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3 comments

Goodyear Blimp Control Gondola Retires to Smithsonian

Posted November 22, 2011 9:00 AM by dstrohl

The Goodyear blimp and its brethren are as much a part of our transportation history as any automobile thanks to flying about in a way that harkens back to when the word airship was a part of lexicon. The blimp is not a dirigible - that is the airship retains its shape through pneumatic means, like a tire. Blimp control gondola C-49 will join the control gondola from the original Goodyear blimp Pilgrim (shown above) at the Smithsonian this week. The C-49 was originally affixed to the blimp Enterprise in 1934, and pushed into service during World War II as a Navy submarine patrol and ship escort as the L-5. After postwar storage, C-49 was affixed to the blimp Columbia until retirement in 1986. The Columbia worked with ABC, CBS, NBC, and floated over the 1977, 1980, 1983, and 1985 Super Bowls. The Columbia loafed above the 1984 Summer Olympics and displayed countless messages beyond the preservation of lighter than air blimps into the consciousness of millions of Americans from its hanger in Tustin, California. Control gondola C-49 will continue to carry its lofty message from its perch at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

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Re: Goodyear Blimp Control Gondola Retires to Smithsonian

11/23/2011 1:11 AM

It is incorrect to say that a blimp is not a dirigible. The word "dirigible" means "steerable", not "rigid". It has even been used to describe torpedoes that can be directed to their target after they are launched. Although a blimp uses a different system of maintaining the shape and integrity of its gas bags, it is certainly steerable.

The word "dirigible" came to be associated with the type of rigid airship invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, to distinguish it from tethered or free observation balloons, whose altitude could be controlled, but not their speed or direction.

The steerable airship was first utilized as a weapon of war. It later expanded its role from purely military uses to the civilian travel industry. Unfortunately, the use of airships for civilian transport essentially disappeared after the Hindenberg disaster in 1937.

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Re: Goodyear Blimp Control Gondola Retires to Smithsonian

11/23/2011 2:13 PM

I have always subscribed to the school thinking that the inventor of the flyable, steerable, lighter than air rigid airship was David Schwarz. Although it is disputed, I believe Graf Zeppelin purchased the patents and design information from his widow.

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Re: Goodyear Blimp Control Gondola Retires to Smithsonian

11/24/2011 4:53 PM

Hanger?

--Ed. C.

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