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Goodyear Blimp Makes Farewell Stop In Eugene

Karen Richards

The blimp flying over Eugene the past few days is on a summer farewell tour. Goodyear’s 13-year old “Spirit of America,” is being decommissioned in August.

The blimp is being replaced by a zeppelin, a more maneuverable craft with some internal structure. Eddie Ogden is a historian for Goodyear. He says Eugene is a great location for customer appreciation flights:

Ogden: “We came in to Eugene, because first of all we haven’t been here since 2007, and it was a good stop on the way up to Washington where the U.S. Open is being held.”

Pilot William Bayliss is enjoying the scenery along the way:

Bayliss: “We don’t travel much. It costs a lot, as you can imagine with this operation. We’ve got 21 people that always travel with an airship, it takes 15 people to launch and land one of these things not including the pilot.”

Blimp pilots and staff are patient. The airship won’t fly if it’s rainy or cloudy. Friday, it was too gusty for some of the scheduled flights. Bayliss says shifty wind is challenging for a blimp:

Credit Karen Richards
The gondola of the Spirit of America

Bayliss: “It can get away from you and this is the only type of aircraft in which we do an emergency takeoff. So the most dangerous part is being close to the ground.”

Bayliss says Goodyear takes pride in safety, and no passengers have been injured in nearly 100 years of flight.

The Spirit of America plans to stop in Eugene on its way back down the coast, June 22nd.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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