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Thu, Nov 17, 2011

Goodyear Blimp Gondola Heads For Smithsonian

Car C-49 Served Military, Civilian Missions For 50+ Years

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is donating the Goodyear blimp gondola, or car C-49, to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. C-49 car is going to the Smithsonian on the heels of last year's donation of a lifeboat used on the 1911 airship, Vaniman's Akron, which utilized Goodyear's first airship envelope.

"The C-49 is a welcome addition to our collection as it fairly represents the scope of military and commercial roles played by the Goodyear blimps," said Tom Crouch, the Museum's senior curator of aeronautics. It will have a place of honor, joining the control car of the first Goodyear blimp, Pilgrim, in the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

The C-49 was first put into service as the Goodyear blimp Enterprise on August 23, 1934. For the next eight years it flew the Goodyear brand and company guests over scores of large and small towns such as Detroit; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Louisville, Kentucky; and Allentown, Pennsylvania.

In 1942, like some active Goodyear blimps, the C-49 was sold to the U.S. Navy and designated L-5 where it served until 1946. Goodyear made and supplied hundreds of airships to the U.S. Navy during World War II. The Navy used airships for submarine patrol during naval convoy deployments, coastal and inland patrol and trainers. When used on convoy escort duty, the Navy never recorded losing a ship.

Following the war, Goodyear repurchased C-49 and stored it as a spare in the company's airship hangar at Wingfoot Lake in Suffield, Ohio. The car was rebuilt in 1969 and put back into service as the Columbia N4A in 1975. (Pictured: Company photo shows launch of Columbia N4A from MCAS Trustin in California about 1978.)

From 1975 to 1986 Columbia N4A flew tens of thousands of Goodyear customers and thousands of hours of night sign messaging. It saw duty over the 1977, 1980, 1983 and 1985 Super Bowls; the 1981 and 1984 World Series; Rose Bowl games and parades as well as the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California.

The Columbia N4A C-49 car was permanently retired in 1986 and once again stored at Suffield. It made its final journey to the Smithsonian on Tuesday.

Goodyear owns and operates three airships in the United States and frequently leases airships in other countries around the world.



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