Goodyear to build new blimp to replace one that crashed during violent storm

Wednesday, October 5th 2005, 11:16 am
By: News On 6

AKRON, Ohio (AP) _ Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said it will build a new version of a bullet-shaped blimp by spring to replace one that crashed in June during a violent storm in Florida.

The 192-foot-long replacement blimp _ still unnamed _ will use parts salvaged from the crashed airship, including the gondola that holds the pilot and passengers.

It also will have a new neoprene-plastic envelope, which is the massive fabric structure that fills with helium to provide lift. Officials at Akron-based Goodyear declined to reveal the new blimp's cost.

Goodyear executives had been silent until Tuesday night about whether they would salvage the silver, blue and gold Stars & Stripes, or build a new blimp. The company has two other blimps _ the Suffield, Ohio-based Spirit of Goodyear and the Carson, Calif.-based Sprit of America _ in its North American Fleet. The widely recognized corporate icon is used to provide coverage of sports events and for charitable fund-raisers.

``Goodyear will once again have three airships flying over America,'' said Jon Rich, president of the company's North American Tire division.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled last month that poor planning and decisions by the pilot caused the Stars & Stripes blimp to crash. Neither the pilot nor his passenger were injured.