Goodyear’s newest blimp is flying.
Wingfoot Three took off about 8:55 a.m. Monday at the Wingfoot Lake blimp base where it was built.
The semi-rigid airship revved its engines, disconnected from its mast truck, backed up and then slowly rose. The airship circled the blimp hangar and then headed out for its first flight test, which could last as long as six hours.
Wingfoot Three flew over Goodyear’s headquarters in East Akron, circling the building about 10 a.m. before going elsewhere.
Crew members pulled the airship from the hangar before 7 a.m. Some 161 gallons of 100-octane, low-lead aircraft fuel were pumped into the craft’s tanks, with the engines starting at 7:35 a.m.
Wingfoot Three remained anchored to its mast truck as the crew went through an extensive pre-flight checklist.
With all pre-flight items crossed off, crew members disconnected an electric line and took away the ladder from the gondola door. A metal cage at the front of the craft was taken off.
Then, the flight crew opened a valve that dumped gallons of water ballast underneath the gondola.
A crew member disconnected the mast truck from the blimp and Wingfoot Three was away.
The airship will be a familiar sight in Northeast Ohio skies since it will be based at the hangar in Portage County’s Suffield Township.
Technically, Wingfoot Three isn’t Goodyear’s blimp yet. It belongs to German manufacturer Zeppelin until the airship passes all of its tests – weeks more of flying – and then will be turned over to Goodyear.
Reporter Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