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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Aboard the Goodyear blimp. Photo: Bill Rapai

This week, I ticked off a bucket list item while in Las Vegas — riding in the Goodyear blimp.

How it happened: Goodyear, which was touting its predictive fleet management services at CES, invited a handful of auto beat reporters to experience a blimp ride over The Strip.

Details: This new generation of the Goodyear Blimp is not really a gas-filled sack. It's a semi-rigid airship, with a frame providing structure.

  • The airship is filled with helium, but also smaller "ballonets."
  • The ship's buoyancy is controlled by taking in and expelling ambient air. Because air is heavier than helium, the more air the craft takes in, the less buoyancy it has.

The experience: It's sort of a cross between a commercial jet and a small boat.

  • The gondola seats 12; you must be seated and buckled for takeoff and landing, but after reaching a certain altitude you are allowed to stand up and walk around.
  • Good sea legs are a plus — on a boat, you can see a swell coming, but you can't see that air puff that's about to push the airship sideways. 

How it works: Forward motion is provided by two, 200-horsepower propeller motors mounted to either side of the airship's fuselage.

  • A smaller motor mounted to the stern helps control the ship on takeoffs and landings.
  • All three motors rotate to allow for vertical takeoffs and landings.
  • Top speed is 73 mph.
  • The blimp pilots steer with a joy stick in the custom-designed cockpit to control giant fins on the stern called "ruddervators."

The bottom line... In a word: Awesome.

Go deeper: Everyone's piling into the car of the future

Go deeper

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

U.S. Chamber decides against political ban for Capitol insurrection

A pedestrian passes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters as it undergoes renovation. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won't withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why it matters: The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

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