AKRON, Ohio, July 24, 2014 – Robin Roberts, the award-winning co-anchor of ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” long-time ESPN sportscaster and successful author, will christen The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s newest blimp – Wingfoot One – on Saturday, August 23, in Suffield, Ohio.
Roberts joins a list of accomplished women who have christened previous Goodyear blimps, including astronaut Dr. Sally Ride (2000) and aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart (1929).
“We are honored and delighted to have Robin continue our proud tradition of christening the Goodyear blimp,” said Richard J. Kramer, chairman and chief executive officer. “In addition to being a supremely talented broadcaster, Robin has a family legacy with Goodyear and Akron. The combination of her personal connection to our city and company, her distinguished professional achievements and charitable works makes Robin an ideal choice to christen our newest icon.”
“This is incredibly meaningful to my family,” said Roberts. “My great grandfather moved his family from down south to Akron in 1918 to work for Goodyear. Never could he have imagined that one day one of his descendants would be asked to christen the blimp. I'm very honored.”
In addition to her great grandfather, Roberts’ grandfather, William Tolliver, also worked at Goodyear. Her late mother, Lucimarian Roberts, was born in Akron and graduated from East High School – a few blocks from Goodyear’s headquarters. Roberts also has a family connection to aviation through her late father, Lawrence E. Roberts, who served in the United States military for more than 30 years. Col. Roberts was a pilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps’ prestigious Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and later became a flight instructor at the Tuskegee Institute.
Robin Roberts began her broadcasting career in 1983 as a sports anchor and reporter in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She later moved to television stations in Biloxi, Mississippi; Nashville, Tennessee; and Atlanta. Roberts joined ESPN in 1990 as an anchor of the cable sports network's “SportsCenter” program. She began her work at ABC and “Good Morning America” in 1995 and was named the program's co-anchor in 2005. In 2012, she received a Peabody Award for her work with “Good Morning America” to raise awareness of the national bone marrow registry and to encourage donations.
The August 23 christening ceremony will take place at the company’s Wingfoot Lake hangar, near the company’s global headquarters in Akron. Weather permitting, Roberts will be among the first passengers to fly on Wingfoot One.
A limited number of free tickets to the christening event will be available for the general public. Details on ticket distribution will be available on Goodyear Blimp social media – @GoodyearBlimp on twitter and Goodyear Blimp on Facebook – in the coming weeks.
After the christening, Wingfoot One will begin providing regular aerial television coverage of prominent sporting events, including the beginning of the college football season. Goodyear’s aerial coverage of marquee events in 2014 includes the NBA Finals, BCS Championship, Kentucky Derby, 2014 FIFA World Cup and Daytona 500. Wingfoot One, with its increased speed and maneuverability, will enhance Goodyear’s aerial coverage capabilities.
Since 1917, Goodyear has built more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles for public relations and defense applications, many built at the Suffield facility.
Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies. It employs approximately 69,000 people and manufactures its products in 50 facilities in 22 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.