In 1917, Goodyear creates the Goodyear Zeppelin Company as interests in the ships began to grow. Through the 1920s, the company mainly manufactured the zeppelins as a way to advertise their products. Then in the 1930s, Goodyear was awarded a contract to create two airships for military use. They built the USS Akron and the USS Macon.
In 1939, the company created the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation and began manufacturing F4U Corsair airplanes for the US Navy for use in World War II. At that same time, they also produced 104 airships for military use. By 1942, the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation employed 35,000 workers.
In 1963, Goodyear Aircraft Corporation changed its name to the Goodyear Aerospace Corporation. During this time, they helped NASA develop heating and cooling systems for the Apollo spacecrafts, produced tires used on moon vehicles, and created flotation devices for spacecrafts landing in water.
Goodyear wasn't the only company in Akron looking to the sky for what to do next.
In 1934, B.F. Goodrich's Russell Colley designed a pressurized rubber suit for pilot Wiley Post. The suit allowed post to fly at higher altitudes than was previously possible, eventually reaching an altitude of 47,000 feet.
Colley's design was the prototype for the Navy Mark IV suit he would create in the 50s for use in high-altitude fighter jets. NASA would later modify those suits and use them on the Mercury spacecraft missions.
It's not far fetched to think that the role Akron played in reaching outer space inspired inspired a young Judith Resnik who graduated from Firestone High School, was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1978, and flew her first mission aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in 1984.
Sadly, we lost Resnik when she joined the crew of the space shuttle Challenger on its ill-fated flight in 1986.
However, Akron continues to play a role in aerospace today. Not only does the University of Akron offer a Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Systems Engineering, but in 2018 Dr. Jin Wei Kocsis received an Early Career Faculty Grant from NASA to develop blockchain technology that would enhance space communications and navigation in a way to would allow spacecraft to monitor debris in its path and make evasive maneuvers on its own.