Runaway Army Blimp Back on the Ground

U.S. Army

An Army surveillance blimp broke free from its ground mooring in Maryland on Wednesday, drifting for miles over central Pennsylvania as F-16s and Air National Guard helicopters tracked it. The runaway blimp finally landed by itself 160 miles away in Montour County, Pennsylvania, after reaching a maximum altitude of about 16,000 feet and floating for around four hours.

The blimp detached from its tether at the Aberdeen Proving Ground at about 12:20 p.m., and headed north with the prevailing wind. National Guard helicopters were scrambled along the blimp's projected routes as concerned residents dialed 911 to report sightings of the aerostat with its tether dangling.

Witnesses reported seeing the blimp drifting between Jerseytown and Turbotville, a sparsely populated area north of Harrisburg as the tether snapped power lines, disrupting power to around 20,000 customers, according to CBS News.

The blimp is the kind used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan to provide ground surveillance around U.S. bases and other sensitive sites.

F-16s were launched from the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base in New Jersey, according to a NORAD statement.

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