he Goodyear Blimp can be seen flying over London this week as the tyre-branded airship takes a tour of the city’s landmarks ahead of the British Touring Car Championship this weekend.
Although blimps are common fixtures of US sporting events, they’re a much rarer sight here in the UK.
Therefore, it’s not surprising if Londoners are confused about the giant Goodyear-branded airship flying over our city this week.
So what is a blimp and why is there one flying over London?
What is a blimp?
A blimp is an airship that relies on internal gas to maintain its shape. Blimps were originally used by navies in World War I, but are now mostly used for advertising purposes.
The origin of the word “blimp” is unclear, but according to Britannica, the most common explanation is that it comes from “British Class B airship” plus “limp” (because the airship is non-rigid).
The Goodyear blimp is a semi-rigid Zeppelin NT airship that is 75m-long and has a maximum speed of 78mph. It carries two pilots and up to 14 passengers and its ideal cruising height is 300m.
Why is the Goodyear Blimp in London?
The Goodyear Blimp is in the UK to film aerial views of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch on May 14 and 15.
In the days leading up to the event, the blimp will be flying over London and the south of the UK to promote Goodyear’s latest tyre.
The blimp will fly past the city’s landmarks, including The Shard, the London Eye, and the Tower of London.
Next week, the blimp will head to racing events in three German cities before attending Le Mans in France, followed by a visit to Milan.
How to win a flight on the Goodyear Blimp
Goodyear is running a giveaway on Facebook that will see a lucky winner and a friend enjoy a flight over London on Saturday.
To enter, head to Goodyear’s Facebook page and like it, then tag a friend in the comments of the contest post.
Entries close at 7.30am on Friday, May 13, and the winner will be announced shortly after.
How many blimps are there in the world?
It is estimated that there are 25 blimps left in the world today, but only around half of them are still in use for advertising, as reported by Reader’s Digest.
Four of them are Goodyear Blimps–there are three in the US and one in Europe.