Volume 49
December -2, 2016

A Weekly Aviation Career
Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.

A Weekly Aviation Career Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.
 
Aviation Career Topics
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WHS Aircraft Training Center
Encourage a New Generation
Aviation Salaries Wages Pay
Young Adults in Aviation
Young Adults in Aviation Part 2
Working On The Goodyear Blimp
What Aviation Employers Expect
Virtual Flying
Virgin America Takes Flight
Video Job Profiles
The History Of Flight Attendants
The Gratitude Campaign
Recruiting Minorities to Aviation
Pilot Promotes Aviation Careers
Pilot Completes Trip
Pay Hikes and Bonuses
Northwest Airlines Hiring
No Ordinary Flight Instructor
Jumpseat Ride Flying Charters
Joe Jones Aviations True Spirit
Is an FAA Career for You
IATA Reports On Airline Traffic
Hubble Multimedia Package
Honda Aircraft Company
History Of Flight Attendants
Having Fun for a Living
Gordon Page Warbird Recovery
Funding Prevents Furloughs
Flying The Canyon
Flight Simulation
Flight Attendants Contract
FAA To Hire 15000
FAA Bumps Retirement Age
Delta Promises Stability
Corporate Flight Attendant Jobs
Congress Recognizes Irving
Colorado Astronauts
Climb Aviations Career Ladder
Cirrus Design
Changing Careers
Career Profile Airline Pilot
Career Profile Airline CEO
Boeing Enjoys Sales Spike
Barrington Irving on CNN
Aviations Renaissance Man
Aviation Photography
Aviation Pay Philosophies
Aviation Employee Competencies
Aviation Career Salary Ranges
Aviation Career Overviews
Armed Pilots Refresher Training
An Aerobatic Superstar
American Warns Unions
Airline Ramp Agents
Airline Overhead Bins
Airline Merger Update
Airline Flight Attendant Careers
Aircraft Sales
Aircraft Maintenance Technicians
Air Traffic Controller Careers
Aerospace Engineering
A Life in Aviation
A Career in Virtual Aviation
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A Weekly Aviation Career Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.
Aviation Career Profile

Working On The Goodyear Blimp

The fleet of Goodyear airships is known around the World for always appearing at special events and major sports games. Some our readers may not realize that jobs opportunities are at times available for blimp operational and support teams. In fact, each Goodyear airship has a team of highly qualified specialists dedicated to it. Each member is in charge of safely operating various types of equipment, much of which is specially designed for the airship program. In all, four pilots, 16 ground crewmembers and a public relations manager support and maintain each operation. As special ambassadors of the company, each associate comes in contact with thousands of people each year.

A custom-designed bus serves as a flight center and communications headquarters. It is equipped with all the administrative aids necessary for operation and a special mast for landing in an emergency. A tractor-trailer rig serves as a mobile maintenance facility and is equipped with a machine shop and a night-sign and TV equipment lab as well as a generator to provide power while in the field. The trailer also carries the main mast, spare parts, and supplementary equipment. A passenger van rounds out the rolling stock and is used for ground liaison work and crew transportation. All vehicles have two-way radios for communication with one another and the blimp.

Crew members serve dual roles. In addition to landing and launching the airship during flight operations, they serve as electronics technicians, airship and vehicle mechanics, riggers and administrative assistants.

Each operation travels with a fleet of ground support vehicles including a large bus, a tractor-trailer rig and a passenger van. The bus serves as a rolling administrative office and the ground crew's transportation. The tractor-trailer rig houses shops where electronic technicians and a mechanics can perform repairs in the field when necessary. The van is used as a command car, a passenger shuttle and utility vehicle. The airship and all the vehicles are linked by private two-way radio communications. With these ground-support vehicles, the crew is almost self-sustaining in the field in regard to operation and maintenance. Moving from city to city, the caravan travels by highway as the blimp flies to its next engagement.

Personnel are selected for their communications skills as well as professional abilities.

It's A Team Effort
Each modern blimp is staffed with an air and ground crew consisting of 4 pilots, a public relations manager, and at least 16 ground crew, including aircraft mechanics, electronic technicians and riggers. With three specially equipped ground-support vehicles, the crew is almost self-sustaining in the field in regard to operation and maintenance. Moving from city to city, the caravan travels by highway as the blimp flies to its next engagement.

A custom-designed bus serves as a flight center and communications headquarters. It is equipped with all the administrative aids necessary for operation and a special mast for landing in an emergency. A tractor-trailer rig serves as a mobile maintenance facility and is equipped with a machine shop and a night-sign and TV equipment lab as well as a generator to provide power while in the field. The trailer also carries the main mast, spare parts, and supplementary equipment. A passenger van rounds out the rolling stock and is used for ground liaison work and crew transportation. All vehicles have two-way radios for communication with one another and the blimp.

Chief Airship Mechanic
Goodyear requires that the blimp be kept at the top of its performance curve. This falls to the chief airship mechanic and his staff. The chief airship mechanic has one of the most important responsibilities in airship operations: the mechanical integrity of the blimp. The chief airship mechanic holds FAA licenses that allow for the performance of necessary duties. Airframe and Powerplant (AP) and Inspection Authorization (IA) are required. An AP license recognizes the knowledge required for aircraft repairs and the IA provides the authority to inspect and then approve the blimp's air worthiness.

