By on March 4, 2011

Raise your hand if you’ve actually flown a Goodyear blimp for a solid forty-five minutes and actually made it go where you were supposed to take it.

I thought so. I’m the only guy with his hand up. Sucks to be you, you non-blimp-flyin’-mothertrucker.

To keep this from being Blimplopnik or whatever they’re calling Mr. Wert’s Wild Ride nowadays, I’m going to bring you content never seen before: blimp review emulation. Follow along as I review the Goodyear blimp, one paragraph at a time, in the style of each of our most famous contributors. This will be no worse than the Dune continuation books, I promise.

As Robert Farago:

The Spirit Of Goodyear is so grossly oversized, so blimp-like, that one is actually shocked by the modest yet antiquated accomodations available in the sheet-steel gondola. From the MG TD-style sliding curtain windows to the ridiculous faux-authenticity of the crooked rivet lines supposedly holding the thing together, it’s a stark statement of America’s inability to compete in the cut-throat airship business. Let’s not even begin to discuss the pathetic response from the twin overhead-valve engines or the roar which pervades the cabin like the death rattles of a terminally slain Cerberus. I despite this blimp, as I have despised every other blimp I’ve ever flown. Only the desperately credit-challenged would ever consider stepping into a Goodyear blimp when the Fuji blimps are available. I hate it. Look for it to find a permanent home in blimp rental fleets near you.

As Michael Karesh:

At my site, TrueDelta, we have yet to obtain the 2,300 responses from blimp owners which would be required to provide statistically trustworthy estimates of mean time between primary bag repair. Note that Consumer Reports received just one response, and it was the simple sentence “Blimps are awesome”. Based on that, they immediately elevated it to the “Recommended” category. You won’t find such shenanigans here at TrueDelta. Also, I thought the handling was delightful, with a touch of oversteer at the limit. Find out more at TrueDelta.

As Sajeev Mehta and Steven Lang:

Steve: We see about five of these blimps a year and I have plenty of success selling them to down-on-their-luck single-mother companies like Cooper and Nexxen. Make sure you take a close look at the rear seam where the left engine housing attaches; it’s a problem point.

Sajeev: The question I’m asking myself is whether or not the outboard engines could be replaced with LS7s. Also, could wood trim be applied to other parts of the blimp’s interior to match the real-wood elevator wheel?

As Edward Niedermeyer:

This is the blimp nobody’s asking for. Decades after the Germans suffered fiery disaster with their dirigibles, we’ve got Goodyear putting both feet into the blimp biz. You’d have to be crazy to think this will end well. As it flies over Lordstown, Ohio, home of the union-sop second-rate whip known to all and sundry outside Korea as “Cruze”, one wonders if the two could somehow collide and perform an elaborate synecdoche of the perils of collective bargaining.

As Bertel Schmitt:

The Chinese Goodyear blimp, Spirit of Innovation, is bigger, faster, and it will not fail. Blimp sales are up 300% according to the fellow who pulled my rickshaw home from the massage parlor this evening.

As Jack Baruth:

As I strafed the helpless people of Akron, cackling like Cruella deVille, watching them scatter beneath the looming mass, I saw the finest-looking bitch imaginable cowering in fear next to her infant child. Quickly, I moored to the nearest lamppost, using the power of my mind in place of the eight-person team normally assigned to the task, and bid her enter. She stripped off her clothes, lay back in the cramped six-passenger gondola, and I shoved my [blimp] into her [Wingfoot Lake hangar facility], lubricated only by the flood of her [rain on the blimp’s surface]. I noticed that there was no grass on the field, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

So there you have it. But what’s it really like to fly a blimp? In a nutshell, difficult, and someday I will tell you… but not now. I mean, it wouldn’t really fit in with the site’s mission, and I’m pretty sure there are a couple of people out there who would claim I was flying it wrong.

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68 Comments on “Capsule Review: The Spirit Of Goodyear...”

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    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Damn near fell out of my chair reading that.

