Military Blimp Breaks Free, All Hell Breaks Loose

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Oct 28, 2015 6:30 PM
Military Blimp Breaks Free, All Hell Breaks Loose

This afternoon, a military surveillance blimp broke free, forcing the Air Force to scramble two jets to chase the object as it crossed into Pennsylvania. It eventually crashed in Montour County, though it caused power outages as it descended in the Keystone State. It’s estimated that 30,000 lost their power during the blimp’s escape, with 15,000 still don't have it back. It had 7,000 feet worth of cables tethered to it, which cut power lines (via the Hill):

A 240-foot-long military surveillance blimp that broke loose from its mooring in Maryland has landed in Montour County, Pa., according to military officials.

The U.S. military sent two armed F-16 fighter jets to track the drifting blimp, which had a cable of several thousand feet attached to it as it drifted over Pennsylvania.

[…]

At one point, the blimp reached a height of 16,000 feet over central Pennsylvania at 30 miles per hour, but it gradually lost altitude and speed.

"The aerostat has been deflating [by itself] and is deflating as we speak," said Navy Capt. Scott Miller, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

The loose blimp caused a social media sensation, with spectators snapping photos and posting them to social media sites. One Twitter user even created an account for the blimp.

According to PennLive, the blimp is worth $180 million. In neighboring Columbia County, Bloomsburg College cancelled classes. Gov. Tom Wolf’s office worked with state and federal officials throughout the ordeal. Apparently, this blimp was part of a $2.7 billion defense program that was supposed to provide an early detection network against drones, cruise missiles, and or other projectiles, according to the LA Times back in September. Of course, the publication added that it was fraught with technical problems, and it was not operational when a mailman from Florida landed on Capitol Hill grounds in a gyrocopter last April.