Art is Art and Water is Water

March 1, 2019

“The” “Goodyear” “Blimp”

Filed under: Twitter Threads — foone @ 7:41 pm

Original Twitter thread January 7, 2019

Fun stupid fact: The Goodyear Blimp isn’t. I mean, it isn’t a Blimp. (It’s also not “The” Goodyear Blimp anymore. There’s three of them)

A Blimp is a lighter-than-air craft that keeps its structure entirely by internal pressure. It’s a big balloon, in other words. No structure or keel. For an example, look at the Goodyear Blimp! wait…

And at the other end of the spectrum, there’s rigid airships. They have internal structure that holds their shape, even when not pressurized.

These are often called Zeppelins, because the most famous maker of them was Luftschiffbau Zeppelin, started by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (pictured below). But there are plenty of rigid airships not by Zeppelin, which aren’t truly “zeppelins.” Still, they’re often called that.

And in between these two endpoints (because of course there’s a Blimp-Zeppelin spectrum) is the semi-rigid airship. This has a keel or truss that’s rigid, but the rest of it is held together by the internal pressure.

These are a kind of best-of-both-worlds compromise: no rigid structure means they’re a lot lighter, but they won’t collapse under heavy loading like a non-rigid blimp. They were big in the late 19th century, but then rigid took over in the 1930s.

Then, you know, the Hindenberg happened. Suddenly Zeppelins, Blimps, and everything else on the lighter-than-air spectrum fell out of favor. Just planes for days.

With one notable exception being the Goodyear blimp! Since 1925 Goodyear has been operating these promotional vehicles, primarily serving as a filming platform and advertising for large sporting events. They’ve had many different airships over the years, of course.

With the first one being the Goodyear Pilgrim in 1925 (below).

But OK, so Goodyear has been doing the Goodyear Blimp for many many years (94 [at the time of this post] if you want to get out your calculator), but why aren’t they Blimps anymore? Well, it’s simple: They’re not non-rigid.

The modern Goodyear Blimp is a Zeppelin NT. It’s a semi-rigid airship.

The inside looks like this (see below). There’s an internal plastic truss in the shape of a triangle, cross-braced with aluminum girders. It may look like a blimp from the outside, but internally it’s rigid, making it a semi-rigid hybrid airship.

And remember how I said it was a Zeppelin NT? That’s a model name. The model name is literally the Zeppelin NT, which tells you right off the bat that it’s a Zeppelin. And who made it, for Goodyear? Guess.

That’d be Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH, and one of the major shareholders of them is Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH, which are the same company founded by the Count with the sweet mustache up there, von Zeppelin himself. The same people who built the Hindenberg.

So it’s definitely not a Blimp anymore. But it’s not “The” Goodyear Blimp anymore, either. Cause they now have three of them!

There’s the Wingfoot One, based in Florida (launched in 2014).

Then in 2017 they added the Wingfoot Two, in California.

Then in June of 2018 they added the Wingfoot Three, based in Ohio. So there’s now three Goodyear “Blimps”, which are not blimps.

So in “The Goodyear Blimp”, 2 out of 3 words are wrong! At least the “Goodyear” part is correct. … right?


So natural rubber latex can be extracted by tapping rubber trees, but this natural rubber has some problems for use: it’s very sticky, and it tends to decompose. It’ll crumble after a while, and it’ll easily crack in cold weather.

Throughout the 1830s, Charles Goodyear (pictured below) worked on perfecting a method of vulcanization, which uses heat and sulfur to convert natural rubber into the harder more resistant form that’s used in bicycle tires to this day. He patented the method, but made little money from it.

He ran into court cases in Europe over competing claims about who invented it first, and wasn’t able to prove his claim. And he was in poor health from exposure to chemicals he was experimenting with in his quest to make rubber useful. In 1860 he traveled to see his daughter, who was very ill. He arrived to be told she’d already died, and he collapsed and died himself.

And then almost 40 years later, Frank Seiberling starts up a company with his brother to make bicycle tires. They name it “The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company”, in honor of Goodyear.

So all in all, The Goodyear Blimp is:

1. Not “The”

2. Not “Goodyear”

3. Not a “Blimp”

And to close this thread, two obligatory things:

2019-03-01 16_37_39-foone on Twitter_ _Fun stupid fact_ The Goodyear Blimp isn't. I mean, it isn't a.png

and Ice Cube’s Good Day (when the Goodyear Blimp said Ice Cube’s A Pimp) was January 20th, 1992:

2019-03-01 16_39_47-foone on Twitter_ _and Ice Cube's Good Day (when the Goodyear Blimp said Ice Cub.png


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