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    Are you sure that was Ohio? The flight path was very erratic the last time it flew over my house. (Tampa)

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    My taxi driver in Tokyo said that Fuji blimps eat Goodyears for lunch. That true?  The ride back home from the Kabukicho strip joint came to $97. They really should stop keeping the yen artificially low.

    • 0 avatar

      As Consumer Reports:
      The Goodyear Blimp GZ-22 helium suspension delivers a very good ride for a lighter-than-air vehicle. The two 6 cylinder airplane engines are air cooled. They generate 210 horsepower each and can achieve a top speed of about 50 MPH. Seating for six is rated as unsafe due to the lack of seatbelts. Handling is best described as ponderous. Goodyear blimps cannot be rated this year due to the recent introduction of the GZ-22 model.  The previous model GZ-20 has been Much Worse Than Average in reliability.
      Fuji Blimps are rated highest in this category with a Much Better Than Average reliability rating and the highest ever ranking in the Road Test for a LTA vehicle. Fuji has not given each employee of CR a solid gold maneki-neko cat and remodeled our offices for better Feng-Shui as has been reported in some blogs. Fuji blimps are highly recommended by Consumer Reports.
      Body Style Blimp  Trim Lines None  Price You can’t afford it you capitalist slave Drive Wheels Propellers Seating 2/2/2 Engine 2 6 cyl Continentals (210 hp) Trans shaft Fuel 100LL Avgas

    • 0 avatar

      Nice CR rendition, seems pretty accurate to me.
      I have to admit, I’ve been curious about blimps. I think they could be awesome, if slightly deadly.

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    Oh my, excellent simulation!!!!!
    and Btw… Yes you are not flying it right,
    by not having a steering wheel means that you can Text, play GT5 and fly at the same time!!!!
    Saludos from Mexico.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    The average Goodyear blimp is hit by gunfire a couple dozen times per year.  The sheet steel gondola that Mr. Farago would probably disapprove of is bulletproof and the airbag is segmented so that any single hole can’t cause it to lose enough helium to crash – they just patch up the holes the next time they “land”

    • 0 avatar
      Self Destructo 2000

      When I was working for a downtown Los Angeles adult school, me and my coworkers saw this totally stoned and flying-high-as-a-kite meth-head whip out a semi-automatic rifle (couldn’t tell the make, but it was a carbine) empty a clip towards a Goodyear blimp flying overhead. This was maybe Thanksgiving of 2002. He also took potshots at a stray cat the week after.

    • 0 avatar

      One of the pilots I used to fly with was a former blimp Captain.  He once told me the story of his experiences flying the Metlife (w/ Snoopy) blimp in Chicago and how a heavy head wind overcame the engines at WOT and pushed him backwards towards a skyscraper.  Only his last minute maneuvering averted collision.  Me?  Never been in one.

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    I was literally LOLing at my desk!

    Spot on with the impersonations, I think this could be a new “Jack Thing”, but it only works when you do it on characters who are interesting writers to begin with. Don’t even try to do a C/D or MT review style, I’ll fall off my chair in boredem!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Is it funny enough to have Jack do this say… once a month?  Twice a year when the urge strikes him?  Would Jack have any interest in this?

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    Most enjoyable article!
    BTW, who the f*** shoots at blimps? Do they want to recreate the Hindenburg accident? (not possible BTW, different materials and gas used) And hitting it while they’re far up in the air must not be easy.

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    “I noticed that there was no grass on the field” because you were actually in Brazil, “if you know what I mean” …….

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    This is much too meta but I cannot stop laughing.

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    You owe my employer a new keyboard.  Nothing like snorting Dr. Pepper out your nose to mess up the review of last month’s Bombardier parts statement.

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    In Eugene, we have dozens of retired Goodyear blimp Curbside Classics, hanging semi-deflated from the street lights. Some sport psychedelic paint jobs, others are used as shelter by the homeless, and there’s at least one being used as a hookah bar. Coincidentally, I’ve just written a new Curbside Classic: The 1962 Goodyear Blimp – The Rosie O’Donnell of Blimps:

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    Baruth is the heir apparent to Hunter S. Thompson.  Please, please tell me he has a thermos of ether in the trunk of his car!

