How Many Blimps Are There? A History of the MetLife Blimp and Van Wagner Airship Group

August 8, 2022

How Many Blimps Are There? A History of the MetLife Blimp and Van Wagner Airship Group featured image

Advertising blimps are one of the most iconic and memorable marketing vehicles present in the world today. Commanding presence from above, blimps are much more than just giant balloons or floating billboards, they are broadcasting powerhouses whose presence is very much ingrained in American culture.

If you were to ask the average person to name off the top three most famous blimps that come to mind, the MetLife blimp would likely grace the list along with the iconic Goodyear blimp and the unfortunate Hindenburg disaster. In this article, we aim to answer common questions about the MetLife blimp and Van Wagner Airship Group’s affiliation with the company.

How Many Advertising Blimps Are In The World?

This number varies depending on who you ask. The general consensus is that there are between 20 and 25 blimps in the world today, but most of them are not in operation. Among the most notable are the Goodyear blimps, such as Wingfoot One, representing a significant portion of the approximately 13 active advertising blimps.

Van Wagner Airship Group owns and operates eight of these, including the MetLife Blimps. Blimps, including the Goodyear blimps, use helium as a lifting gas to stay airborne. This gas provides the necessary lift by maintaining pressure inside the envelope, allowing these airships to maintain shape and ensure steady flight.

When Did MetLife First Start Flying Blimps & How Many Are There?

MetLife’s first blimp, Snoopy 1, launched in 1987 and rapidly became a common fixture at golf and other and sporting events, as well as news and special events. In 1994, MetLife expanded their blimp program to include Snoopy 2.

There are three MetLife blimps total: Snoopy 1, Snoopy 2, and Snoopy J. Snoopy J launched in October of 2010 in Japan, capturing the attention of millions of residents. It covers special community events more often than major sporting opportunities.


How Does The MetLife Blimp Work With Television?

Since 1987, the MetLife blimp has provided aerial broadcasting coverage for a variety of television outlets. It is most commonly known for covering the PGA Tour, the PGA Championship and other golf tournaments, but it also provides coverage for NFL, NBA, MLB, and USTA games.

The blimps ability to slowly cruise above the ground provides an ideal environment for a clear, steady video capture. To learn more about the cameras capabilities, click here.

Who Flies The MetLife Blimps?

Pilots have to participate in rigorous, specialty training to become certified to fly a blimp. It takes a team of two pilots and twelve crew members to keep the blimp in operation. Together, the pilots and the ground crew travel approximately 120,000 miles per year and cover approximately 70 events.


Can I Rent a Blimp to Advertise My Company?

Renting an advertising blimp can be a significant investment, with costs ranging from $500 to $5,000 per hour depending on the blimp’s size, duration of the campaign, and geographic location. These costs cover not only the rental but also operational expenses such as crew, fuel, and maintenance. Additionally, creating custom branding for the blimp can add several thousand dollars to the total expenditure.

Despite the high price, the unique visibility and broad reach of blimp advertising can make it a worthwhile choice for major brands seeking to create a memorable impact.



If you’re interested in aerial advertising services, but aren’t ready for a blimp rental investment. Visit our capabilities page. We offer aerial billboard advertising, skytyping, skywriting, helicopter advertising, among other options.

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