Photos: A ride on the Goodyear blimp

Goodyear blimp

Credit: WFAA

The iconic Goodyear blimp is paying a rare visit to North Texas for coverage of the Texas-Oklahoma game at the Cotton Bowl on October 12, 2013.

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by TED MADDEN

WFAA

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 11:17 PM

"We've covered Super Bowls," said Doug Grassian. "We've covered NBA Finals. We've covered World Series."

The Goodyear blimp has all the major sports covered from 1,000 feet in the air.

Grassian is the Senior Airship Communications Manager for Goodyear. "We've covered the Grammys," he continued. "We've covered the Daytime Emmy Awards. We've covered the Latin Billboard Awards."

Goodyear has three blimps in its fleet — one based in Ohio, another in California, and the one in North Texas this week, the Spirit of Innovation, which is based in Florida.

Corky Belanger is the pilot. "I grew up around blimps. I think my first blimp ride was when I was three months old," he said. "My dad flew for Goodyear out of California."

Belanger is from Mesquite, and says it takes five days to fly from Florida to North Texas. The blimp's top speed is just 50 miles per hour (but it usually cruises around 30 mph), and it can travel 250-300 miles per day.

That's why we rarely see the Goodyear blimp in North Texas; Belanger said this is the Spirit of Innovation's first trip to the area in about 10 years.

"The market is great for us, obviously," said Grassian. "Lots of sporting events, big city, tons of stuff to look at. So we like coming here... it's just tough to get here."

The blimp's first big event was in 1955 at the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California. Since then, it has become an iconic image floating above major sporting events.

On Saturday, weather permitting, it will fly above the Cotton Bowl for the Texas-Oklahoma game. And one Longhorns fan will be watching from 1,000 feet above.

"I'm a Texas fan, so I'll say Texas by 3," Belanger predicted, adding: "I hope."

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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