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American Blimp Corporation (ABC) is an American privately owned Hillsboro, Oregon-based company that is the largest manufacturer of blimps in the United States. It manufactures the hardware and rigging for the Lightship and Spector brands of airships. In 2012, American Blimp Corporation and The Lightship Group were acquired by Van Wagner Communications LLC, and became referred to as the Van Wagner Airship Group.[1] On November 17, 2017, the Florida based AirSign Inc. purchased the American Blimp Corporation and the Van Wagner Airship Group. In additional to getting 15 airships in the acquisition, AirSign also purchased the U.S. Navy A-170 airship (MZ3A) from the US Navy. With ownership and management of Van Wagner's global airship operations, including staff with decades of experience in the airship industry, AirSign positioned itself as the worlds largest airship company.

American Blimp Corporation
Founded1987; 32 years ago (1987)
HeadquartersHillsboro, Oregon, USA
45°32′21″N 122°57′16″W / 45.53913°N 122.95444°W / 45.53913; -122.95444Coordinates: 45°32′21″N 122°57′16″W / 45.53913°N 122.95444°W / 45.53913; -122.95444
Productsnon rigid airships
SubsidiariesThe Lightship Group
N615LG Blimp for MetLife.
Corporate headquarters in Hillsboro, Oregon



ABC was founded in 1987 by James Thiele.[2] The company's lightships (proprietary blimps) are the A-60 and A-60+, as well as the A-150 and A-170.[2] The website says, "There are more A-60+ airships flying in commercial service than those of all other manufacturers combined."[2]

In 1995 it launched the Spector series, with a gondola capable of nine passengers plus the pilot.[2]

In 1999 American Blimp Company Purchased Simply Blimps, the worlds largest manufacturer and distributor of remote controlled arena blimps for $US 95MM.[2]

The blimps feature internal lights and translucent envelopes for the advertising and sales promotion markets. The airship's envelopes are manufactured by ILC Dover's Lighter than air division based in Frederica, Delaware.[citation needed]

Oregon facilitiesEdit

Its Hillsboro location has a 2,300-square-metre (25,000 sq ft) facility and leased space in the former US Navy airship hangar at Tillamook, Oregon.[2] There are 45 employees in Oregon.[2]

The Lightship GroupEdit

Wholly owned subsidiary The Lightship Group (TLG) sells lightships and is based in Orlando, Florida and has more than 200 employees.[2] TLG was formed in 1995 as a partnership of Virgin Lightship and ABC's Lightship America. In 2002 ABC acquired control of the group.[3] In 2012, TLG was acquired by Van Wagner Communications LLC, and operated under The Van Wagner Airship Group until 2017, when it was purchased by Airsign Inc.[1]

TLG has contracted with Goodyear to operate the Goodyear Blimp outside of the United States, in Europe and countries such as Australia, Brazil, and China; this includes airships such as the "Spirit of Europe 1" and 2 as well as the "Spirit of the South Pacific".[4] It was one of TLG's Goodyear airships that crashed in Reichelsheim, Germany on 14 June 2011, resulting in the death of Michael Nerandzic, an experienced pilot whose last-minute actions saved the lives of his three passengers.[5]

According to its website, the AirSign Airship Group is the "world's largest airship operator, providing integrated, full service Airship advertising and promotion programs for companies such as Goodyear, Met Life, General Motors, DirecTV and Sanyo."[4][5]



  1. ^ a b "Van Wagner buys The Lightship Group, American Blimp Corp. - New York Business Journal". Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "About American Blimp". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2011-06-15.
  3. ^ "About Us >> Company History". Lightships. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
  4. ^ a b "Lightships :: Client Highlights >> GoodYear". The Lightship Group. Archived from the original on 26 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-15.
  5. ^ a b "Blimp pilot dies saving passengers from fiery crash". CNN. June 14, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-15.

External linksEdit