2021 – An airship flyed the skies of Milan

The Blimp Goodyear airship was a comeback in style. The name of the American company is synonymous with tires, but with it the iconic “Blimp” airship, a symbol that has existed for over a century, also comes to mind.

He had been away from Milan for over 10 years and that of Saturday 17 July was a very special event. A wonderful guest in the skies of Milan, the legendary Goodyear airship flew over the city after taking off from Vairano di Vidigulfo, an airfield on the border of the province of Pavia, which became the take-off and landing base for two days, and then followed on 18 July the 6 Hours of Monza, the second round of the FIA ​​WEC (World Endurance Championship).

The presence of the airship has clearly not escaped many Milanese, who have been able to immortalize, with their nose up, a magical moment, given that the airship, with its spectacular appearances, represents a real icon on a global level, even because, by now, these “beasts of the sky” are more unique than rare.

The Blimp we are talking about, however, is not what we remembered, built by Goodyear until several decades ago. Today Goodyear no longer produces its own Blimp: the one operating in Europe is a Zeppelin NT managed by the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei company, the result of a collaborative relationship between the two companies that has lasted for almost a century and which, at a certain point in the 1930s, also saw the birth of the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation. Although known by the name “Blimp”, which in English is used to indicate an aircraft that is not entirely rigid, specifically each Goodyear airship has its own name and the one that landed in Italy is called “Europe”. The same name of the Blimp who almost fifty years ago made his first trip to the old continent, becoming famous in the following years, with the participation in numerous sporting events of international caliber. It was the GZ20A model, which first flew through the air in 1972 in Cardington, England.

The current one has an internal structure composed of aluminum and carbon fiber trusses, with two main parts: the cabin in the lower part, also known as the gondola, and the envelope, containing the balloon filled with helium. To ensure safe helium retention, the casing is made with a special heat seal. The gondola is instead made of a carbon fiber compound and has a maximum of 14 seats, with the ascent and descent taking place via a ladder and a large door at the back. This model is also the first Goodyear brand to offer an onboard bathroom, much like those found on regular airliners.

This new “giant of the skies”, 75 meters long, can reach a maximum speed of 125 km / h and a cruising height of 300 meters. These data give us the idea what an airship flight isa truly unique experience. Those who have made it say how impressive it is to discover with what gentleness and calm the departure and arrival take place. “It almost seems to travel on a cloud”, lacking that agitation that can be experienced with a helicopter flight or a classic airliner. Thanks also to the excellent weather conditions, the flight over Milan offered the lucky passengers breathtaking views, in the most absolute quiet, with even the windows open to admire the green plains between Pavia and Milan, to then see the San Siro stadium quite closely and the three Citylife Towers.