WILLIAMSTOWN - Many area residents were surprised Friday afternoon to see the Goodyear Blimp flying low over the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"It came through at the airport about 12:30 p.m. on its way to Charlotte, N.C.," said Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport manager Terry Moore. "It did not stop here, but it flew over us twice, and the crew noted where they would tie down up here if they ever had to stop here."
Both the airport and The Parkersburg News and Sentinel received numerous phone calls from people who were in the blimp's flight path and watched it. One caller resides in Meredith Manor off of West Virginia 31 in Waverly.
The Goodyear Blimp passed over the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport twice on Friday as the aircraft and its crew made their way south for the Memorial Day weekend. (Photo Provided)
Moore said the airport had been contacted by Goodyear officials earlier in the week about the blimp, a helium-filled non-rigid steerable airship, diverting to the valley to avoid high winds.
"They wanted to know if the blimp could stop here if it needed to," Moore said.
The blimp is known as the Spirit of Goodyear and based in Akron and went about 16 miles out of its way to fly over the Mid-Ohio Valley, which is not a quick or easy feat, Moore said.
According to the Goodyear Blimp website (www.goodyearblimp.com), the company's blimps also including Spirit of America in Carson, Calif.; Spirit of Innovation in Pompano Beach, Fla.; and Spirit of Safety in the United Kingdom usually travel at about 35 miles per hour with a top speed of 53 miles per hour.
"Blimps don't move that quick, so that 16 miles of diversion added some significant time to the crew's travel," he added.
The Spirit of Goodyear may fly over the Wood County area again on Tuesday, as it will be heading from Charlotte, N.C., to Cleveland for another event.
"I was informed by Goodyear the blimp my divert to our area again, which would be great," Moore said. "The Goodyear Blimp is probably one of the most widely recognized advertising systems in the world and it is great that they came here for our community."
This was the second time in the six years Moore has managed the airport a blimp has come to the area.
"I can't remember exactly when it was, but the MetLife blimp stopped here a few years ago," Moore said. "That blimp was much smaller than the Goodyear craft, which is huge."