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
"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