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August 14, 2013

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By Andrea

This is the Daytona 500 from the Sky: A multi-part alternation from For The Win attractive at NASCAR’s better chase of the year from an aeriform perspective. 

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — If the Goodyear Aeroplane is ambit about a venue, it charge be a big-time antic accident in NASCAR, academy football, the NBA, the NFL or alike American Ninja Warrior.

Few things are as alike with aloft events, like Sunday’s Daytona 500 to bang off the NASCAR Cup Alternation season, as the blimp. It was present at the aboriginal Daytona 500 in 1959 and has been a approved attendee anytime since.

But funny thing: It’s not actually a aeroplane anymore. Although it will always be accepted as the Goodyear Blimp, the annoy and elastic company, which is a longtime official accomplice of NASCAR, switched aircraft models in 2014. And it’s now semi-rigid airship, a allocation that agency it’s technically not a aeroplane because of its centralized frame.

Still, it’s one of the best iconic elements of American sports, and it was alike inducted into the Academy Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

“If you anticipate about what they’ve done for the action and the advantage they’ve provided, I anticipate it goes all the way aback to the 1955 Rose Bowl and 2,000 academy football games,” ESPN academy football analyst Kirk Herbstreit told For The Win in 2019.

“Even as a kid, acquainted the Goodyear Aeroplane back you’d go up to big games, and again back I would comedy in big amateur at Ohio State, if the Goodyear Aeroplane was there, you knew it was a big time bold adjoin a big time opponent.”

For The Win took a ride in the Goodyear Aeroplane in the anniversary arch up to NASCAR’s aboriginal and better chase of the season. It was a admirable ride as we took off from a baby airport about 15 afar abroad from Daytona International Speedway and catholic to and circled the chase clue (which is additionally next-door to Daytona Beach International Airport).

But the best beauteous takeaway from the flight was the blimp’s incomprehensible size. When TV broadcasts cut to the blimp, usually in the air, it’s admeasurement is not abundantly conveyed. This affair is actually gigantic.

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“I anticipate it surprises [people] how circuitous it is and the teamwork that’s involved,” said Michael Dougherty, who’s been a Goodyear Aeroplane pilot for 13 years, while aeriform it. “We appear up actuality and there’s one or two pilots, they accept there’s a camera operator, which there is. We accept our own camera operators at Goodyear. But there’s additionally a aggregation of 40 association on the ground.

“They accept it’s a gasbag aeroplane ride with engines. It’s absolutely not. It’s added like aeriform a boat. It’s a appealing avant-garde aircraft, abnormally for an aeroplane and again the ride and afterimage is so unique.”

It’s about 65 anxiety advanced and about 250 anxiety long, acceptation it would booty up about 82 yards on a football field. It has three engines, anniversary with about as abundant application as a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

But it floats through the air with the wind acclaim agitation it like a baiter on the ocean.

Essentially, the Goodyear Aeroplane is absorbed to a barter back it’s on the ground. Back it’s demography off, there is a being alfresco the aeroplane who’s authoritative a ample cable absorbed to both the barter and the aircraft. He has to absolution the aeroplane for it to booty off.

As Goodyear explains, the ancillary stick controls are adequately simple:

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“Located abutting to both larboard and appropriate seats, these electrical controls are acclimated to beacon the Aeroplane larboard and right, up and down, application the capital three appendage fin ascendancy surfaces.”

“Football’s affectionate of fun because you can usually see what’s activity on and chase the game,” Dougherty said about his admired antic contest to fly over. “You can see a little bit of what’s activity on on the field. We can additionally see on our awning actuality what the camera abettor sees [out the front].”

Unlike airplanes, the Goodyear Aeroplane appearance assorted windows, which, back opened, actualize a adorable cross-breeze throughout the gondola. On a brilliant day, it was a little balmy central the cabin, but with the windows open, it was perfect.

When aeriform to a destination, the Goodyear Aeroplane campaign at about 45 to 55 afar per hour, pilot Ryan Clarke said. But back it’s ambit about Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500, it’s boring canoeing about at about 35 afar per hour amid 1,000 and 1,500 anxiety off the ground.

It burns about 45 kilograms of ammunition an hour, and including biking from New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport to the track, aeriform about the clue and abiding to the airport, it will use about 500 kilograms of fuel, Dougherty explained.

However, a lot of the ammunition acceptance depends on the weather. If it’s not decidedly airy and they don’t charge to use the engines too much, the aeroplane can aloof hover and conserve fuel.

It’s arduous to acknowledge how ample Daytona International Speedway is until you see it in person. The infield of the 2.5-mile clue is so massive that there’s a basin in it: Basin Lloyd, a 29-acre counterfeit basin that has existed aback the clue opened in 1959.

While it was a attractive day for our flight, acclimate can be an affair for the Goodyear Aeroplane back it comes to the assurance of those on lath while accouterment aeriform coverage.

If the aeroplane is already in the air, rain isn’t too abundant of an affair because the drops will cycle appropriate off it. However, it’s a absolutely altered adventure if the aeroplane is still on the arena and aggravating to booty off in brutal weather.

Because the aeroplane is so big, if it’s on the ground, the rain can add hundreds of pounds to the all-embracing weight and anticipate it from flying, according to Goodyear.

Pilot Clarke declared the Goodyear Aeroplane as a “big baiter in the air, and it moves like one too.” Added commensurable to a baiter than a bartering airline, the aeroplane ebbs and flows with the wind, like it’s benumbed after-effects in the air.

To accommodate that acclaimed aeriform advantage during aloft antic events, the Goodyear Aeroplane has a camera absorbed to the advanced of the gondola. There is a augment for the camera operator, who works for Goodyear, central the aeroplane — generally the alone passenger, forth with two pilots — as able-bodied as the aggregation on the ground.

According to Goodyear, the annoy aggregation isn’t compensated for accouterment aeriform advantage by the broadcasting channel, which is FOX for Sunday’s Daytona 500. But in turn, Goodyear doesn’t pay for the on-air plugs, which usually go article like: “Aerial advantage of the Daytona 500 provided by Goodyear” and is generally accompanied by some blazon of on-screen graphic.

The aeroplane has become so alike with the better antic contest of the year that accouterment aeriform advantage acutely has been a complete investment.

With an incomparable appearance of Daytona International Speedway, the Goodyear Aeroplane absolutely offers the best appearance of the Daytona 500 with the accomplished clue in afterimage from above.

Too bad it’s alone accessible to the two pilots and camera abettor on board.

More from our Daytona 500 from the Sky series: 8 things we abstruse from aeriform with the Thunderbirds, who accomplish the Daytona 500 flyover

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