Come this summer, Goodyear will put its newest blimp, the NT, into service. Designed and built by Germany’s Zeppelin, the NT is far more sophisticated than previous Goodyear airships, faster, larger, and quieter. Goodyear, which restored its partnership with Zeppelin, created a time-lapse video, documenting the construction from start to finish.
Work on the NT, which stands for New Technology, began last year at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield Township, Ohio, near the city of Akron. Because it uses a larger semi-rigid structure than the non-rigid ones of previous crafts, it’s able to fly faster, farther, and quieter, as well as being more maneuverable. However, it’ll still use helium. Some question whether this new airship qualifies to be called a blimp, as that’s used in reference to non-rigid airships (there are also rigid airships, like the ill-fated Hindenburg) , but Goodyear is still referring to the NT as one.
Decked out in the iconic Goodyear blimp colors, at 246 feet, it’s 54-feet longer than the Spirit of Goodyear blimp the NT replaces. The NT has a top speed of 73 miles per hour, which is nearly 20-mph faster. During its first flight on March 17, the pilots were able to reach 80 mph, thanks to some tailwind. The new airship uses engines that swivel up and down, allowing it to take off and land like a helicopter. The NT can seat two pilots and 12 passengers, and it offers a modern-day luxury: an onboard restroom.
Goodyear will test the NT over the next few months, to achieve certification. During this time Goodyear blimp pilots will undergo training. Replacing the Spirit of Goodyear (which will retire in Florida – where else? – before being decommissioned) that flew for 14 years, you probably guessed that NT wouldn’t be the airship’s final name. Goodyear is currently running a naming contest until April 4, in which the public can christen the new aircraft. Winner gets bragging right, while nine runner-ups will get new tires.
Goodyear, which has two other blimps located in California and Florida, is planning to replace those with airships made by Zeppelin, retiring older non-rigid blimps by the end of the decade.
Watch the time-lapse video below, as well as the airship’s first flight.