Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

It’s Blimp Time


It’s summer and seems like the Goodyear blimp has been hovering over Hancock Park rather regularly. Or Dodger Stadium. Or the beach.

Which makes one wonder, eyes drawn skyward, what is that dirigible doing overhead whose drone is often heard before it comes slowly into view?

At times, as for sports events or the Academy Awards, it provides camera coverage- the wide bird’s-eye view of a location or event. But most of the time, it is just a slow moving advertisement for the Goodyear company that has been seen in our skies since 1925.

Saul Gonzalez of KCRW’s Which Way LA? took a flight aboard the 190 foot “Spirit of America” based in Carson CA and shared some facts and photos about the Goodyear blimp  that soars regularly over us here in Southern California, including:

  • Filled with helium and lighter than air – the blimp just wants to rise vertically, so needs the engine to keep her moving forward. She holds a 30 degree angle at take off and flies at 1000 – 1500 feet.
  • None of the controls have hydraulics, so controlling the rudder or elevator is a job the pilot really “feels” in their hands and arms.
  • There are more astronauts than blimp pilots in the world.  A ground crew is needed to both release and haul in the large floater. Seventeen people maintain the blimp program.
  • Goodyear doesn’t get paid for flying over the many events it covers, it trades camera coverage for on-air advertising spots on television.
  • Traveling at only 30 mph, it takes two days to fly from LA to San Francisco, and requires the coordination of a full ground crew which follows along by road.

Check out Gonzalez’s full story and some great pics on the KCRW site.

KCRW’s Which Way LA: The Secret Life of the Goodyear Blimp

Photo credit: Saul Gonzalez / KCRW
Ground crew pulling in the mooring lines at landing. Photo credit: Saul Gonzalez / KCRW
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Julie Grist
Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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