Blake “Mickey” Weisser remembers seeing a Goodyear blimp fly overhead as a young girl.
She was 11 or 12 years old and was at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City. It was 1930 or 1931.
“Everyone was standing, looking up,” recalled Weisser, 93, of Houston.
On Thursday, Weisser got to experience the view from the other direction as she flew over Akron in the Goodyear blimp “The Spirit of Goodyear” as part of a four-generation flight.
Weisser’s grandson, John Meisel, 47, of Coventry Township, arranged the outing and also flew on the blimp.
“She made every moment we had with her memorable,” Meisel said of vacations and holidays with his grandmother. He and his two brothers visited her often in Texas. “Grandmickey,” as she was called, went all out to show them a good time, he said, mentioning banana splits for breakfast as just one example.
“So many fabulous memories,” he said.
So Meisel, vice president of sales for 7signal, a tech firm located in Canal Place in Akron, decided to give her a memory she will never forget. He asked if she had a “bucket list,” the name taken from the movie that describes things one hopes to do before dying.
“Would you ever think about going on a blimp?” he asked her.
“If I had a bucket list, that would be on it,” said Weisser, who from two marriages has four children, 10 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
Rides on the blimp are usually arranged by making a charitable donation at an auction or some event, or through an invitation through a dealership, said Andy Boushack, base administrative assistant at the Wingfoot Lake Airship Base in Suffield Township. The flight Thursday happened because Meisel is friends with blimp pilot Greg Poppenhouse.
Onboard the blimp Thursday along with pilot Rob Delagrange and Weisser and her grandson were Melanie Meisel, John’s wife; his mother, Valerie Driscoll of Rehoboth Beach, Del.; Ariana Washburn, 4, the Meisel’s granddaughter; and Patty Dietz, a friend of the Meisels.
The blimp Weisser saw as a girl probably was a TZ series that flew from 1928 until 1942 and was from 128 to 148 feet long, Boushack said. Current blimps are 192 feet long.
Because the 785-foot Navy airship the USS Akron, which began flying in 1931 and crashed in 1933 and was built by Goodyear at the Airdock in Akron, was a military aircraft, it is not likely that it would have been flying inland at that time, Boushack said. The other rigid airship, the USS Macon, flew from 1933 to 1935, when it also crashed.
When she saw that first blimp in Oklahoma City, she said, it never even entered her mind to think about flying in one.
“I was in awe,” she said, pointing out that back then there simply weren’t that many planes to see.
She described Thursday’s blimp adventure as “just incredible.”
“I saw Akron in a very special way. Akron is beautiful from the air.”
Weisser said she is blessed to be doing interesting things “like going up in the blimp today.”
But when she returned to land, she thought of her late husband, Gordon, who died in August after they had been married 35 years.
“I wanted to call him and tell him all about it,” she said.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at email@example.com.