On a recent afternoon, my wife Susie and I, were driving north on Dixie Highway in Pompano Beach when the Goodyear blimp blocked the sun overhead as it glided every so slowly over the street to the landing zone just east of the street.
A quick U-turn brought us to the access road that leads to the Blimp Base and into the gate at the company’s reception building.
We parked as the blimp took off again headed toward the coast and walked into the building to be met by the only person in the area. He seemed glad to see people interested in what was going on at blimp headquarters.
He ushered us outside to a viewing area only a few yards from the landing field just as the blimp came overhead again at about 100 feet. It’s two outboard motors hummed softly as it slid toward the ground at walking speed.
For the next hour we watched as the giant balloon made touch and go landings and takeoffs as a training exercise for new pilots.
The blimp based in Pompano weighs only 19,000 pounds and is only two years old. It’s advanced design, with two outboard motors, allow it to hover like a helicopter. It can carry up to 10 passengers plus a crew of two and under the right conditions can stay in the air for 30 hours. Top speed is 70 mph.
When covering football games, golf tournaments and other events on the east coast it carries it’s own camera crew. On the ground a crew of 22 maintain the airship. A second blimp is stationed on the west coast and a third is being readied in Ohio to cover the Midwest.
Public tours can be arranged and more information is available at Goodyearblimp.com or by calling Oriana Garcia at 954-946-8300.