So, There Was a Blimp on the Loose in Pennsylvania

But State Police say that the military's loose airship has now been contained — all the way up in Montour County.

JLENS aerostat. Photo | Dept. of Defense.

Photo of a JLENS aerostat, not the one that got loose over Pennsylvania today, via the Dept. of Defense.

“It is now floating freely somewhere over Pennsylvania.”

That was CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, talking about the Runaway Blimp on CNN, after the military JLENS aerostat came untethered from its moorings at Aberdeen Proving Ground this afternoon. The rather adorable bulbous aircraft — which looks more like a distorted incarnation of the Pillsbury Dough Boy than a threatening military vehicle — “is just sort of flying around right now,” said Blitzer, looking vaguely alarmed. APG posted a message to its Facebook page that said: “Anyone who sees the aerostat is advised to contact 911 immediately …” Twitter was predictably rapt.

According to the latest NORAD tweet, the blimp now is “drifting northward & has descended near the ground. Anyone seeing the aerostat notify law enforcement & remain clear.” But WNEP reports: “State police confirm the blimp is now down near Muncy Exchange Road in Anthony Township, Montour County.” The mile-long tethers hanging from its tummy took out power for thousands of people in Bloomsburg, PA.

Blimps of this kind, when tethered, are used to track incoming aircraft. When in flight, they can provide surveillance. One TV analyst described it as “a floating uncontrolled helium-filled balloon structure with radar equipment.”

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