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Savannah James Christens Akron-based Goodyear's Newest Blimp, Wingfoot Two

Photo of Wingfoot Two

Goodyear’s newest blimp – Wingfoot Two – was christened Friday by Savannah James – wife of LeBron James -- at the company’s hangar in Suffield.

Savannah James christened the blimp on a wet and windy day in front of hundreds of employees and their families. The festivities included a performance by the University of Akron marching band.

Goodyear  christened Wingfoot One, the first of its new class of airships, two years ago. The two most recent additions to the fleet are technically not blimps. They’re semi-rigid airships. True blimps are non-rigid.

Tech upgrades
The new airships are faster, bigger and quieter than the previous generation of blimps, with a top speed of 73 mph and a length of more than 80 yards. Rick Nicodemus from Akron has been with Goodyear’s IT Department for 38 years, and he brought his family to see the christening.

“Oh, it’s like flying a jet plane. They let us go through it when they were first building it and it looks like a pilot’s cockpit in there, it’s so amazing – all the avionics. Blimps used to have a wheel in it that was connected to a wire to steer the blimp and make it go up and down. It’s amazing what they can do nowadays.”

'Sky's the limit'
Savannah James was also amazed. Even though her father worked for Firestone Tire for many years, she still remembers what the Goodyear blimp meant to her when she was growing up in Akron.

“My biggest dream is for young kids growing up in Akron – when they look up in the sky – to see that iconic Goodyear blimp. I want them to be inspired. I hope that this honor will inspire and uplift all kids growing up in Akron and encourage them to follow Goodyear blimps’ lead in believing the sky truly is the limit for each and every one of them.”

Wingfoot Two will be based in California starting next year, replacing the Spirit of Innovation, which will be decommissioned after 45 years. Construction on Wingfoot Three will then begin in Suffield. That airship will be based here after it’s christened. Construction is expected to be completed in about two years.

The company has built more than 300 blimps since 1925.


Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.