New blimp draws the attention of thousands

AKRON, Ohio (WKBN) — A favorite site for many: A new Goodyear Blimp will be flying the skies over Northeast Ohio on Saturday night.

The company held a huge christening ceremony in Akron on Saturday that drew thousands of people, many of them from the Valley.

However, this new blimp has so many changes, experts said that it shouldn’t even be called a blimp.

The new model mixes a lot of heritage with cutting edge technology. It’s called Wingfoot One, and its christening looked just like one for any big ship on the sea.

ABC News anchor Robin Roberts broke the ceremonial bottle of champagne on Wingfoot One.

“To honor the legacy and embrace the future of the Goodyear Airships, I christen thee Wingfoot One,” said Roberts.

The Airship is bigger than its predecessor, scaling in at about 85 yards long. The old one was about 65.

It was built in partnership with Germany’s reborn Zeppelin company. In fact, it’s tail number is European, even though it was assembled in Akron. It’s the first complete redesign for Goodyear’s iconic aircraft since the 1940s.

“This is the first time that we built an airship like this. And you know, it is a different structure, a different type of aircraft,” said Richard Cramer, CEO of Goodyear.

Wingfoot One moves the new engines away from the passenger compartment. They move up and down to help with steering. Plus all of the controls are computerized, requiring less effort from the pilots.

The new airship seemed to live up to the expectations of the crowd, including Youngstown residents Dean and Eva Buchanan.

“We left at six o’clock this morning to come over here and make sure we go to see it,” said Dean Buchanan.

The Buchanans got to see the Goodyear airship show off for the crowd of about 2,000 spectators. The company said it plans to use the new design to build two other new airships in the next four years.

However, for Saturday’s visitors at Goodyear’s Airship Operations on Wingfoot Lake, none will compare.

“I have wanted to do this all my life. I have wanted to be up close in the hangar and see this. This is just a great day,” said Eva Buchanan.

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