Sunday, December 08, 2002


It's the weirdest thing. Yesterday on the way to the motorcycle show, I saw the Budweiser blimp. Can Miller blimp jokes be far behind?

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Hey look it’s the Goodrich Blimp!

Well, not really, as they don’t have a blimp. Heck, even Goodyear doesn’t have that many blimps anymore. Of course, that's the point; back in the '70's Goodrich ran ads as the tire company without the blimp. I suppose the implication was "We cut out the blimp and passed the savings on to you."

But I did see one of them, it’s based here in Southern California and was floating over the freeway, heading south on a mission. I’d guess that mission was to either sell more tires or broadcast the same tired aerial shots of some sports stadium, but who knows for sure?

When I was a kid, there was a blimp base just north of my hometown, Houston. It flew around the city every so often, and made a very distinctive, very loud buzzing noise. (More on that later) At the time, this was a Big Event. All the neighborhood kids would run out into the street and try to decipher the primitive flashing light based graphics (I’m sure they were some Goodyear promotional messages), as the behemoth floated lazily by.

Once, when I was about 8, I got to take a ride in it. (Helllooooo connections). One of the other dads in my Y Indian Guides group worked for Goodyear and set up the whole thing.

We had to show up at this slightly space age looking facility built into an earthen wall and wait for our time slot. At the time, I was feeling a bit disappointed that my Dad wouldn’t be riding with me, but I was looking forward to it anyway. He had to leave town, but would never miss a boondoggle like this one, and arranged to ride with a different group. You don’t really understand scheduling as a youngster, so I was a bit hurt that he didn’t fly with me. (It’s ok Dad, I forgive you!)

Anyway, when our turn arrived, we walked out onto the big grassy area where at least a dozen guys were holding the blimp down by some big lines hanging off the nose. After the previous group got out, we piled in. The gondola was about the size of a big van if I recall correctly, with windows all the way around and 8 – 12 seats. I don’t really remember much about the ride itself, but the takeoff and landing were very memorable.

First of all, that thing was LOUD; my clearest single memory of the trip was that it was very noisy. When we took off, the ground crew dropped the lines, and the nose angled up while the pilot hit the engines. The nose must have been at least 35 degrees off horizontal, which may not sound like much, be let me assure you, made quite an impression on the passengers. Landing was basically the reverse; we flew up to the airfield and then pushed the nose way down. So far down that all you could see from the front windows was the ground. Then the crew rushed up to grab the lines as the pilot cut the power. Very Cool.

Anyway, I hope it doesn't hit Tony's black helicopter. I'm sure the xbi wouldn't appreciate it.