Akron native Savannah James — a philanthropist also known for being married to basketball superstar LeBron James — christened Goodyear's newest airship, Wingfoot Two.
Goodyear built and christened its first helium-filled public relations airship, dubbed the Pilgrim, in 1925 and since then has engineered and constructed more than 300 blimps. Erin Pustay Beaven from our Akron-based sister publication Rubber & Plastics News wrote a nice feature about Savannah James and the christening.
I'll take this excuse to post some photos of Wingfoot Two and some details about the new airship — including the plastics used in its construction.
According to Goodyear, Wingfoot Two is one of three technologically advanced blimps to join the fleet, with cutting-edge avionics and flight control systems. Its sister ship, Wingfoot One, was christened in 2014.
As part of the new fleet, Wingfoot Two was built bigger, faster and stronger than the company's prior-generation GZ20A model blimps:
Bigger: At more than 246 feet (75 m) long, Wingfoot Two stretches nearly the length of an American football field, and is 50 feet longer than previous blimps.
Faster: New blimps hit highway speeds of up to 73 mph (117 km/h) — more than 20 mph faster than previous models.
Stronger: Wingfoot Two sports a semi-rigid skeleton composed of aluminum and carbon fibre, compared to the soft, inflatable bodies used in previous fleets. The frame is now packed with 297,527 cubic feet (8,425 m3) of non-flammable helium, making it more buoyant and capable of lifting 700 pounds (317 kg) more than its predecessors.
Here's a tale of the tape, comparing the 1972-era GZ 20A models with the new version, which is technically considered a Zeppelin, model LZ N07-101:
Overall length: The GZ 20A was 192 feet long, compared to 246.4 feet for the Wingfoot Two.
Maximum width: 50 feet for the GZ 20A; the Wingfoot Two is 64.79 feet.