POMPANO BEACH, Fla. -- The man sitting in the corner is in blimp training. His accent is a mix of Boston and South Carolina, a product of years of bouncing around in the Air Force. If you're afraid of heights, have chronic motion sickness and are trying to be reassured that a 30-minute blimp ride is safe, here's what you need to know about Brian Cutler: His definition of the word "safe" might be a little loose. A few years back, he was in the Thunderbirds and rode in F-16s going 500 mph.
"I wouldn't get into it if it wasn't safe," Cutler says, doing one of hundreds of endorsements for the Goodyear blimp.
"I can't tell you what to do, but if you're writing this story, you've gotta experience it. It's a beautiful day. You'll go out over the coast, and probably see some sharks, some stingrays. Some things you'll never get to see from an airplane."
Sharks and stingrays? Yeah, that's reassuring.
This assignment started innocently enough with a little digging through history. While doing some research, Tina Cerbone, an ESPN producer, read an article that said that 50 years ago Jan. 1, 1960, a camera from a blimp was used in a college football game for the first time when Georgia played Missouri in the Orange Bowl. Cerbone later found evidence that the real first time occurred Jan. 1, 1959.
So the editors at ESPN.com decided to do something about the life of a blimp pilot.