is a blimp
owned and operated by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
. It was built in Oregon
and launched in 1993
, a year ahead of its identical sister ship, Snoopy Two
Snoopy, of course, is Charlie Brown's dog from the comic strip Peanuts. MetLife has used the characters in its marketing campaigns for years, and Snoopy is still the company's mascot, appearing on company publications and in the banner on their web site. He is drawn on both sides of Snoopy One in his World War I Flying Ace costume, paws gripping an invisible joystick. Two 1,000-watt lamps inside the blimp illuminate Snoopy at night.
Each Snoopy blimp has a 12-person support team and five ground support vehicles, so that it can travel around the country and land in virtually any open area. (I once saw a Snoopy blimp set down right in the middle of the Sonora Desert.) Snoopy One roams the East Coast, while Snoopy Two covers the West Coast: neither has a fixed home base.
Both blimps are 130 feet long and 38 feet in diameter. The gondola that hangs below the blimp is 14 feet long, and can hold four people (a pilot and three passengers). On the gondola, there are two piston engines driving propellers, each rated for 68 horsepower. Usually, the blimps travel at about 35 MPH at 1,000 feet, but they can go as fast as 55 MPH and as high as 7,000 feet.
The main use for the Snoopy blimps is in covering golf tournaments, football games, and baseball games. Each blimp has a TV camera mounted to the nose, with an 80x zoom lens and gyro stabilization. The camera is operated by a technician inside the blimp, using a pair of joysticks, and the feed from the camera is transmitted by microwave to the production crew on the ground.
During a typical year, Snoopy One and Snoopy Two travel 120,000 miles and cover 70 events.