Goodyear unveils blimp’s replacement

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AKRON, Ohio (AP) – The next generation of the well-known Goodyear blimp is getting ready to take flight as the Ohio-based company retires its current fleet of airships.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. says the helium-filled airship unveiled Friday at an Akron-area hangar is bigger, quicker and more maneuverable than earlier blimps. The company says it will provide a longer flight range and better aerial broadcast capabilities for event coverage.

“Takeoff and landing is a lot more like a helicopter, almost vertical, up and down if we need it to be,” said Assistant Chief Pilot Michael Dougherty. “The GZ-20 airship requires a takeoff role and the landing approach similar to an airplane, so good improvement in the controllability in this one.”

The new blimp is 246 feet long and has a silver balloon-like body emblazoned with Goodyear’s yellow logo on a blue background. It is scheduled to start test flights in northeast Ohio this month and go into service in the summer.

Before then, it needs one more component: a name. Goodyear is collecting suggestions through a naming contest on its website until April 4.

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