The Goodyear Blimp is the collective name for a fleet of blimps operated by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for advertising purposes and for use as a television camera platform for aerial views of sporting events. Goodyear began producing airship envelopes in 1911 and introduced its own blimp, Pilgrim, in 1925.
Designated a GZ (Goodyear-Zeppelin) 20A, the Spirit of Innovation, at 192 feet long, 59.5 feet tall and 50 feet wide, is easy to see as she floats above a football stadium or golf course at 1,500 feet.
Marty Chandler is the Pilot in Charge. Sr Pilots include Brian Comer, Corky Belanger and Brian Cutler.
The airship also is supported by a crew of 16, two base maintenance personnel and a public relations manager. The crew follows the airship in a bus, 9-passenger van and a 40-foot specially-outfitted tractor-trailer rig.
The Spirit of Innovation was the first Goodyear blimp to be named by the general public through a web-based “name-the-blimp” contest. It is the newest member of the fleet and was christened on June 21, 2006 by Lesa France Kennedy, president of International Speedway Corporation and a member of NASCAR’s Board of Directors, along with Lynn Keegan, wife of Goodyear Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Keegan.
Major events that the Spirit of Innovation, along with previous Florida-based blimps have covered include: Super Bowls; ABC Monday Night Football; NCAA College Football; NASCAR in Charlotte, Daytona and Miami; NASDAQ Tennis at Key Biscayne, Florida; US Open Tennis, New York; Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN Major League Baseball; NBA Finals and the Fort Lauderdale Air & Sea Show.