“Savannah’s Akron-born roots and passion for improving the local community made her a natural choice to christen Wingfoot Two,” said Goodyear Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Richard J. Kramer. “Goodyear has a long-standing tradition of enlisting strong, accomplished women to christen our iconic airships, and we are proud to welcome Savannah to the family.”
Goodyear has recognized noteworthy women for nearly a century through the tradition of christening Goodyear blimps. Celebrated aviator Amelia Earhart (1929), astronaut Dr. Sally Ride (2000) and president of International Speedway Corp. Lesa France Kennedy (2006) are among those who have christened a Goodyear blimp. Robin Roberts, award-winning co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” christened Wingfoot One in 2014.
“I feel absolutely honored to be a part of this christening,” James said. “With Goodyear being so much a part of Akron and our Foundation always wanting to better our community, I feel like it is a perfect match. Goodyear means so much to our community, and we feel a sense of gratitude to be part of this amazing event.”
More than 2,000 invited guests watched the ceremony on a giant-screen TV from inside the Wingfoot Lake hangar, as dignitaries and James gathered around the airship’s control car outside under a canopy of black umbrellas for the champagne-bottle breaking.
James was born and raised in Akron, where she met her future husband, Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA All-star LeBron James, while in high school. An active volunteer for the LeBron James Family Foundation since it was founded in 2004, she turned her commitment to philanthropy and her community into the I PROMise Makeover, an annual event started in 2013 that empowers and inspires young women. James established the event to uplift young girls, encourage them to be confident in themselves, and assist those that may not have the means to prepare for prom on their own.
James is currently preparing to launch a mentor program for young women in Akron, beginning with students at her high school alma mater, Buchtel High School.
Wingfoot One (N1A) was introduced in 2014 as the first of three new, advanced airships and marked the first major structural design change of a Goodyear airship in nearly 70 years. Wingfoot Two (N2A) is the second LZ N07-101 type airship built with Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik in Germany. The semi-rigid airship is 246ft long, nearly 300,000ft3 in volume, and has a top speed of 73mph.
New features include enhanced aerial television coverage capabilities, increased flight range, and a cabin with seating for up to 12 passengers.
Goodyear, one of the world’s largest tire companies, has built more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles for public relations and defense applications and has employed its own fleet as goodwill ambassadors since 1925.