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Goodyear unveils next-gen blimp, first in 45 years

The tire company will ply the skies with an all-new zeppelin that will go faster and be more efficient than its current blimps -- and you could name it.

Goodyear's new blimp, which is technically a zeppelin. It's the tire company's first new airship design in 45 years.

Goodyear on Friday unveiled its first next-generation blimp in 45 years.

Technically a German-designed zeppelin, the new airship was built at Goodyear's Wingfoot Lake facility near Akron, Ohio. Construction took about a year. A zeppelin is a different animal than a blimp -- which has no internal structure nor adjustable rotors. But for marketing purposes, Goodyear has decided to keep calling its airships blimps.

Designed by Germany's ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, the new blimp is faster, more efficient, and more maneuverable. It is the same type of aircraft that Airship Ventures based out of Moffett Field near San Francisco and flew over much of California and other parts of the United States before going out of business during the recent recession.

The new blimp is 246 feet long, more than 50 feet longer than the company's previous generation airships, known as the GZ-20. Goodyear has emblazoned it with an all-new paint scheme but naturally is retaining its traditional blue-and-yellow branding over a silver envelope. It also has state-of-the-art avionics and flight control systems instead of the manual flight systems. Goodyear blimps have used since 1925. This new one can reach top speeds of 73 miles an hour, a boost over the current max speed of about 50 miles an hour. Goodyear said that will allow it to cover more events than its blimps have in the past.

Now that Goodyear has unveiled the new airship, it needs a name, and the company is asking for help. Anyone in the United States over 18 years of age can make a suggestion. Perhaps the new blimp, as it flies around America, will carry the name you suggest with it.