 While on tour with the blimp, an airship mechanic might log as many as 70 hours in a single week maintaining the blimp in top condition. Accomplishing that feat is not always easy. A big difference between working on a blimp and an airplane is in the way the blimp is in constant motion, even while on the mast. It is not unusual to see a mechanic, wrench and oil rag in hand chasing the blimp as it rotates about the mast, floating just out of reach into the wind. Routine maintenance requires that at each 50-hour mark on the engines a specified set of items be completed. Considering a Goodyear blimp can fly as many as 200 hours a month during a summer tour, it can really keep the mechanics busy.

Chief Airship Rigger
The Chief Rigger and his assistants have one of the most unique jobs in the world - repairing and maintaining blimp fabric, cables and valves - the chief rigger is the supervisor of this work. By its very uniqueness, being an airship rigger is not a wide-spread occupation. It is the riggers responsibility to change the major control cables when necessary, inspect and repair fabric, and to make certain that the air and helium valves are set to open and close at the proper pressure. Riggers paint the envelope every year with a special paint that helps protect the Dacron fabric from ultra-violet radiation from the sun.

Included in the normal maintenance are regular test patches, intentionally cut from the blimp's fabric, which are then analyzed to determine the current integrity of the envelope. These tests are a very important part of Goodyear's constant attention to safe operation of its airship fleet. Unlike the mechanics, the riggers usually have the luxury of working on the blimp while it is standing stationary in the hangar; a big advantage over out of doors maintenance. Riggers learn their trade while on the job with Goodyear. The knowledge and skills are passed down from the older, more experienced riggers to the new hires in a generational tradition as old as airship operations itself. The Chief Rigger and riggers report completed jobs to the licensed chief airship mechanic for inspection and sign-off.

Ground Crew Chief
Providing a link between the Chief Pilot and crew is the Ground Crew Chief. The Crew Chief helps the Chief Pilot keep track of crew hours, work schedules and manpower needs of the operation. Responsibilities include overseeing crew training, setting up watch schedules (there is always someone assigned to watch the blimp, it is never left alone) and making sure that the Chief Pilot's directives are carried out.

The Crew Chief is the primary ground-handler for the blimp. This on the job, learned skill is critically important to safe operation of the airship. Each crew person relies on the crew chief for landing instructions, usually given by hand signals, on when to pull the nose of the ship and when to let go. The pilot communicates with the crew chief through a wireless radio headset. He listens and watches carefully as the crew chief indicates the ship's weight and balance before each take off.

Organizational skills and a wide variety of airship experience and knowledge is a must. It is helpful to know, in general terms, what each crew person's job requires for successful execution.

Chief Radio & TV Technician
The Chief Radio & TV Technician's duties are almost self-describing. They cover all electronics, avionics and electrical systems associated with the blimp and its ground support equipment. It also includes programming the blimps day and night sign messages. A primary responsibility for the technician staff is keeping the two-way radio communications in top operating form so that blimp and ground crew have constant communications between them.

This group is responsible for installing the TV receive equipment and radio communications at stadiums and other remote locations for live television events. This can be a physical challenge depending on the stadium set up. Some stadiums require the more than 100 pounds of equipment be carried up as high as five stories. The Goodyear blimps provide hundreds of hours of public service messages on its blimps electronic signs. The technicians duties include making certain the latest files are programmed and run at the appropriate time. These important messages can include simple text, but can also involve complex animation and video. The more involved animations can often require several hours of manipulation by a technician to result in the desired look. When people look up at a Goodyear blimp and see an electronic version of the American flag waving on high, they can be certain one of Goodyear's technicians spent many hours preparing it to flutter in the breeze, just like the real thing.

Chief Pilot
Operating a Goodyear blimp is a demanding effort that requires the skills, talents and dedication of a number of people to fill the specialized positions. Positions, such as airship mechanic, electronic technician, rigger and pilot, all require particular training to adapt to the unique demands of lighter-than-air. No one knows this fact better than each operation's Pilot-in-Charge, more commonly called the Chief Pilot. The Chief Pilot's duties are nearly all encompassing: tracking crew and pilot work hours, monitoring airship maintenance, approving financial expenditures of the operations, coordinating daily and cross country operations, as well as interviewing and hiring new personnel.

One of the most important responsibilities for the Chief Pilot is interviewing, selecting and then overseeing the training of new pilots. Each operation carries a staff of four pilots and each one undergoes a six-month training period. With a Goodyear flight instructor aboard, a student pilot's flight training includes hundreds of take-offs and landings and flight time over a variety of Goodyear blimp projects such as live network television, electronic sign and cross country journeys. Before taking the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) practical flight exam, each pilot completes more than 500 hours at the blimp's controls. New pilots must undergo a comprehensive Goodyear lighter-than-air (LTA) flight training program that can last up to six months. Following successful FAA testing, the pilot receives an LTA airship rating. If you want to be a Chief Pilot on an airship operation, there are a few qualities that are a must: excellent organizational and flying skills, the patience of a teacher, and the mind of an auditor. The pilot-in-charge on each operation is responsible for the crew, equipment. Based on weather conditions and other circumstances, the decision to fly on any given day belongs to the pilot-in-charge.

Let's Take A Ride
This week's streaming video feature takes us to Pompano Beach, Florida, where Goodyear operates one of its airship bases. We'll fly along with Capt. Marty Chandler - the pilot of N3A, The Spirit of Goodyear. He'll demonstrate the aircraft's operation and provide you with an idea of what an airship pilot's like is all about. You'll also see how the ground support team serves a very important role ensuring safe airship operations. Enjoy your flight!

 


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