THE GOODYEAR BLIMP Super Bowl XLIX
The Goodyear Blimp, an Icon in the Sky, was recently in Phoenix for Super Bowl XLIX. The Blimp is a familiar site in the Litchfield Park-Goodyear skies as it had its beginning in the 1930’s. Paul Litchfield, our Founder, is responsible for the development of the Blimp at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
First Airship In 1910, Mr. Paul Litchfield attended an air meet in Europe and saw his first airship. Mr. Litchfield liked the fact that it depended on lifting gas to keep it aloft rather an engine and he learned that the North British Rubber Company in Edinburgh, Scotland had developed a machine to spread dissolved rubber on wing fabric. Mr. Litchfield went to Edinburgh and found the company interested in Goodyear’s straight side tire. He worked out a “Yankee Trade” the straight side tire rights for their spreading process. Litchfield bought one of their machines right off the floor and shipped it back to Akron, Ohio to the Goodyear Company. He also hired the two Scotsmen running it and they remained with the company the rest of their lives.
Goodyear was now into the field of Aeronautics and hired new Engineers to learn everything they could about airships. Goodyear made its first airship in 1911 and by 1913 took a Balloon to a race in Paris to compete with European pilots.
The Resolute The Blimp that was best known in the Litchfield-Goodyear, Arizona area was the Resolute. It was around 1930 that the Resolute was built and named for the America Cup defenders in International Yachting. It was one of several Blimps made by Goodyear to build up their fleet and to familiarize the public with airships. Blimp envelopes were also built at Goodyear Aerospace in Goodyear, Arizona in the early 1950’s. The Resolute was sent by Goodyear to The Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park to entertain guests with tours of the Salt River Valley. Local area children were invited to ride in the blimp when there was space available. It was a common site to see the Blimp fly over Litchfield Park with the colored messages on the side and especially when the Corporate Executives were at the Wigwam for their annual meetings each October.
Super Bowl XLIX recently brought the Goodyear Blimp back into area of Litchfield Park and Goodyear. The Spirit of America from Carson, California spent a week in this area as the University of Phoenix Stadium, where the Super Bowl Game was played, is very near the Goodyear Airport. A few local area guests were entertained with a ride on the Spirit of America. A member of the Litchfield Park Historical Society, Meredeth Stucky sponsored an online fundraising auction for two guests. The winners were John and Andrea Simpkins of Avondale, Arizona. Celeste Crouch and a guest were given a ride by Goodyear Corporate Office. Celeste received a ride in appreciation for writing a book titled” Litchfield Park”, a History of the Litchfield Park area. Celeste invited as her guest John Donahue of the Litchfield Park Historical Society as he is developing an exhibit on the Goodyear Blimp that will be featured at the Litchfield Park Historical Society Museum in October of 2015.
It was very exciting to ride on The Spirit of America which was christened on September 5, 2002. It is one of three Goodyear Blimps that are now active. The Spirit of Innovation is in Pompano Beach, Florida and Spirit of Goodyear in Portage County, Ohio. In 2015, the Goodyear Blimp is celebrating 60 years in aerial broadcasting and 85 years as a promotional airship.
Goodyear Blimps were commercialized for promotional purposes in 1925 and since that time have provided coverage to more than 5,000 sporting events around the world. The Goodyear Blimps are 192 ft. long -59.5 ft. tall and 50ft. wide. The Blimp seats six and cruises at 35 MPH and can go up to 50 MPH.
Celeste Crouch (In conjunction with John Donahue) Information for this Article was taken from these books-Industrial Voyage- (My Life as an Industrial Lieutenant) by Paul W. Litchfield GOODYEAR- The First 100 Years by Jeffrey L. Rodengen Goodyear Blimp Publicists- Priscilla Tasker Photos – Courtesy of the Wigwam Resort Courtesy of John Donahue of the Litchfield Park Historical Society #GoodyearTire #LitchfieldParkHistoricalSociety #Blimp