Goodyear Blimp

Goodyear Blimp Airship London Flight London Aerial Photography Hasselblad Jay McLaughlin

I need to start this blog by saying Twitter is awesome! If it wasn't for Twitter, yesterday would never have happened. It all started when I was watching England play Wales on the TV. At half time they showed a clip of the Goodyear Blimp and thanked them for all the aerial shots of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. I've had a childhood obsession with Blimps ever since one flew over my house when I was around 5 or 6 years old. I also remember a school trip around the same sort of time to Cardington, Bedfordshire to where they build them. So after seeing one of the most widely recognised and iconic blimps on the tv I tweeted "Blimps are awesome! There should be more blimps in the sky!" I didn't expect Goodyear UK to respond to it offering me a trip in it!So yesterday I headed down to Damyns Hall Aerodrome, near Upminster in Essex, along with a 50 megapixel H4D-50, courtesy of Hasselblad UK for my trip. I was so excited... Part of me still can't believe I went up in the Blimp. It was like a childhood dream, and it didn't disappoint!

Goodyear have gone all out on this promotional tour. Not only was there a departure lounge, complete with refreshments, but you're also given a really nice boarding pass, which all adds to the magic of the day. The flight was much smoother than I expected. Even the take off and landing were reasonably effortless. What I did find amusing was before we were able to head into London airspace we were told to hold position while we got clearance. This meant the blimp pitched forward so we were looking at the ground below momentarily. All part of the fun though. It was also amazing to hear all the air traffic conversations going on with the other aircraft in the area through the headsets we had on, and to hear other aeroplanes being told to watch out for us on their approach into London City Airport. Our trip in total lasted around an hour and a half, and took us right across London as far as Vauxhall Bridge, and then back along the River Thames so we could take in all the sights.So what was it all in aid of? Well aside from the Goodyear Blimp being the most famous of all Blimps, and an amazing ambassador for the Goodyear Brand, it's part of a much bigger safety campaign being run by Goodyear.Taken from their press release...

A poor understanding of The Highway Code is compromising road safety, a new survey has revealed.Results from the poll of 5,000 motorists showed a large percentage failed to correctly answer a number of general knowledge and picture questions covering The Highway Code.

The survey, commissioned by leading tyre manufacturer Goodyear, showed that 54% of drivers did not know to stop when a traffic light shone its red and amber lights together. 48% of those surveyed also didn’t know that the typical stopping distance for a car driving at 50mph is 53 metres or 13 car lengths. Nearly a fifth thought they could get away with 36 metres.When asked what the no-overtaking road sign meant, a worrying 23% got it wrong and over 75% assumed that the 30mph minimum speed sign actually indicated the maximum speed allowed. However, while the results showed many drivers were out of touch with the road rules, 95% are under the illusion that their understanding of The Highway Code is either adequate or good and over 40% don’t believe that drivers should be re-tested.“Understanding the rules of The Highway Code can significantly reduce road accidents,” said Eddy Geerdink, Goodyear’s marketing director. “Our survey shows that a number of drivers would fail their driving test based on this knowledge and at worst it could put the lives of fellow drivers at risk if they wrongly interpreted them in real motoring situations.”“At Goodyear, we firmly believe that safety is a shared responsibility,” continued Eddy. “Through this commitment we look forward to sharing the results of this survey with the UK population by using the Goodyear Blimp to underline the importance of road safety.”

After the trip, we were treated to a very nice lunch (especially the desserts!) and were able to sit out in the sunshine while we watched the Blimp taking off and landing with other excited passengers. We also received a little pack featuring a pin badge, a flight certificate and a photo of ourselves in front of the Blimp before our flight. I was also given my own mini Blimp balloon, which is now floating around my studio, making me smile each time it drifts past.I can't thank Goodyear enough for the chance to go up in the Blimp, and I'm still amazed at how this was all a result of a simple comment I made on Twitter! Anyone that doesn't see the value of social media needs some serious educating... who knows where you could end up... I ended up in the Goodyear Blimp over the streets of London!Here are some super awesome, and very geeky facts about the Goodyear Blimp...

1 The first Goodyear blimp was built in 1917 2 Blimps called Spirit of Safety I and Spirit of Safety II will operate in the 2011 European Goodyear Safety Tour 68,000 cubic feet of helium is needed to fly the Spirit of Safety Airships 20 European countries will be visited in the 2011 Goodyear Safety Tour 53mph is the Spirit of Safety Airship’s top speed. 79 years ago the Goodyear’s blimp, Volunteer, gave a local radio station a bird’s-eye view of the summer 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. 1911 was the year Goodyear first started to produce airship envelopes. 1955 was the first transcontinental telecast from a Goodyear Blimp when NBC televised the Tournament of Roses Parade in California. 1964’s James Bond film, Goldfinger – which starred Sean Connery – featured one of Goodyear’s blimps in the opening titles. 1976’s Black Sunday movie – which starred Robert Shaw - revolved around a plot to kill spectators in a terrorist act at the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida. Three Goodyear airships were used in the production 10,000ft is the maximum pressure height of the Spirit of Safety Airships

Specification of Goodyear Spirit of Safety I and II.Manufacturer: American Blimp Corporation Length: 128ft Width/Height: 36ft (W) x 44ft (H) Volume: 68,000 cubic feet of helium Illumination: Special internal illumination system

Cabin SpecificationsLength: 8.8 ft Width/Height: 5 ft (W) x 6.3ft (H) Passengers: 3, plus pilot (maximum capacity 5) Camera Capabilities: Gyro-stabilised camera mounting capabilities, providing an excellent platform for TV/Video photography.Performance SpecificationsCruising Speed 32mph (28 knots) Max speed: 53 mph (46 knots with favourable winds) Power: Twin, 80 horsepower Limbach engines Crew (incl ground staff): 13

For more information on Goodyear's Safety Tour visit Goodyear. For more information on the Goodyear Blimp click here.

And here's some photos....