The Goodyear Wingfoot 2 touched down at the Marana Regional Airport on Tuesday on part of its journey from Akron, OH to Long Beach, CA. The airship will remain in Marana overnight before departing on Wednesday morning.
The Wingfoot left Deming, NM early Tuesday morning and thanks to a 25 knot push, traversed the 200 miles in about three hours. On Wednesday the craft will fly to Blythe, CA and then touch home in Long Beach on Thursday. The airship is currently housed at the Long Beach Air Port, but will soon make its permanent home in nearby Carson, CA.
The Wingfoot 2 is one of three newer airships employed by Goodyear Tire, and celebrated its one-year birthday last week. The two other airships are based in Florida and Ohio.
The crew of the Wingfoot 2 was in Ohio for further training on the newer craft. Four of the pilots flew in from Deming, while the rest had to drive in with other members of the ground crew. Waiting for the Wingfoot two were two semis. One semi carries fuel, while the other has a hydraulic mast, which they secure the aircraft to. A van with a large trailer and a pick-up truck were also on hand.
Once the airship landed, it took about 40 minutes to fully stabilize the craft and secure it. According to the crew a lot of care has to go into balancing the liquid and gas that inflate the Wingfoot 2. Temperature and elevation create variables which must be accounted for to ensure the craft is safely docked.
More commonly known as the Goodyear Blimp, the Wingfoot 2 is actually a zeppelin. Unlike a blimp, a zeppelin has a rigid internal structure that provides a framework to help it maintain its shape. While similar, a blimp has no framework and maintains its shape solely from the gases that help it take to the sky.
The controls of the Wingfoot 2 are not dissimilar to conventional aircraft, though takeoff and landing are more similar to the V-22 Osprey, which has rotors that tilt to allow it to take off and land more like a helicopter than an airplane. The props on the Wingfoot 2 also tilt to aid in landing and takeoff.
The Goodyear Wingfoot airships are used for a variety of marketing and commercial opportunities. They are commonly seen flying over sporting events and have their own cameras and technicians on the ground who can send the signals to the television networks covering the game.
According to Marana Regional Airport Director Steve Miller, this is not the first time one of the Goodyear airships has docked at the airport. They have also played host to the MetLife Blimp.