News Channel 8 rides along on blimp flight over Tampa

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — You don’t have to be at Raymond James Stadium for the National College Football Championship game Monday night to see a rare sight up in the sky. DirectTV will have its blimp flying above Tampa. It is one of 10 active blimps in the U.S. and 25 world wide.

Here’s some other fun facts you may not know about the DirectTV blimp:

  • It’s called the DIRECTV Lightship because the giant envelope (the part that says DIRECTV) illuminates from within with two 1,000 watt light bulbs making it visible even at night. This proprietary technology to Van Wagner Airship Group is also the reason the airship will be mistaken for a UFO quite often.
  • It has the world’s only 2,100 Sq. Ft. LED screen capable of displaying full color and motion video and script during both day and night!
  • On average, the DIRECTV Lightship travels 50K miles each year chasing the biggest sporting events in the country.
  • The maximum speed is approximately 45 mph. However it has gone as fast as 57 mph (tail wind) and as slow as 1 mph (Head wind).
  • You can fill up 185,000 party balloons with the helium inside the DIRECTV Airship.
  • Airships have the best safety record of any type of aircraft.
  • The DIRECTV Airship uses less fuel in 2 weeks of operation than a 747 Jumbo Jet uses to taxi to the end of the runway for takeoff! provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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