Area residents who might have noticed a strange object in the sky during the weekend didn’t see a UFO but a Goodyear blimp passing through on a trip from South Carolina.
The cigar-shaped aircraft was spotted over Mount Airy shortly after 3 p.m. on Saturday, heading in a northerly direction.
It had been dispatched earlier in the week from Akron, Ohio, the home base of the Spirit of Goodyear — one of three blimps operated by the tire company which attend various sporting events around the country.
The Spirit of Goodyear was flown to Charleston, S.C., for the Carrier Classic 2012, a college basketball game between Ohio State and Marquette which was scheduled to be played aboard an aircraft carrier. The blimp was to provide high-definition aerial coverage for a television broadcast of the game Friday night on the USS Yorktown, but that event was canceled due to moisture on the court.
When spotted in Surry County Saturday afternoon, the unusual aircraft was making its return flight from South Carolina to Ohio, according to Eddie Ogden, a Goodyear spokesman in Akron.
Ogden added Monday that the crew proceeded from North Carolina to Dublin, Va., site of New River Valley Airport. After spending Saturday night in Virginia, the craft was returned to the home base in Akron on Sunday.
Four pilots, 16 ground crew members and a public relations manager support and maintain each mission of the Goodyear airship program, according to information on the company’s website.
In addition to Akron, Goodyear blimps are based in Carson, Calif., and Pompano Beach, Fla.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.