Since its maiden voyage in 1987, the MetLife blimp has provided aerial television coverage for an impressive array of sporting, news, and special events from coast to coast. In recent years, the MetLife blimp has covered all PGA Tour events airing on CBS and NBC, the US Open golf tournaments, the PGA Championship, numerous NFL games along with USTA, NBA and MLB events.
A blimp's inherent stability and slow cruising speed make it an ideal camera platform, capable of providing clear, steady pictures. Carrying state-of-the-art camera equipment weighing approximately 250 pounds, the MetLife blimp provides a unique perspective of the action below. The camera has the capability of shooting play-action, as well as the wide angle "beauty shots" traditionally provided by aerial cameras.
The MetLife blimp is equipped with a gyro-stabilized camera mounted on the nose of the gondola. A zoom lens provides up to 80x magnification. This enables the MetLife blimp to capture television shots that can track a golf ball down a fairway or identify the number on the back of a player's jersey.
The camera technician operates the equipment from within the gondola using two joysticks, much like a video game. The camera technician gets his cues from the director in the production truck via a two-way radio link. A microwave transmitter sends the camera's signal from the blimp to a receiver on the ground where it's then fed live into the production truck, or put on videotape for later broadcast or replay.