New Goodyear blimp gives lift to its christener

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AKRON, Ohio (AP) — The newest addition to Goodyear's blimp fleet gave a lift to the woman who came up with its name.

The Ohio woman who won a national contest to name Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s newest airship earned a ride this week on the blimp that will help replace the company's aging fleet. The flight lasting about an hour was Charlotte White's prize for coming up with the name "Wingfoot One," the Akron Beacon Journal ( reported.

"It was quiet," White, 76, of Akron, said. "It really was like riding in a boat."

White's proposal was among about 15,000 names submitted. Goodyear's corporate symbol is the "Wingfoot," invoking Mercury, the speedy Roman god of commerce, trade and messages.

More than 2,000 people attended the blimp's christening last month. The semi-rigid airship — technically not a blimp because of its internal frame — is longer, wider and faster than Akron-based Goodyear's two other U.S.-based blimps and can hover like a helicopter.

Goodyear expects to build two more airships in collaboration with Germany-based ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik to replace older blimps in its U.S. fleet.

The flight from Goodyear's blimp base near Akron marked the third time White had ever flown, and she said the experience was better than expected.

White acknowledged being nervous before going up with fellow passengers, who included her husband and her church pastor. She said they held hands and prayed for a safe flight and "good pilots" before takeoff. But she enjoyed the ride and said she would go up again.

White said she had hoped to at least win a set of tires as a runner-up, but never expected to win a ride. She said she came up with the name quickly.

"This is their first Zeppelin. It just sounded like Wingfoot One," White said.


Information from: Akron Beacon Journal,

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