(Suffield Twp.) - Wingfoot One is now officially part of the fleet of Goodyear Blimps, christened Saturday at ceremonies attended by about 2,000 people, including Goodyear employees, VIPs, and people from the Akron area who signed up to attend the event.
Robin Roberts, host of ABC-TV's Good Morning America, christened the airship, saying it was a great honor to do so, since her great-grandfather worked for Goodyear, her mother grew up in Akron, and her grandfather was a pilot, having been a member of World War II's Tuskegee Airmen.
Wingfoot One is Goodyear's largest airship, at 246 feet long, and 57 feet high. The gondola can hold a crew of two, and as many as 12 passengers. In Akron, it replaces Spirit of Goodyear, which over the winter was moved south to an airdock in Florida.
Goodyear CEO Rich Kramer says Wingfoot One's first official job will be to do aerial TV shots at a football game, but it hasn't been determined yet which game.
Besides its size, the main differences between Wingfoot One and other Goodyear airships is that it has a body that's partially rigid, it's more maneuverable, and can fly faster. Eventually, Goodyear's two other U.S. airships will be replaced with ones similar to Wingfoot One, which was built by Goodyear in conjunction with technicians from the Zeppelin company from Germany.
The name Wingfoot One was chosen from among 15,000 submitted by people who entered a contest sponsored by Goodyear. Winner Charlotte White of Akron, as part of her prize, will be able to use the airship for an entire day.
(Photos and video by Tom Moore, WTAM 1100)