The current Goodyear Blimps have been watching NFL games from the sky since 1969, and now, just like a player who's been on the receiving end of too many bad tackles, it's time to retire in favor of something younger and faster. So taking the place of the aging GZ-20 blimps are three new Zeppelin NTs, which you can see being built in the video above.
Goodyear says the new flying balloon-like vessels are quicker, more agile, and less expensive. Which is exactly what old quarterbacks being put out to pasture have been hearing since the beginning of professional football. The footage shows the NTs being assembled by German manufacturer ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik last week in a Goodyear hangar in Suffield Ohio.
In the video, you see workers installing an envelope over an aluminum and carbon fiber frame. The envelope is the thing that holds in the air that makes the blimp float. The ship isn't complete yet, but that was an important part of the installation process of the NT, which stands for "Neue Technologie," which is German for exactly what it sounds like—something better. What does that mean for the design? The NT is 55 feet longer than the GZ-20s, have a bigger envelope, and can carry 7,000 pounds more than the retiring blimps.
By building zeppelins, Goodyear will be succeeding where the U.S. military failed. The Army, Navy, and the Air Force tried to revive the zeppelin program in the early 2000s, but never finished the project thanks to the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down. Not to mention their infamous history. The only other zeppelin you can probably think of besides Led is the Hindenberg, and we all know how that one ended (hint: in flames). Goodyear should have its new fleet flying by 2014. All the best to the outgoing GZ-20s in their final season. [GizMag via PopSci]