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    I don’t think JB as JB fully explored the handling limits of the blimp — which is to say there’s no mention of any sort of crash.

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    Can you do one as Blimplopnik? – Pleeease

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    absolutley awesome

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    I’ll never look at a blimp the same way again.

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    Unlike the Dune continuations, I made it all the way through AND enjoyed every second!

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    LOL once again JB you’ve knocked it out of the park.
    Also I leave not far from the Blimp Base in Pompano Beach FL, so I see the blimp quite often. I’ve often wondered how much it costs to fly the blimp on a “normal” day. I understand its well worth the $$$ during sporting events, but do they really just take the blimp out for spin sometimes?
    Somewhat related – my wife is a restaurant manager and one day an employee used the excuse “the blimp crashed and that caused me to be late”… and it turns out to be a completely true story:

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    I’ve just got a frown from my boss because I just LOL’ed in the office.
    You’re a bad man Baruth.

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    I’m the last guy to review a blimp. I get motion sickness in elevators, and have a touch of acrophobia as well, but how often do you get the chance to take the wheel… er stick of a genuine icon? Actually, the Goodyear Blimp’s motions are more gentle than even the BobLo Boats that used to carry Detroit autoworkers on their days off to an amusement park down the Detroit River. As we traveled in the blimp over the Motor City we could see Boblo Island off in the distance, while below the number of vacant and abandoned properties below us is painfully obvious.
    I haven’t processed all the stereo photos and video that I shot for CarsInDepth but the preliminary results are impressive.
    Disclaimer: I once had a set of Goodyears on my car.

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    Probably should have mentioned Panther Love under Sajeev. :o)

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    God damn, man. Brilliance. Absolute brilliance. It was worth the dozens of hours I’ve spent reading this site just to get the references in this post.
    Also, as a mid-’50s Popular Mechanics review:
    “A new entry in the mid-sized blimp class, the Spirit of Goodyear has long, low lines, and a refreshing lack of extra chrome. We would have liked to see a one-piece windshield and crash-padding, however. Mileage is good, and roadability is excellent, with almost no body roll and excellent isolation from even the roughest roads. Fingertip steering means that wives will be at home immediately.
    The Spirit is also tops in maneuverability – its small size makes parking a dream come true, particularly for those accustomed to larger vehicles such as the Chrysler Imperial and the Lincoln. And ride quality isn’t sacrificed, either; at higher speeds, you can almost forget that you’re not in a full-size blimp.
    Construction quality was excellent, with only five or six gallons of water entering the blimp during a brief summer shower, and oil needed to be added only twice in our 950 mile test.
    If you’re willing to suffer the overpowering social stigma of owning a smaller vehicle, the Spirit is well worth considering for its economy, ease-of-maneuvering, and stable, precise road-holding qualities compared to the competition.”

    • 0 avatar

      As usual, Popular Mechanics has revealed their bias against larger, aspirational vehicles.  Nobody would cross-shop an Imperial with a blimp of any kind.  Imperial’s main competition is the battleship, although it also ranks favorably against smaller and traditionally nimbler competitors such as battlecruisers, on the strength of its 413cid V8 and superior torsionaire suspension.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Yawn.  You forgot Blimp Deathwatch #1…

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    Funny stuff Jack, but surely Karesh would have commented on the seat headrests!

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    thats one fast cat

    Jack, very, very nice.
    But as Sajeev?  Where is the Panther love?
    And as yourself?  “Winning!” as they say.

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    I tried to get Bertel to write a book about the VW-Porsche saga, but he was afraid he’d be sued by Ferdie Piech. He didn’t even take my suggestion to fictionalize it. Now I’ll make a similar suggestion.
    Jack, you can make a fortune writing bodice-ripping novels.  Summer is coming, with a huge market for beach reading material. If you can crank out a trilogy by June, you’ll eventually be in position to own your own racing team, and possibly buy out TTAC. Send this post to publishers today.

