The Goodyear GZ-20 was a blimp (non-rigid airship) class introduced in 1969 in the United States by Goodyear as its signature promotional aircraft, the Goodyear Blimp. The design is a development of the GZ-19 class, featuring a larger envelope to carry the "Super-Skytacular" night sign and more powerful engines. The GZ-20s were the mainstay of Goodyear's airship fleet until 2017, when they were replaced with the Zeppelin NT semi-rigid airship.
|Spirit of Innovation|
|Role||blimp (non-rigid airship)|
|National origin||United States|
|Primary user||Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company|
The GZ-20 was introduced as part of a US$4 million expansion program by Goodyear in 1968 that included the construction of a new GZ-19 Florida-based airship (Mayflower N1A), replacement of the California-based GZ-19 with a GZ-20 (Columbia N4A), adding a third airship to the fleet (GZ-20 America N3A) and constructing a new airship base at Spring, Texas as home to the new blimp.
In 1972, a third GZ-20 was built to be the first Goodyear Blimp stationed outside the United States. Christened Europa N2A. her structural elements were freighted from the Goodyear factory in Akron, Ohio to the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Cardington, Bedfordshire, England on an Aero Spacelines Mini Guppy to be erected there but based at a new facility at Capena, Italy near Rome.
In 1978, the GZ-19 class was discontinued after the loss of Mayflower N38A. It was replaced by the GZ-20 Mayflower N3A.
As of 2017, All three of Goodyear's GZ-20As have been decommissioned.
The blimp received a Guinness World Record for the longest continuous operated airship with fourteen years of service.
Goodyear Airship Operations started production of Zeppelin NT semi-rigid airships beginning in 2013 at the cost of approximately US$21 million per airship. Goodyear's first Zeppelin NT first took flight on March 17, 2014.
After 14 years in the skies, on February 23, 2014, Spirit of Goodyear was retired in Pompano Beach after the 2014 Daytona 500. The Spirit of Goodyear's gondola was donated to the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
On August 10, 2015, the California-based GZ-20, the Spirit of America, was decommissioned after 13 years of operation. In September 2015, Spirit of Innovation, the world's only remaining active GZ-20, was relocated to Carson, California from its former base in Pompano Beach, Florida. Spirit of America's gondola was donated to the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California.
On March 14, 2017, "Spirit of Innovation" was retired and dismantled at Goodyear's base in Carson, California. The Spirit of Innovation's gondola is stored at Goodyear's Wingfoot Lake Airship Base in Suffield, Ohio. Wingfoot Two, Goodyear's newest Zeppelin NT, has taken over operations in California.
As of October 2018, there are 5 GZ-20 gondolas stored or on display in the United States.
- C-49, most recently known as Columbia, is currently on display, mostly restored and equipped with engine nacelles and landing gear, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia
- 4116, most recently known as Stars and Stripes, which crashed in 2005, is stored at the Wingfoot Lake Hangar in Suffield Township, Portage County, Ohio.
- 4117, most recently known as the Spirit of America, is on display at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California.
- 4118, most recently known as the Spirit of Goodyear, is on display at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
- 4119, most recently known as the Spirit of Innovation, is stored at the Wingfoot Lake Hangar in Suffield Township, Portage County, Ohio.
- Crew: One pilot
- Capacity: 6 passengers
- Length: 192 ft 6 in (58.67 m)
- Diameter: 45 ft 11 in (14.00 m)
- Width: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
- Height: 59 ft 6 in (18.14 m)
- Volume: 202,700 ft3 (5,380 m3)
- Empty weight: 9,375 lb (4,252 kg)
- Gross weight: 12,840 lb (5,824 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Continental IO-360-D, 210 hp (157 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)
- Endurance: 23 hours
- Service ceiling: 7,500 ft (2,285 m)
- Rate of climb: 2,400 ft/min (12.2 m/s)
- Mackinnon, Jim (2014-03-17). "Goodyear's Next Generation Iconic Airship Takes Flight". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
- "Iconic Goodyear Blimp Retires after Daytona 500" (Press release). Goodyear. 2014-02-24. Archived from the original on 2014-03-15. Retrieved 2014-02-26.
- Taylor 1976, p. 596.