Runaway NORAD Spy Blimp Adrift Somewhere Above Pennsylvania (UPDATED)


A radar blimp used by the Department of Defense to monitor aircraft movement along the east coast has gone rogue after it detached from its moorings on the coast of Maryland.

According to WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, the surveillance balloon was last seen in the vicinity of Lancaster, Pennsylvania after a cable anchoring it down in Aberdeen, Maryland became loose. Government agencies are attempting to locate and track the blimp, including the FAA and NORAD.

The JLENS blimp, which was designed and manufactured by frequent government contractor Raytheon to help patrol the United States’ coastal borders, is 243 feet long (that’s 37 meters in Lincoln Chafee‘s America), all white and filled with helium. A cable may still be hanging from it.

NORAD spokesperson Michael Kucharek later said that two fighter jets were monitoring the blimp, and that various air traffic control stations were working to help keep track of it.

Meanwhile, CNN’s Barbara Starr — at the behest of host Wolf Blitzer — went full CNN and began discussing the military’s options, including whether or not the two fighter jets would ever have to shoot down the blimp.

Check out the clip above, via CNN.

UPDATE–2:38 p.m ET: WNEP reporter Jon Meyer received this photo from a viewer in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

Aside from the blimp looking ominous AF, it looks like the Defense Department’s missing spy balloon may have been located.

UPDATE–2:50 p.m. ET: WNEP reporter Stacy Lange posted a video recording with audio of radio chatter presumably between law enforcement officials tracking the blimp in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. One of the persons in the clip allegedly says the blimp is “going down.”

Blimp Watch 2015 continues, folks.

UPDATE–3:01 p.m. ET: According to CNN, the blimp somehow caused a power outage at Bloomsburg University. The school’s official Twitter account said classes were cancelled until 4 p.m. local time due to a “widespread power outage.”

CNN later claimed that Bloomburg’s loss of power was due to the blimp.

Shortly thereafter, the university announced that all remaining classes for Wednesday, Oct. 28 were cancelled.

There is no official confirmation from Bloomsburg as to whether or not the loose blimp is to blame for the school’s power outage.

UPDATE–3:11 p.m. ET: A Columbia County official confirmed with WGAL that the balloon’s loose cable, which has often dragged close to the ground at times, disrupted major power lines in the area. This disruption caused the power outage at Bloomsburg University.

UPDATE–3:16 p.m. ET: CMVT student Fisher Creasy posted a video of the balloon falling to the ground at 2:22 p.m., at which point many of the previously described power outages occurred.

UPDATE–3:26 p.m. ET: WBRE-TV reporter Andy Mehalshick posted a photo of the drag line left by the blimp’s tether on a witness’s property. Only grass was damaged, but the indentation left behind is significantly large.

UPDATE–4:16 p.m ET: According to the Baltimore Sun‘s Ian Duncan, a NORAD spokesperson just confirmed that the balloon “lost helium and drifted to the ground” in Moreland Township.

UPDATE–5:18 p.m. ET: And behold, another photo of part of the blimp after it came down, courtesy of WNEP:

[h/t WPVI-TV, Baltimore Sun]
[Image via screengrab]

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