Goodyear Blimp Innovator Mickey Wittman Honored

NEW YORK — Mickey Wittman, known as the “ father of sports aerial broadcasting” for his work in developing the Goodyear blimp’ s role in sports television, will be inducted in to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Wittman joined Goodyear in 1968 and over the course of his 28-year career helped to burnish the reputation of the Goodyear blimps for providing aerial coverage of the biggest events including some of the most viewed sports telecasts in history.

Since 1955, Goodyear continues to be the leader in providing aerial coverage of sports and entertainment events. Working closely with television networks, its three U.S.-based airships provide aerial images of stadiums, arenas and city skylines across the country. More than 60 million Americans get a first-hand look at a Goodyear blimp every year, and millions more see the airships in the U.S. and around the world via television.

During his career, Wittman managed blimp television coverage of more than 2,500 live events including 30 World Series, 24 Super Bowls, five Olympics, 17 Orange Bowls, more than 200 PGA events, 22 years of Monday Night Football,” 26 All-Star Games, eight Cotton Bowls, seven Rose Bowls, 28 Indianapolis 500s, 22 Daytona 500s, 18 years of horse racing’s Triple Crown, 13 U.S. Open tennis tournaments, 20 heavyweight boxing championships, 300 college football games, 12 NCAA Final Four basketball tournaments, 240 NASCAR races, and hundreds of other sporting events and sports-related entertainment shows in North America and Europe.

Wittman also managed aerial coverage from the blimp of a number of news-making events. These included the San Francisco earthquake during the 1989 World Series and the aftermath of the bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

He also directed activities as the Goodyear blimp’ s aerial sign was used to provide public service messages to residents of south Florida in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Wittman joined Goodyear’s Public Relations department in 1968 and moved to its blimp base in Houston, Texas in 1969. He left the company in 1974 to pursue other interests but returned in 1978 as manager of broadcast and films in Goodyear’s New York office. In 1991 he was named manager of airship promotion and, in 1997, manager of global airship public relations. He retired in 2001and went on to work as director of broadcast services for another aerial camera provider.

In addition to Wittman, this year’s Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductees include NBC Sports broadcaster Al Michaels, former ESPN Chief Operating Officer Scotty Connal, Managing Director for CTV Outside Broadcasts Barry Johnstone, NFL Senior Vice President Howard Katz, ESPN Executive Vice President Chuck Pagano and the YES Network's Joe Schiavo.

The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame honors excellence and lifetime achievement in the areas of management, production, technical operations, leagues/teams, manufacturers/vendors, engineering and on-air talent.

This will be the fourth hall of fame honor for Wittman, who was inducted into the Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Legends in 2013, the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and New York's Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

In 2014, Goodyear will embark on the next chapter of its airship story when the company launches its new generation Goodyear NT airships, the first of which is nearing completion at the company’s Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield, Ohio. Test flights on the new airship are expected to begin in early 2014 with a formal launch planned for later in the year.