Monday, September 23, 2013

Blimps will be grounded at MetLife Super Bowl due to weather

Long associated with the biggest sporting events in America — airships, blimps, zeppelins or whatever your generation calls them — will most likely not be sailing over MetLife Stadium during Super Bowl XLVIII in February.

So don't expect to see Snoopy —or Goodyear or DirecTV for that matter — hovering above the festivities during the game because none of the ubiquitous lighter-than-air crafts wants to do battle with Mother Nature in the middle of winter.

The Star-Ledger reports:

Greg Poppenhouse, chief pilot for Goodyear, almost shivers at the thought of flying over East Rutherford on Groundhog Day.
"We won’t have a blimp up there," he said of the upcoming Super Bowl. "We put our ship in the hangar in the winter."
It’s not so much the cold that worries Poppenhouse, but what typically accompanies it during New Jersey winters.
Flying through a rainstorm in the summer can suddenly add 400 pounds of weight to a blimp, he noted. In the winter, though, that precipitation turns into snow and freezing rain, which can accumulate on the wide expanse of an airship’s helium gas envelope, adding enough weight to quickly give a blimp the flying characteristics of a brick.

Not even MetLife, whose name is emblazoned on the stadium that is home to the Jets and Giants, will chance its two U.S.-based airships — Snoopy One and Snoopy Two — to the whims of the Jersey winter on Super Bowl Sunday this February.

"They won’t be there," said MetLife spokesman Shane Winn. "Even if the weather was fairly decent, usually by mid-November both Snoopy One and Snoopy Two are put on a program that keeps them to largely warm-weather states."

The white-and-blue Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield blimp, which is based in New Jersey during the summer months, will be grounded by then as well, officials say, hibernating during the winter — like most other blimps who go south — in North Carolina unless the airship is leased by another company.

With flight restrictions in place since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the blimp may not be the only thing not in action in the skies over MetLife Stadium on game day. The Federal Aviation Administration said there will be temporary flight restrictions on jets and small aircraft put in place as well.

So kiss those live sweeping shots of the Manhattan skyline goodbye.

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