“There were a couple tears because they’ve been working with blimps for so long,” company airship historian Eddie Ogden told the Associated Press of the deflating ceremony. “But the program has always changed over the decades and this is a step forward. The new model is incredible to watch fly.”
The newer Wingfoot Two, which will replace the iconic “Spirit of Innovation” blimp, will have the same color pattern as its iconic predecessor and will still be used to capture aerial footage of live sporting events.
But while the aircraft, which currently operates in Ohio ahead of its relocation to southern California, will look similar, the new machine is not a blimp.
The Wingfoot Two is actually a semi-rigid airship, also known as a dirigible. From the outside, it may not differ much from Goodyear’s blimps of the past, but the newer edition is built with a structured frame. That feature allows the Wingfoot Two to maintain its shape whenever helium is drained from its interior.
And the frame is not just a stylistic choice. The structure also makes the new airship faster, quieter, larger and more maneuverable than previous Goodyear blimps.
The new aircraft, as well as other newer models that will be rolled out at a later date, will still be referred to as blimps.
“Because a Goodyear Semi-rigid Dirigible doesn’t roll off the tongue,” Ogden told the AP.