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Woody MegaDork
10/28/15 2:12 p.m.


Fighter Jets Track Military Blimp Drifting Over Pennsylvania

by Jim Miklaszewski

WASHINGTON — North American Aerospace Defense Command officials tell NBC News that an unmanned Army surveillance blimp that tore loose from its ground tether in Maryland and drifted north is now 16,000 feet over Wilmington, Pennsylvania.

Two F-16 fighter jets, scrambled from Atlantic City, are tracking the blimp's course. William Pitts U.S. Air Force Col. William Pitts stands in front of an unmanned aerostat, part of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, during a media preview in Middle River, Md., in 2014. Patrick Semansky / AP file

The officials say, as of now, the blimp, which is two football fields long and is trailing more than a mile of heavy cable, is holding at a steady altitude and course and presents no imminent threat to any populated areas. NORAD is working closely with the FAA to keep commercial airlines informed of the blimp's location to avoid any close calls. Ground controllers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where the blimp broke free of its mooring, do have the ability to deflated the helium-filled blimp which could then slowly and presumably safely descend to the ground.

Officials are now studying the best possible place to try to bring the blimp down.

GameboyRMH MegaDork
10/28/15 2:15 p.m.

F-16s? Seems more fitting to send out propeller-driven biplanes

foxtrapper UltimaDork
10/28/15 2:28 p.m.

Various conflicting stories regarding its altitude and, therefore, the dragging of the tether cable. Some reports claim it to be approaching 20,000 feet and climbing. Others reporting it far lower and that the cable is dragging on the ground and has shorted out some power lines.

Chris_V UberDork
10/28/15 2:29 p.m.

Fled Zeppelin

RossD UltimaDork
10/28/15 2:37 p.m.

There goes my dirigible!

foxtrapper UltimaDork
10/28/15 2:41 p.m.
Chris_V wrote: Fled Zeppelin

OK, you get a win with that one.

slefain UberDork
10/28/15 3:13 p.m.

El Cheapo
El Cheapo HalfDork
10/28/15 3:16 p.m.
Chris_V wrote: Fled Zeppelin

10/28/15 4:30 p.m.

A US military blimp designed to detect a missile attack that came loose from its mooring is on the ground and secure, state police say.

The aerostat landed in Muncy, Pennsylvania, after floating for three hours from its usual location in Aberdeen, Maryland.

The blimp caused about 18,000 power outages as it dragged its tether line, taking down electricity cables.

Toyman01 MegaDork
10/28/15 5:46 p.m.
Chris_V wrote: Fled Zeppelin

Well played!! You win the internet for the day.

Javelin MegaDork
10/28/15 6:45 p.m.

The Fox News "National Defense Correspondent" just called the balloon "extremely dangerous because it's filled with helium, which is highly flammable".


HappyAndy UberDork
10/28/15 6:45 p.m.
GameboyRMH wrote: F-16s? Seems more fitting to send out propeller-driven biplanes

Fun fact: The first application of turbo chargers was on WW1 British biplanes for the purpose of Zeppelin hunting.

Appleseed MegaDork
10/28/15 7:27 p.m.

Were is Frank Luke when you need him?

SilverFleet UltraDork
10/28/15 7:33 p.m.

The world needs more dirigibles!!!

mad_machine MegaDork
10/28/15 8:03 p.m.
Javelin wrote: The Fox News "National Defense Correspondent" just called the balloon "extremely dangerous because it's filled with helium, which is highly flammable". Uh...

I think they have been sucking the helium for too long

HappyAndy UberDork
10/28/15 8:41 p.m.

In reply to mad_machine:

You expect news media people to know facts? For shame!

The0retical Dork
10/29/15 6:26 a.m.

This happened a few years ago at Ft. Huachuca. Except that time the Army activated the failsafe on the Aerostat. Problem was that the fail safe was several pounds of explosives and they activated it over the town of Sierra Vista. Blowing it up caused a bunch of damage to the homes in the area and cost the Army a whole lot of money to fix it. It's probably better that it just causes a little damage to the area up there rather than repeat that little incident again.

RFloyd New Reader
10/29/15 6:54 a.m.

Slow news day apparently. I understand someone lost a balloon, but c'mon... CNN's coverage was so amped up you would have thought it was a terrorist attack. Power outages.... m'kay......

I work for an electric cooperative. We had an outage larger than that once because a squirrel fried himself on a transformer at a substation. NO NEWS MEDIA!!! ZOMG!!! COULD HAVE BEEN AN ISIS SQUIRREL!!!!!

ncjay Dork
10/29/15 8:16 a.m.

Armed squirrels are no laughing matter.

Lancer007 Dork
10/29/15 8:16 a.m.

In reply to The0retical:

Living in Tucson, that was big news when that happened. The first time I got this see it up close I was awed at exactly how huge it is.

Don49 HalfDork
10/29/15 8:31 a.m.

The news reports say it is 2 football fields long. I guess those are small fields as it is 274' long! It is now laying on the ground in a wooded area and is apparently full of holes.

1988RedT2 PowerDork
10/29/15 9:05 a.m.
ncjay wrote: Armed squirrels are no laughing matter.

Very true! Especially when they band together to form armies!

GameboyRMH MegaDork
10/29/15 9:31 a.m.
Appleseed wrote: Were is Frank Luke when you need him?

LOL that facial expression! XD

Appleseed MegaDork
10/29/15 10:00 a.m.

Dude was awarded the Medal of Honor for busting ballons. At the time, WWI, ballon kills were harder and carried more weight than a comparable persuit plane kill as they very heavily defended. Luke was a loner and kind of an a-hole, so they let him go off on his own to destroy obsevation ballons.

Duke MegaDork
10/29/15 12:03 p.m.

I've seen that blimp tethered over APG from my sister's summer camp on the Chester River on the Eastern Shore.

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