For those of us living in Akron, Ohio, the home of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and where blimps are made, it isn’t unusual to hear the familiar sound of one of them flying overhead.
Here, where the sight of a blimp in the sky is fairly common, we might be inclined to take the aviation marvel for granted. But if you live in a place where the only chance to get a view of the nonrigid airship is on television, as it provides sports coverage for a football game, seeing a blimp in flight is unusual and exciting. No matter where you live, a blimp, flying so close that you can wave to people in the gondola (an enclosed compartment that holds passengers and the crew) and see them wave back is still pretty exciting.
Between 1928 and 2005, Goodyear named its blimps after the U.S. winners of the America’s Cup, an international yacht race, because they look like yachts in the sky.
The Spirit of Akron, launched in 1987, was the only airship to deviate from that practice.
National Aviation Day, established in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, designates the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday, Aug. 19, as a holiday that celebrates the history and development of aviation. Wright, along with his brother Wilbur, made significant contributions to flight.
To celebrate the holiday, I made a replica of a blimp for you to create. I found the idea for the craft at www.highlightskids.com/Express/Crafts/Decorations/C0402—paperplateBlimp.asp. I changed the directions for our use.
You will need:
• 2 Chinet paper plates, platter-shaped
• Aluminum foil
• Decorative paper
• 1 piece dark construction paper
• Large empty gelatin box
• Tacky glue
• Clothespins or rubber bands
• Black marker
Trim the long sides of one of the paper plates to make it look like a football. Lay it upside down onto the underside of the second plate and trace the new shape onto it. Cut the second plate to match the first.
Cover each plate with aluminum foil, wrapping the foil over to the topside of the plate.
Using the photo as a guide, draw two fin shapes for the top and bottom of the back of the blimp.
Glue the two plates together front to front and sandwich the fins in between. Hold the plates together with clothespins or rubber bands until glue dries.
To make the gondola, cut the empty gelatin box in half and cover with decorative paper. Cut a V shape from each side so you can slide the box up into the bottom edge of the blimp. Glue to hold.
Use the marker to draw windows on the sides of the gondola, and write a message on a piece of construction paper and glue to the side of the blimp.