Goodyear and Zeppelin: Together again after 70 Years

by Dan on May 3, 2011

Beginning in January, 2014, the famous “Goodyear Blimp” won’t be a blimp at all, but a Zeppelin NT.

More than 70 years after the dissolution of the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, the two companies are working together again.

Zeppelin NT in Goodyear colors

The Zeppelin NT with Goodyear Branding during a charter tour through the Benelux states in summer 2010. Photo: Chris Schotanus

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has just announced plans to purchase three Zeppelin LZ N07-101 (a successor to the current LZ N07-100) from ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH & Co KG.

Goodyear’s director of Global Airship Operations, Nancy Jandrokovic, explained: “Our current airships are approaching the end of their lifecycle, and we saw this as an opportunity to take the next evolutionary step in our airship program.”

In a move reminiscent of the Goodyear-Zeppelin glory days of the 1920s and 1930s, the three airships will be assembled by Zeppelin and Goodyear teams working together at Goodyear’s Wingfoot lake airship hangar near Akron, Ohio, under the direction of Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik.

Goodyear-Zeppelin Airdock

Goodyear-Zeppelin Airdock

Goodyear and Zeppelin began their close relationship in October, 1922, when Goodyear executive William C. Young went to Friedrichshafen, Germany, to propose a joint venture to Hugo Eckener and other leaders of the Zeppelin Company.  In September, 1923, the two companies created the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation.  Goodyear president Paul W. Litchfield was a leading supporter of the rigid airship and the two firms worked closely throughout the 1920s and 1930s.  Zeppelin captain Ernst Lehmann and engineer Karl Arnstein, along with other Zeppelin personnel, moved to Akron, Ohio to help Goodyear-Zeppelin build airships using Zeppelin Company patents.  The culmination of the joint venture was the construction of the airships Akron and Macon for the United States Navy in the early 1930s.  Relations between the companies became strained after the outbreak of World War II in 1939 and the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation was dissolved in December, 1940.

Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik was founded in 1993 and is a successor to the famous Luftschiffbau Zeppelin (the Zeppelin Company) which built German zeppelins from 1909 through 1939, including the LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin and the LZ-129 Hindenburg.

Hat Tip to Zeppelin pilot Hans-Paul Ströhle for letting us know about this development.

Links:

Goodyear Press Release

Zeppelin Press Release [PDF download]

Goodyear Zeppelin Comparison Fact Sheet [PDF download]

Goodyear to clear air of blimps [article from Ohio.com]

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    { 6 comments… read them below or add one }

    Nat Williams March 26, 2014 at 10:30 am

    It’s great to see the new ships fly the Goodyear name in such grand style. It was 50 years ago this fall that the Goodyear blimp n2a ( Columbia ) Set to the air over Las Angeles. I was one of several new airship crewman hired to handle the new ship and traveled with the ship for two years. That was a mile stone in my life and I owe much to that experience. I was 25 years of age and would still love to grab a nose line and feel the great joy of being a part again of such a great tradition and enjoy the pride and fellowship I had there with the crew. May I suggest the name be (Columbia 2) for the L A ship, Thanks Nat Williams

    Reply

    DB EDWARDS January 31, 2013 at 12:50 am

    GREAT NEWS! It’s about time the Glory and Majesty of the Zeppelin was resurrected, and by the company that really began the phenomenon with the AKRON AND MACON. Bravo Isay. To Bigger and Better Zeppelins gracing our sky.

    Reply

    K January 5, 2013 at 11:52 am

    And the first container was shipped last year:

    http://www.suedkurier.de/region/bodenseekreis-oberschwaben/friedrichshafen/Zeppelin-NT-Teile-auf-dem-Weg-in-die-USA;art372474,5650369

    Assembly due to beginn in the first quarter of 2013.

    Reply

    David Rakestraw June 23, 2012 at 12:44 am

    This is one of the most saddest things I could possibly imagine. That 70 years of not working together was also 70 years of GZ-19s and GZ-20s. And now they’re going to end that. I like Zeppelins but the Goodyear Blimp shall remain a Blimp as it always has.

    Reply

    Mr. Anne Knevelman March 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Was rummaging through some old papers of a deceased uncle and found envelope (Pittsburg Aug 10 1932) with 2 snapshots – one of a Zeppelin airdock and one of the Goodyear Defender. On the back of the airdock photograph: “The hangar of the “Akron” located in Akron Ohio”. So it was a nice surprise to find the full color picture on your blog – thanks!

    Reply

    qwerty1138 November 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I actually saw a zeppelin similar to the zeppelin at the top of the page, it was the Farmers Airship at the 2011 EAA Airventure. I’m glad that the zeppelin is making its way back in to the sky.

    Reply

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