Goodyear Donates Century-Old Airship Lifeboat to Smithsonian - Tire Review Magazine

Goodyear Donates Century-Old Airship Lifeboat to Smithsonian

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s latest donation to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is a 100-year-old lifeboat from Goodyear’s earliest lighter-than-air endeavor – the airship Akron, built in 1911.

The Akron, not to be confused with the Goodyear-built Navy airship U.S.S. Akron, was Goodyear’s first airship envelope, designated serial number D-1. The Akron was lost at sea in 1912 during an attempted transatlantic crossing. The only significant piece to be recovered from the accident was the lifeboat, in storage by Goodyear since 1912. Goodyear’s newest blimp envelope, #D-654, is in use on its blimp Spirit of Innovation, the company said.

“The National Air and Space Museum is delighted to add this survivor of the very first Goodyear airship to its collection of historic air and spacecraft,” said Tom Crouch, senior curator of aeronautics, National Air and Space Museum. “It will have a place of honor in a section of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center housing the Double Eagle II, the first balloon to fly the Atlantic, and the Concorde, which whisked travelers across the Atlantic at supersonic speeds.”

Constructed by S.E. Saunders of East Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1910, the boat is made primarily of wood, measures 27 feet long with a 6-foot beam and weighs over 500 pounds. In addition to the Akron legacy, the lifeboat’s radio compartment has the distinction of having transmitted the first wireless message from the air, Goodyear said.

Goodyear has donated other aviation items to the Smithsonian. In 1932, it offered the gondola from its first public relations blimp, Pilgrim, which the Smithsonian accessioned in January 1933. It is currently on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

The boat will depart Goodyear’s blimp hangar in Suffield, Ohio, for its new home in Chantilly, Va. on June 9.

Goodyear operates three airships in the United States: the Spirit of Goodyear, based near Akron, Ohio; the Spirit of American, located in Carson, Calif.; and the Spirit of Innovation, in Pompano Beach, Fla.

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