|Fate||Bought by Loral Corporation for $640 million in 1987|
|Predecessor(s)||Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation|
|Headquarters||Akron, Ohio, USA|
|Parent||Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company|
Goodyear Aerospace Corporation was the aerospace and defense subsidiary of Goodyear.
The company began as Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s Aeronautics Department and renamed in 1923 as the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation set up to construct dirigibles for the US military. A giant dirigible hangar was constructed where airships for the US Navy, including the USS Akron (ZRS-4) was constructed.
Wartime Aircraft Manufacturing
Also due to the lack of business during the depression, the company used its advanced aeronautical knowledge to design and build the high speed Comet commuter trains for the route between Boston and Providence. It became Goodyear Aircraft Corporation on December 5, 1939 in response to a contract from the Glenn L. Martin Company to design and build the empennage section for its new plane, the B-26 Marauder. The army had placed a large order and Goodyear had available manufacturing space at its huge Airship Dock, near Akron, Ohio. Due to ongoing problems in Europe, Goodyear created Goodyear Aircraft Corporation to handle US military contracts in 1939. The German-US joint venture ended in 1941 and airship operations were moved over to Goodyear Aircraft Corporation.
By 1941, manufacturing facilities were running at full capacity and ground was broken on July 15, 1941 at an additional location just west of Phoenix, Arizona. Goodyear was familiar with the area, and had been operating a large cotton ranch there for decades. Arizona produced more than three million pounds of airframes during World War II.
Goodyear Aircraft Company in Goodyear, Arizona, in 1951, the Arizona employees past and present played a long and storied role in numerous SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) firsts. These include the original SAR patent, the first demonstration SAR and flight test, the first operational SAR system, the first operational SAR data link, the first 5-foot resolution operational SAR system, the first 1-foot resolution SAR system, and the first large scale SAR digital processor. The company has installed and flown over five hundred SAR systems on more than thirty different types of aircraft for numerous countries throughout the world. The company designed and produced all of the evolving high performance SAR systems for the U. S. Air Force SR-71 "Blackbird" spy plane throughout its entire operational history, spanning some twenty-nine years.
The Arizona plant produced a range of defense products in later years, including jet aircraft canopies, bulletproof glass and vehicular armor products, military shelters and missile transporters.
Darrell C. Romick, former Chief Engineer of Taylorcraft Airplane Company was a close associate of Wernher von Braun. Romick's worked for Goodyear Aircraft in the 1950s produced a rocket and spacecraft design called the Goodyear Meteor Junior concept. The 3-stage rocket had similarities to the much later Space Shuttle in that it was manned, had reusable stages, and its topmost stage was designed to ferry personnel and cargo to a large space station orbiting the earth. The concept was designed in 1954 to 1958, with a launch date of 1962.
The company became Goodyear Aerospace Corporation in 1963 to reflect the diverse range of products. In 1987 it was sold to Loral Corporation for $640 million following a massive restructuring of Goodyear prompted by the hostile takeover attempt by James Goldsmith and the Hanson Trust. The Goodyear name disappeared and became the defense systems unit of Loral.
Loral's rights to the Goodyear Blimp designs (GZ-20 and GZ-22) were sold to Lockheed Martin, which purchased the defense systems unit in 1993. While owning the designs, Lockheed Martin does not manufacture any airship products.
- Allen, Hugh. Goodyear Aircraft: A Story of Man and Industry, 1947.
- "Latest Diesel-Engine Train Built Like Airships", Popular Mechanics, July 1935
- Model, Space Shuttle, Goodyear Meteor Jr. 3-Stage Fully Reusable Concept, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institute.
- All About Satellites and Space Ships, David Dietz, Random House, Toronto, LCCN 58-9014