The iconic Goodyear Blimp returns to Europe

For the first time in nearly a decade, the legendary Goodyear Blimp takes flight again over Europe. The iconic ‘blimp’ made a first appearance in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where it will be based and operated by the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei↗︎ GmbH. This marks the latest chapter in a nearly 100-year relationship between Goodyear and Zeppelin.

Why ‘blimp’ in quotation marks? Well, technically speaking today’s Goodyear Blimp should be called ‘Goodyear Zeppelin’. The original blimp was nothing more than a steerable, helium-filled balloon (without any internal structural framework). Today’s Zeppelin NT is a proper airship with a semi-rigid aluminium structure inside.

The Zeppelin NT airship measures 75m (246 ft) in length and almost 18m (59 ft) in height. It is the same model airship as the three Goodyear blimps operated by Goodyear in the United States.

Goodyear will use the airship for an advertising tour across Europe and will provide aerial coverage of some key motorsport events. In addition, some commercial flights with passengers are planned to take place over Germany. Recently, the tire and rubber company has made a comeback as sponsor and supplier of international racing events, for example the FIA World Endurance Championship, the European Le Mans Series, and the British Touring Car Championship.

Cockpit of the ‘Goodyear Blimp’ Zeppelin NT

“The Goodyear Blimp is a true icon that has captured the imaginations of consumers and enthusiasts in the United States and across the world for nearly one hundred years. Its return to Europe has been long-awaited and is the perfect way to celebrate our return to international motorsport, our new media partnership with Eurosport and the cutting-edge additions to our product portfolio.”

Mike Rytokoski, Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Goodyear Europe

“Zeppelin is proud to be furthering and expanding our long-standing collaboration with Goodyear. We look forward to adding Europe to our area of cooperation, giving our relationship a new, international dimension.”

Eckhard Breuer, CEO, Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH

In the United States, the Goodyear Blimp is a common guest at a number of big sporting events, including NASCAR races, NBA games and PGA golf events. In Europe, the Goodyear Blimp is an icon in its own right. It first arrived in Europe in March 1972, making its maiden flight in June that year in Cardington, England. Christened ‘Europa’, it took to the skies over Europe over the subsequent 14 years, appearing at a number of prominent sporting and cultural events, including the 1985 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, the 1986 French Open at Rolland Garros and even two British royal weddings, before being retired in 1986.

Wingfoot One, Goodyear’s first Zeppelin NT, over Suffield, Ohio

Goodyear blimps have returned to tour around Europe in subsequent years. However, the first flight from Friedrichshafen now marks the first time a Goodyear Blimp has flown in Europe since 2012.

Photo Credit: Goodyear

AviationXpert Crew