Blimp Science

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1. Material

The new Blimp's envelope is made from a newer, much lighter compound that is comprised of polyurethane, polyester and a Kevlar® like material called Tedlar®.

2. Paint

A special Blimp-specific paint formulation is applied using a unique laser-based application process to create the look shown here.

3. Seal

To ensure helium retention, and protect against ultraviolet light, pollution and rupture, the finished, shaped envelope is secured using space-age heat seal technology.

4. Ballonet, Valve & Blower

Ballonet air bags inside the envelope maintain the perfect shape and assist with trim and weight distribution, while the air valve and blower allow the pilot to exhaust and add air when needed.

5. Ballast

The new water ballast — which holds up to 185 gallons, or approximately 1,385 pounds, of water — allows the pilot to harmlessly reduce weight while in flight.

1. Construction

The new Blimp's gondola is made completely of a carbon-fiber composite that weighs in at 2,626 pounds — making it more than 800 pounds lighter than previous models.

2. Seating & View

With seating for 12 and panoramic windows all around, the new Blimp offers a comfortable ride that provides spectacular aerial views for its passengers.

3. Passenger Entry

A wide, comfortable passenger ladder and a large doorway near the rear of the gondola make it easy for passengers to enter, find a seat and exit after their ride.

4. Restroom

The new Blimp is the first Goodyear model to have an on-board restroom, which is similar to those found on airplanes, for passengers and crew.

5. Ground Support Rack

When secured to the mast, the equipment on the ground support rack supplies power to run equipment like the blowers and instrument panel, and can be used to start the forward engines if desired.

1. Engines

Three four-cylinder, 200-horsepower engines are located on either side of the envelope and at the tail and can propel the airship at speeds of up to 73 miles per hour.

2. Tail Wheel

The new airship’s lower profile brings the tail section closer to the ground and is designed to allow the rear section of the craft to rest on its absorber and tire.

3. Tail Fins

The new Blimp has an "inverted Y" configuration at the tail, and the fin control surfaces operate in tandem as "ruddervators" for directional navigation using fly-by-wire electrical control.

4. Side Stick Controls

Located next to both left and right seats, these electrical controls are used to steer the Blimp left and right, up and down, using the main three tail fin control surfaces.

5. Overhead Panel

Individual circuit breakers allow pilots or mechanics to isolate and control any piece of equipment including the engine, fuel system, air and helium, radio, exterior lighting and more.

1. Nose Cone

One of the few external rigid points on the GZ-20’s envelope, it holds the battens, attachments for the nose lines and the mooring spindle.

2. Material

The largest component of the Blimp, the GZ-20’s envelope is made of two-ply, neoprene-impregnated polyester fabric.

3. Ballonet

Located in the forward and aft of the envelope, these air bags allow the pilot to regulate the amount of helium in the Blimp and statically trim the ship in a nose-up or nose-down situation.

4. Helium Valve

This safety valve — which can be operated manually and will also open automatically at a pre-set pressure — keeps the helium from exceeding the envelope’s maximum pressures.

5. Air Scoops

These devices take air that’s discharged from the propeller back up into the envelope to fill the ballonets when needed.

1. Construction

Made of aluminum on a welded steel frame, the gondola of the GZ-20 is 22.75 feet long and weighs in at just over 3,400 pounds.

2. Seating & View

The gondola of the GZ-20 is capable of holding one pilot and six passengers, and offers spectacular aerial views to everyone aboard.

3. Weather Radar Dome

This device holds the cold-weather radar panel that keeps the pilot informed of current and impending weather conditions.

4. Avionics Antenna

Attached to the exterior of the gondola, this device allows the pilots to communicate with ground support and other aircraft.

1. Engines

The GZ-20 uses two air-cooled, 6-cylinder, AVGAS fueled airplane engines that can propel the Blimp to top speeds of almost 50 miles per hour.

2. Rudder

Located at the rear of the envelope, the GZ-20 has top and bottom movable fins that control the left and right direction of the Blimp.

3. Boost Tab

This is a small movable part of the lower rudder that provides a passive assist to the main rudder movement.

4. Elevator

Also located to the left and right at the rear of the envelope, these movable fins control the up and down direction of the Blimp.

5. Controls

The prop pitch, prop reverse, throttles, rudder pedals, elevator wheel and other instruments, allow the to can control all aspects of the Blimp’s flight.

Airship Types

Semi-Rigid Airships

Semi-rigid airships, such as the new Goodyear Blimp, have an internal rigid lower or upper frame and a pressurized envelope. Previous to the new Goodyear Blimp, the most famous of this type was NORGE, the airship which General Umberto Nobile used on his attempt to reach the North Pole.

Non-Rigid Airships

These airships have no internal frame. The internal pressure of the lifting gas (non-flammable helium) and air-filled ballent bags maintain the shape of the envelope, the airship's polyester fabric skin. The only solid structural parts are external: the passenger car, the nose battens (hollow aluminum tubes at the nose of the Blimp) and the tail fins.

Rigid Airships

Rigid airships have an internal frame. The Zeppelins and the U.S.S. Akron and Macon were famous rigid airships. The rigid structure, traditionally an aluminum alloy, holds up the form of the airship. In general, rigid airships are only efficient when longer than 120 Meters (360 feet) because a good weight to volume ratio is (or was) only achievable for large airships. For a small airship the solid frame would have been too heavy.

Blimp Facts: Science & Technology
The usual cruising speed for a GZ-20 is 35 miles per hour in a zero wind condition; all-out top speed is 50 miles per hour on the GZ-20 and 73 mph for the new Goodyear Blimp.