Goodyear retiring blimps, rolling out new cigar-shaped craft

Goodyear Blimp to Retire

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The fabled Goodyear Blimp is retiring.

But don't fret, blimp fans. That big, cigar-shaped thing you've seen floating over sports events all your life will still be there. It will also remain instantly recognizable with its blue-and-gold Goodyear logo emblazoned across the side.

It just won't be, well, technically, a blimp.

But that's OK, too, because from the ground it won't look much different from Goodyear's Spirit of America, which was deflated and disassembled earlier this month after a farewell flight across California.

See the iconic blimps:

10 PHOTOS
Goodyear blimps
See Gallery
Goodyear retiring blimps, rolling out new cigar-shaped craft
15th March 1972: Goodyear airship 'Europa'. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
1st June 1972: The Goodyear Airship 'Europa' gliding above a cityscape. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
5th March 1972: The Goodyear Airship 'Europa' with her American chief pilot, Richard Widdicombe. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 16: The Goodyear blimp flies overhead during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 16: The Goodyear blimp flies overhead during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 16: A general view of the grandstand during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JUNE 29: T Goodyear airship is scene above the course during the third round of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club on June 29, 2013 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JUNE 29: The Goodyear airship floats over the clubhouse during the third round of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club on June 29, 2013 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JUNE 29: The Goodyear airship floats over the clubhouse during the third round of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club on June 29, 2013 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
UNIVERSITY PLACE, WA - JUNE 20: The Goodyear blimp is seen over the course during the third round of the 115th U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay on June 20, 2015 in University Place, Washington. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"It's a brand new design. It is a much larger airship. It's a semi-rigid dirigible," Goodyear's Priscilla Tasker said of the new fleet of non-blimps replacing the company's three aging U.S. airships.

In air-speak that means the new model has a fixed structure holding its big, gassy balloon in place. That's unlike a blimp, which goes flat when the helium is removed.

"But the most impressive features are the glass cockpit that is all fly-by-wire, the most state-of-the-art avionics in airships today," Tasker said.

The first of the new models, Ohio-based Wingfoot One, took to the sky last year, replacing the 14-year-old Spirit of Goodyear. The last of the old ones, Florida-based Spirit of Innovation, will fly to California next month to replace Spirit of America while its replacement is being built. After that, Spirit of Innovation will be retired.

The new ships, with three engines instead of two, will be able to hit freeway speeds of 73 mph and make less racket getting from place to place. They'll also be more maneuverable. And they'll still be carried aloft by helium.

The overhaul comes on the 90th anniversary of Goodyear's entry into the dirigible business, but there's more than a birthday bash involved.

Most people who see the iconic blimp hovering overhead are at a sporting event or major entertainment show like the Academy Awards.

But the ship isn't there just to show off. The people inside its gondola are filming the bird's-eye-view scenes you see on television, and they say they'll be able to do that better with a faster, more maneuverable craft.

With quieter engines you might not hear the new one coming. But it will be harder to miss once it gets there: The replacement models are 246 feet long, nearly the length of a football field and 50 feet longer than the old ones.

More on AOL.com
Jerry Seinfeld's lemonade stand shut down by cops
Parents can't keep up with their children's rising college tuition costs
Bronx zoo puts adorable baby porcupine on display

Read Full Story