Saturday, October 22, 2016

Goodyear christens new blimp, Wingfoot Two

  Senior Pilot for Goodyear Airships, James Kosmos, sits in the cockpit of Wingfoot Two at the company's blimp base in Mogadore on Thursday. 
 
 
 

AKRON - The newest blimp of Goodyear’s fleet was christened by NBA superstar LeBron James’ wife, Savanah, at the company’s air dock near Akron on Friday.

She broke a bottle of champagne over the bow of the 12-person gondola. Wingfoot Two, a 246-foot-long airship, was constructed in Ohio with technicians from Goodyear and Germany’s ZLT Zeppelin.

However, bad weather grounded the blimp from flying on its christening day.

James Kosmos, senior pilot for the company, said he was excited to be flying the new blimp that was unofficially unveiled in April. During a press event on Thursday, Kosmos gave News Journal Media a tour of the high-tech cockpit.

It’s a lot more maneuverable, quieter and faster than the old one, he said, remarking that he’ll be able to hover and even go backward thanks to two rotating side engines. The new engines also help increase the top speed of the airship from 50 mph to 73 mph.

There are more digital components and controls in the cockpit, which allows pilots to fly with electronic controls, instead of relying on levers and wheels linked mechanically to different apparatuses.

“The old airship was more physically challenging to fly,” Kosmos said. “While the new airship is more mentally challenging to fly.”

Flying the blimp is different from an airplane, Kosmos said. While an airplane will turn left if you move the control wheel left, it’s a bit different for the lumbering blimp.

“It’s more of a dance, based on winds and the angle that the sun is hitting you. It’s actually closer to flying a big sailboat.”

As large as Wingfoot Two is, he said, the airship goes too slow for turbulence, creating a nice smooth ride.

The new Wingfoot Two will be based in Carson, Calif.

The components for another new airship have arrived at the Akron Goodyear Airdock, and are ready for assembly. The next new blimp is expected to be completed in Spring 2017.

Story and video:   http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com

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