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Lt. Jay Perdue

Sector Miami Prevention Department and Blimp Pilot, Goodyear

Fun fact: in the history of flight, there’s been more trained astronauts than blimp pilots. As one of less than a dozen Goodyear blimp pilots nationwide, Jay Perdue has a rare skill.

This self-proclaimed “perpetual student” has always had an intense thirst for knowledge. That drive propelled him to become, among other things, a certified welder, an EMT, a scientist and a pilot.

Perdue grew up, like so many other Coast Guardsmen, in South Florida, and he’d wanted to be a pilot since he was 10. He remembered seeing the famed airship fly over his schoolyard playground and watching its graceful flight without realizing his classmates had returned to class without him.

“Welding is nothing but manipulating the chemistry of the metallic elements … beautiful,” said Perdue, a jack-of-all-trades. “I made some tables, a bouquet of flowers for my wife that won’t die, and became overall repair man in the neighborhood.”

Perdue grew up, like so many other Coast Guardsmen, in South Florida, and he’d wanted to be a pilot since he was 10. He remembered seeing the famed airship fly over his schoolyard playground and watching its graceful flight without realizing his classmates had returned to class without him. In college, he began pursuing the physics of flying while simultaneously working his way up to a master’s in pharmaceutical chemistry.

Even after taking a job as a scientist doing research and development for GlaxoSmithKline, Perdue continued to spend his early mornings in a news chopper and his nights teaching others to fly. He continued to add ratings to his license, learning how to fly seaplanes, how to fly commercial aircraft, and how to fly using instruments only.

“It’s one of those things where I get bored quick,” said Perdue.

Lt. Jay Perdue, pilot of the Goodyear blimp, boards the semi-rigid Zeppelin airship Wingfoot One.

Lt. Jay Perdue, pilot of the Goodyear blimp, boards the semi-rigid Zeppelin airship Wingfoot One.

It was around that time that he began to look for a way to give back to his country, and he chose to become a reserve Coast Guard officer in 2010. “I always thought that the Coast Guard’s mission was above all others,” said Perdue, “and the history of saving lives is exceptional.”

Oddly enough, he didn’t choose the flight community or the SAR [search and rescue] dogs – the scientist in him won out, and he entered the marine safety field.

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