On October 28th around the time of 12:28 in the afternoon, the blimp seen by countless amounts of people each day broke free from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. The approximate 10,000-foot cable broke free from the ground, and the blimp was carried away by the strong gusts of wind CNN reported.
The winds at the altitude the blimp was floating at were calculated to be around 75-100 miles per hour that day by USA Today’s weather radar. It was a good chance that the tension and the drastic changing of wind speeds freed the blimp. Once the blimp was free, ABC news reported it floated 150 miles into Pennsylvania until it was shot down by police forces with shotguns.
As the blimp floated away, the long cable that once held it to the ground dragged across power lines and fields leaving many residents out of power and long lines in the dirt and yards. Its peak altitude and cruising altitude was at about 16,000 feet told by CNN.
F16 fighter jets circled the blimp making passenger planes aware of the situation so they wouldn’t collide into the cable which would result in certain death for all. Once the blimp started to fall within hundreds of feet of the ground, police forces sped the process of bringing it down by puncturing holes in the blimp by shooting shotguns at it.
The blimp was used as a radar detector which could detect incoming missiles from thousands of miles away. The blimp was worth about $180,000,000 reported by WBAL.
In the end, 35,000 people were left powerless as a result of the cable knocking power lines down again reported by WBAL.
People have been asking how such an incident like this can occur. Earlier this year on Raytheon’s FAQ page, who is the engineering company of the blimp, a U.S. citizen asked what were the chances this cable could break. Raytheon replied, “The chance of that happening is very small because the tether is made of Vectran and has withstood storms in excess of 100 knots.”
The breaking of the cable is still being investigated since the odds of it happening were so slim. There are many different theories to why it broke, but none makes logical sense since the cable was so strong and could have easily withstood 100 knots winds.
One theory is that the cable may have broken from the ground and the cable itself stayed intact. This is possible since most of the stress would be on the ends of each cable. The cable was attached to some sort of winch system on the ground that is able to pull the blimp down in the case of inclement weather.