Build a Blimp

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These are photos from the construction of Spirit of Goodyear, which spanned from 1999-early 2000. 

Airship construction crew unfold the envelope onto the floor of the hangar. The first step in building a new blimp.

A crewmember uses a light to look through an opening for a helium valve to inspect the interior of the huge, 192-foot envelope as it is inflated with air.

An outside vendor backs up his truck to the envelope and fills it with helium. 

After the envelope is inflated, it is marked for night sign button placement.

Construction crew apply glue to the back of night sign buttons. 7,560 light boards will adorn the blimp's sides when completed.

The gondola for the blimp is then weighed. The process involves using two overhead cranes and sophisticated measuring instruments to indicate the weight supported by each crane. Each piece of equipment going on an airship is carefully measured to help determine the airship's final mass and lifting capability. 

The crew is rolling the gondola into place underneath the fully inflated bag. 

Airship construction personnel lace battens to the blimp's nose. The 16 hollow aluminum tubes are laced directly to the envelope providing strength and rigidity to the blimp. Each batten weighs 9 lbs and is attached using approximately 100 feet of cord.

The first step in making a Goodyear blimp look like a Goodyear blimp is applying the decals. Construction personnel lay the 10-foot tall letters onto the envelope and carefully roll out the air bubbles. 

The Spirit of Goodyear receives its first paint job ever!

The left side is coated with blue while the right side awaits the same treatment.

"Spirit of Goodyear" Tuesday received its port horizontal tail fin and control surface. The 175 lbs. aluminum structure is attached to the envelope using steel cable.

The "Spirit of Goodyear" gets its wings...sort of. All four tail fin assemblies are attached and final touches are completed on decals and painting.

Goodyear airship personnel install the landing gear under the gondola of the blimp Spirit of Goodyear. The blimp requires just one wheel touching the ground while on the mast or landing.

Basking in the glow of their success, Spirit of Goodyear airship technicians admire the bright green of the newly installed night sign on the blimp.

3,780 light boards are installed in a new configuration creating a new generation of night sign that is brighter, bolder and more brilliant than ever before.

As the crew chief uses radio communications to report the results, riggers make minute adjustments to a forward air valve located under the blimp envelope.

A Goodyear technician refers to a drawing as he wires instrumentation in the gondola of the "Spirit of Goodyear."

A newly-complete Spirit of Goodyear takes her first test flight.

The Spirit of Goodyear would continue to adorn the skies of North America for 14 years. She was retired on February 23, 2014 after the Daytona 500. 

She received a Guinness World Record for longest continuously operated airship.