1 of only 3 female blimp pilots in the world tells girls to dream big


AKRON, Ohio — On a clear and cold November day, Andrea Deyling escorted a handful of visitors into her office. Soon afterward, the office was floating 1,000 feet above the city of Akron.

This is the life of one of only three female blimp pilots in the world.

Deyling uses a joystick in the cockpit to steer the 236 foot long, 58 feet tall, 65-foot wide airship.

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As a young girl who grew up in the shadows of the Goodyear blimp, she often wondered if flying could be in her future.

"I saw the Goodyear blimp fly by one day and then over and over for the next few days, and I got curious how to be an airship pilot," she says.

Goodyear Blimp (WBNS)

Deyling says her inspiration to fly came from her father.

"My father was a paratrooper in the Army and he loved airplanes, so he would take us to air museums and air shows, and I always thought it was really exciting," she says.

Her excitement grew after receiving a degree in Aeronautical Flight Technology from Kent State. She was working as a flight instructor when she learned Goodyear was looking for a pilot.

The only problem was she'd never flown anything with helium in it.

"And I absolutely loved it, and that's how I got started," she says.

Deyling understands that for many young women, the idea of getting into the field of aviation may not be the first thing they think of, but she says there's plenty of opportunities.

"Aviation is generally a male-dominated field, but there are a lot of opportunities for women flying and even on the maintenance side and even in air traffic control that I hope young girls aren't ruling out," she says.

Making a living floating a thousand feet about the earth may have seemed out of reach for a girl who grew up in the shadows of the blimp, but she says her story is one other girls can and should follow because —

"Things that can seem impossible can come true," she says.

More facts about the Goodyear Blimp can be found here.