Unmanned Airships Provide Radar Coverage, Broadcast Programming
Three people are dead after their Cessna 182 crashed off the bay
of Cudjoe Key late Friday, local police said.
It appeared the Cessna 182 (file photo of type, above) hit a
cable tethering a large government radar surveillance blimp, said
police. The cable was not sliced and the blimp does not appear to
be damaged, according to Monroe County sheriff's spokeswoman Becky
The site has a camera trained on the blimp and the camera
captured the crash. The plane reportedly hit the cable about
halfway between the ground and the blimp itself, reported the
Investigators on the
scene said the aircraft crashed in about two feet of water and
appeared to have broken up upon impact.
The plane was believed to have departed from Key West, but its
final destination was unknown Saturday.
There are two blimps at Cudjoe Key, one operated by the State
Department and the other by the Air Force, according to the Air
Force Web site.
The State Department blimp transmits the US government-run
station TV Marti into Cuba. One of the uses of the Air Force blimp
is to help monitor drug trafficking. It was unclear which blimp was
involved in the crash, officials said.
The blimp and blimp site are operated by Lockheed Martin, a
contractor for the federal government. The area surrounding the
blimps is restricted airspace, said Herrin. (As seen in
the chart at right, R-2916 is active in the area, for unmarked
tethered balloons up to 14,000' MSL -- Ed.)
A man living in the area reported the crash just before midnight
Police had not identified the victims Saturday morning.