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It takes some muscle to get the Spirit of America safely to ground. A Goodyear crew helps as the blimp lands on May 5, 2011, at the grassy field in Carson that is one of three bases for the blimps -- the others are Akron, Ohio, and Pompano Beach, Fla. Goodyear is about to swap out its blimps for a faster new model.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Spirit of America gets ready to take off with Assistant Pilot in Charge Kristen Davis at the helm on May 4, 2011, in Carson. Davis was taking up a camera that would provide an overview of Staples Center in downtown L.A. during a Lakers playoff game.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Carlos Marquez, assistant chief airship mechanic and rigger, climbs the 30-foot mast that holds the Spirit of America in place to release the blimp for a flight, on May 4, 2011.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Lou Navarro, assistant chief electronics technician, tests an external camera mounted to the blimp before the flight over Staples Center, May 4, 2011. Goodyear's current blimps travel at a top speed of 54 miles per hour. The replacement airships will be 55 feet longer than the current ones and hit 73 mph.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

As seen from the cockpit during landing, three crew members work the nose lines and seven on the gondola.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Terranea Resort, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, as photographed with a tilt-shift lens from the Goodyear blimp on May 5, 2011.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

A neighborhood on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Goodyear takes advantage of its midair position to provide free aerial shots of big events in exchange for footage of the blimp flying overhead by ground camera crews. "They get exposure at every highly trafficked public event," said Kelly O'Keefe, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's Brandcenter. "That’s a lot of value from an advertising perspective."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Point Vicente Lighthouse, in Rancho Palos Verdes, photographed from the Goodyear blimp.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

An aerial view of a Palos Verdes Peninsula neighborhood.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Trump National Golf Club, as seen from the Spirit of America.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

The shadow of the blimp can be seen as the airship moves over the South Bay.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Two ships were built in 1969, according to, including the Columbia. The blimp and her sister, America, carried the incandescent "Skytacular" running night sign on both sides. The signs were powered by an auxiliary jet turbine engine.


According to Goodyear, the Enterprise was among mainstays in the blimp fleet from the late 1940s through the '50s. This image shows Enterprise moored to an auxiliary mast mounted on the crew bus; a similar system is still in use today.


The airship Resolute and her crew. After Pearl Harbor, four ships in the Goodyear fleet were transferred directly to the Navy, according to Goodyear.


The Volunteer was built in 1929 and based in Los Angeles. This image shows Volunteer with flotation devices.


In June 1919, says, the company commenced its own airship operation and built several ships including three Pony Blimps. The ships were inflated with hydrogen. The goal was to clue in Americans to the ships and also explore their potential commercial use.


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Goodyear blimp

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Goodyear blimp

Goodyear blimps have been a regular sight in Southern California, even before World War II when the U.S. Navy used them to keep an eye on the West Coast.  Now, Goodyear turns a new page as it will be working with German manufacturer ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik to build three new blimps beginning in 2013.  Here’s a look at the Spirit of America and its grassy air field in Carson, as well as some historic photos of Goodyear blimps. More photos from an earlier flight can be seen here.


  1. May 18, 2011, 10:31 am

  2. May 19, 2011, 12:57 am

    These pictures could really use some captions.

    By: Charles Munger
  3. June 5, 2011, 7:18 pm

    […] Goodyear blimp – Framework – Photos and Video – Visual … May 17, 2011 … Goodyear blimps have been a regular sight in Southern … […]

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