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    The RF and Niedermeyer ones are about perfect.
    I think the Steven Lang one needs a reminder that we should all keep our blimps for at least 20 years because our shoes will have a bigger impact on our lives than our choice of blimp. And, we need to invest in mutual funds.
    Yours could use a line about all the F-18 moves you pulled off in the blimp.

    I also don’t know if MK would ever write “shenanigans”.

  • avatar

    Best blimp review ever!

  • avatar
    George B

    Jack, can the person flying the blimp change the messages displayed on the sides of the blimp?  You’re probably not going to get a chance to fly a B-29 over Tartan Fields, but think of the opportunities to insult the people of Dublin as you fly over with a mobile billboard.

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    The Peter Orosz review would somehow include Sumerian texts, detailed accounts of Eastern European society, and hyperspace modules.

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    Ability to fly a blimp is not available on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004. Rats. That’s all I will say on this article…I think…um…er…hmmm. I think I’ll go visit “CC” for a while now. Back this evening.

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    @jaybird124, @thats one fast cat: the connection between Panther Love and Flying Goodyears is relevant, but too obvious for us.  After all, both are blimps.

    • 0 avatar

      But the blimps handle better.

    • 0 avatar

      And cannot be replaced by big boned, Volvo-derived bodies of dubious style/swagger/fleet durability.

    • 0 avatar

      And where do you put the hood ornament? 

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      That’s a little cruel.
      It is Jack and Sajeev’s big in your face whip of choice.  And although I am only 33 yrs old I’m starting to think I’ll have one soon too just to experience one before the last “American style” vehicles go out of existence.  So one day I can say I knew what they were like.

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    My question for Jack is whether or not it was tragically underbraked.

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    N Number

    Very fun, Jack.

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    I’d like to meet the CR reviewer who stated “blimps are awesome”.
    That paragraph made my day.  Thanks……

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    That was great fun. My wife was in the other room asking me what I was laughing at. Well done.

  • avatar
    Cole Trickle

    Damn.  You know its good when I actually get out the netbook so I can comment on it.  Dear Jack, if you tell me how the *clever word for sex* I can comment on this *forsaken by the almighty” site from my Droid Inc. I’ll like you more than Sedaris.  Somebody should take a swing at doing some from the “best and brightest.”

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    This. Was. Awesome.

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    You are effen hilarious dude

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    The Jack Baruth section missed a perfect opportunity to mention a [dead heat in a Zeppelin race] when removing the young lady’s [underwired cargo holder].

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    Very funny.
    -But your Jack Baruth is a little off.
    The Actual Jack would have driven the blimp at 3 times the legal speed limit, then drifted it sideways into a middle school to slow down,
    while forcing all blimps behind his into a 9-blimp-pileup that eventually leveled the adjacent hydrogen storage depot in a 4-mile-diameter fireball that he miraculously escapes.
    He would have then closed the piece with a comment about the size of the girl’s lucite heels;
    and her boobs, as some type of value-qualification to the roomful of 7th graders still reading.
    -Otherwise, good.  /s  ;P

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    Totally hilarious!

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    Although Farago probably works in a v-word reference in a blimp review.

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    Spot on. Although I think Karesh would have mentioned his TrueDelta about 6 more times.

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    What will Baruth “review” next?  A boat? A crane?

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Around  Boston we  have  the  Hood blimp and the Fuji blimp . Neither seem  to be  that well  piloted.  When  I was  a kid in  the  50s, I used  to  watch   2 Navy  blimps   patrol  Massachusetts  Bay looking  for  subs. During WWII, a  blimp  fired  on  a  U boat steaming  on  the  surface. The deck watch unlimbered the 88 and  put  a 3 1/2″  hole  in  the gas  bag. After  that, blimp crews  were  told  not  to  engage  subs.

  • avatar

    Jeezo – Peezo ! I got off duty for a bit of surgery and look at what I missed .

    Very well done Jack .


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