Goodyear Airdock
The Goodyear Airdock is an airship storage and construction hangar in Akron, Ohio.

Built and previously owned by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation, later Goodyear Aerospace, it was constructed from April 20, 1929 to November 25, 1929, at a cost of $2.2 million (26.4 million 2007 US Dollars adjusted for inflation). The building was designed by Karl Arnstein of the Wilbur Watson Engineering Company of Cleveland, Ohio. At the time it was built, it was the largest building in the world without interior supports, and provided a huge structure in which "lighter-than-air" ships (later known as airships, dirigibles, and blimps) could be constructed. The first two airships to be constructed and launched at the Airdock were USS Akron (ZRS-4) and its sister ship, USS Macon (ZRS-5), built in 1931 and 1933, respectively. These first two airships were approximately 785 feet (239.27 m) in length. The building has a unique shape which has been described as "half a silkworm's cocoon, cut in half the long way." It is 1,175 feet (358.14 m) long, 325 feet (99.06 m) wide, and 211 feet (64.31 m) high, supported by 13 steel arches. There is 364,000 square feet (34 000 m²) of unobstructed floor space, or an area larger than 8 football fields side-by-side. The Airdock has a volume of 55 million cubic feet (or about 1.5 million cubic meters). At the northeast end of the building a control tower and radio aerial are on top of the airdock. At each end of the building are huge semi-spherical doors that each weigh 600 tons (544 000 kg). At the top, the doors are fastened by hollow forged pins 17 inches (43 cm) in diameter and six feet (1.83 m) long. The doors roll on forty wheels on specially-designed curved railroad tracks, powered by an individual power plant each, which can open the doors in about 5 minutes. The Airdock is so large that temperature changes within the structure could be very different from that on the outside of the structure. To accommodate these fluctuations which could potentially cause structural damage, a row of 12 windows 100 feet (30.48 m) off the ground were installed. Furthermore, the entire structure is mounted on rollers to compensate for expansion or contraction resulting from temperature changes. Rumors (dating back to 1930) state that it actually rains inside the structure. When the humidity is high in the Airdock, a sudden change in temperature causes condensation. This condensation falls in a mist, creating the illusion of rain, according to the designer. When World War II broke out, enclosed production areas were desperately needed, and the Airdock was used for building airships. The last airship built in the Airdock was the U.S. Navy's ZPG-3W, built in 1960. The building later housed the photographic division of the Goodyear Aerospace Corporation. In 1980, the Goodyear Airdock was designated a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Airdock has more recently served as the site of the 1986 kickoff rally for the United Way of Summit County, where 200,000 members of the public visited. Bill Clinton spoke during his 1992 election campaign, bringing some 30,000 visitors to the site. In 1987, the Loral Corporation purchased Goodyear Aerospace and the Goodyear Airdock as a result of James Goldsmith's greenmailing of Goodyear. The Loral Corporation (and its holdings, such as the Goodyear Airdock) was purchased by Lockheed Martin in 1996. The Airdock is not open to the public, but it can be seen by those traveling on U.S. Route 224 east of downtown Akron. In more recent years, the airdock has been used for the construction of military blimps by Lockheed Martin. It has also been the subject of a number of conspiracy theories in recent years, since it is usually lit up every night, and its doors open and close at random times and are next to a rarely used runway that is well maintained for the little use it receives publicly.

Building Activity

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