-22: The only airship in this class was the Spirit of Akron (N4A). Originally built in 1987 to show the U.S. Department of Defense that airships were still militarily viable, it was the largest and most technically advanced ship Goodyear ever had in its public relations fleet, featuring fly-by-wire technology. However, Spirit was lost in 1999 and the company has not built one since, most likely because of the large expense to build and operate one due to its size and advanced technology.

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