The Latest: Official says blimp's tail ready for removal

AP News
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Posted: Oct 29, 2015 2:35 PM
The Latest: Official says blimp's tail ready for removal

MUNCY, Pa. (AP) — The latest on an unmanned Army surveillance blimp that broke loose from its ground tether at a military base in Maryland and drifted over central Pennsylvania (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

An official says the military is in the process of removing some 6,000 feet of tether from a surveillance blimp that broke loose from a military facility and came down in two pieces in the Pennsylvania countryside.

U.S. Army Captain Matthew Villa says the tail section will be removed Thursday afternoon. He says the main hull section of the blimp is in the process of deflating and could be taken away in the "next day or so."

When the blimp went down Wednesday, it had helium in the nose which had to be drained. Villa says the "easiest way possible" to do that was to shoot it. He says the state police fired about 100 shells at the white behemoth to get it to deflate.

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1:20 p.m.

The Army is sending a two-person accident-investigation team to Pennsylvania to look into why a military surveillance blimp came loose from its mooring in Maryland and floated away.

Pennsylvania police are using shotguns to deflate the wayward blimp.

The blimp, fitted with sensitive defense technology, escaped Wednesday from Aberdeen Proving Ground. Its dangling tether caused power outages in Pennsylvania before the aircraft came down into trees in a ravine near Muncy. No one was injured.

Michael Negard, spokesman for the Army Combat Readiness Center, says the investigators are from Fort Rucker, Alabama.

He says the investigation is considered "Class A," a label applied to an event that might have caused at least $2 million in property damage; involved a destroyed, missing or abandoned Army aircraft or missile; or caused injury.

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11:35 a.m.

Pennsylvania State Police troopers are using shotguns to deflate a wayward surveillance blimp that broke loose from a Maryland facility before coming down into trees in the Pennsylvania countryside.

Army Captain Matthew Villa says the blimp has been secured with additional ropes and troopers are using shotguns to deflate it. They are still working on a removal plan, and about 60 members of the military are at the scene near Muncy.

The blimp, fitted with sensitive defense technology, escaped Wednesday from Aberdeen Proving Ground. Its dangling tether caused outages in Pennsylvania before the aircraft hit the ground.

Villa says very sensitive electronics onboard have been removed but the vast majority of blimp is still there, in two pieces.

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11:15 a.m.

An official says it will take days or maybe weeks to remove a surveillance blimp that broke loose from a Maryland military facility before coming down into trees in the Pennsylvania countryside.

U.S. Army Captain Matthew Villa says the blimp is in two "mostly intact" pieces. The main body is at one site and the tail section is a few hundred meters away.

He says the wreckage is in trees along a ravine in a hard-to-access area. He spoke at a briefing Thursday morning, a day after the 240-foot helium-filled blimp came to a rest near Muncy, Pennsylvania.

Villa says the "hows and whys" of what happened are under investigation.

The blimp, fitted with sensitive defense technology, escaped from Aberdeen Proving Ground. Its dangling tether caused outages in Pennsylvania before it hit the ground.