This morning I was able to tour Wingfoot One, the Goodyear Blimp, stationed out of the Pompano Beach Airfield. The size is massive and the photos will not do it justice. But here are some interesting facts I learned about the blimp.
- It’s max speed is 90 mph, but rarely sees that. It averages around 40 mph.
- There is no special course or flying school to learn how to fly the blimp. Rather, you must have a resume of flying various types of aircraft.
- There’s a crew of 25 that travel with the blimp. So when the blimp is overheard, tractor trailers and trucks are on the ground driving to the meeting point. The blimp usually arrives first and must circle until the crew arrives.
- Someone is always “flying’ the blimp. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Even if it’s in the hangar, someone must be monitoring the gas pressure, temperature, fuel levels, etc.
- The pilots can fly for 30 hours.
- Bored? Never. The blimp has XM Radio.
- The camera that provides you all that aerial footage during games is incredible. The pilot has been able to read a fan’s program after zooming in. He’s also been able to read the designer label on jeans and sunglasses.
- It’s a large as a football field, can carry 10 passengers and weighs 20,000 pounds.
- It’s filled with helium, not hydrogen.
- This 25 man crew and captain do everything. In fact, the captain that gave our tour, was responsible for painting the blimp from the engines to the nose cone. He also inspects the inside of the blimp for pinhole leaks in which helium can seep through.
- After Hurricane Andrew, the blimp flew over Homestead with information on where people could get food and water. Remember, Andrew was in ’92… no cell phones and power was out. The blimp was the only way to communicate to a large group of people at once.
- The lifespan of a blimp is 12 years. After 12 years, the hardware is reused but the sheathing is thrown away.