According to Fox News on Thursday, “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, longtime ESPN sportscaster and successful author will be the official christener of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company newest airship, Wingfoot One. The official christening will take place Saturday, Aug. 23, in Suffield, Ohio. The event starts at 8 a.m. and expected to end at 1 p.m., with the christening at 10 a.m.
The christening ceremony will take place at the company’s Wingfoot Lake hangar near the global headquarters in Akron. Weather permitting, Roberts will be among the first passengers to fly on Wingfoot One. The name Wingfoot One was chosen from nearly 15,000 submissions during a four-month Name the Blimp contest. The winner was Charlotte White, 76, of Akron.
Roberts is not the only distinguished woman who has being assigned to christen Goodyear blimps. Roberts will be among several distinguished women who have christened previous blimps. Astronaut Dr. Sally Ride did so in 2000, and aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart did so in 1929. Goodyear’s last blimp christening, in 2006 for the Spirit of Innovation, attracted about 1,500 people to the hangar base.
Why was Roberts selected? Roberts has a family legacy with both Goodyear and Akron. In a release, she said, “This is incredibly meaningful to my family. My great grandfather moved his family from down south to Akron in 1918 to work for Goodyear. Never could he have imagined that one day one of his descendants would be asked to christen the blimp. I’m very honored.”
WKSU News reported on Friday that Roberts in an ideal choice to christen the blimp because of her ties to the area. In addition to her great grandfather, Roberts’ grandfather, William Tolliver, also worked at Goodyear. Her late mother, Lucimarian Roberts, was born in Akron and graduated from East High School – a few blocks from Goodyear’s headquarters. Roberts also has a family connection to aviation through her late father, Lawrence E. Roberts, who served in the United States military for more than 30 years. Col. Roberts was a pilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps’ prestigious Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and later became a flight instructor at the Tuskegee Institute.A limited number of free tickets will be available to the public.
The Akron Beacon Journal on Friday, announced that a limited number of free tickets to the christening event will be available for the general public. Details on ticket distribution will be available on Goodyear Blimp social media – @GoodyearBlimp on twitter and Goodyear Blimp on Facebook – in the coming weeks.
After the christening, Wingfoot One will begin providing regular aerial television coverage of prominent sporting events, including the beginning of the college football season. Goodyear’s aerial coverage of marquee events in 2014 includes the NBA Finals, BCS Championship, Kentucky Derby, 2014 FIFA World Cup and Daytona 500. Wingfoot One, with its increased speed and maneuverability, will enhance Goodyear’s aerial coverage capabilities.