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Aerostat Loss in Maryland

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I don't know if anyone saw the news on today, but an Aerostat, one of which I worked on in Yuma, Az. for more than 15 years, Borke away from it's mooring system and floated off over Pensyvannia, until it was snagged by the trailing tether and they go it under control, and brought it down, finally. The trailing tethre did tear up some power lines, but other than that, no damage to persons or property.

Oh boy, do I ever have a few comments! I wonder how they managed to break the tether in the first place. The Raytheon tethre may be a cheap POS by comparison to the originally designed for it TCOM tether (a kevlar piece of amazing engineering), but it should have held. BUT they left it up in weather it wasn't designed for, and I'll wager a small downdraft followed by an updraft caught it, made the tether exit it's normal path into the mooring system, and when it tensioned again, well, it sheared. Ok, it shouldn't have been up in that ether, but...

SO, the Aerostats are equipped with what's called an ARDD, Aerostat Rapid Deflation Device. A couple simple keystrokes, the flip of a switch, and down comes the baloon, in a fairly controlled fashion. WHY didn't they burn the ARDD. WHAT the heck was the FD doing, sleeping?? So many questions, and failed procedures...

Then the press, liberals that they are, questioned why it never saw the ultralight landed on the whitehouse lawn. What good is it, they ask.

The radar on it is tuned to "see" radar returns of a certain "size" (strength of return), and the software that massages the data before it goes out to the controlling agency is set to disregard anything slower than 60 Kts, so it probably never ever saw the bloody thing, and even if it could, maybe the balloon was down that day for maintennance, weather, any number of reasons.

The balloons have cought inumerable drug smugglers sneaking in under the ground based radar systems with light GA aircraft. I know. I was the lead E-tech for the one in Yuma, and I know I tracked a number of intercepts myself. Just for fun, since all the data went to March AFB in Riverside, and they dispatched the intercepts, Customs choppers, Beech KingAire, that sort of thing. They work great.

So don't listen to the "press" when they say the Aerostat's don't do what they say they do. I know that they do, and it's just the usual garbage, lack of proper research, support our agenda, trash the press loves.


I just wanted to give everyone the straight gouge on this little happening. Have a great day all!



Had a thought...then there was the smell of something burning, and sparks, and then a big fire, and then the lights went out! I guess I better not do that again!

Sgt, USMC, 10 years proud service, Inactive reserve now :D

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Thanks for the info, Pat. The press often gets things wrong, puts their own slant on things, and/or fails to actually check their "facts" -- especially with aviation matters, but it's true in other things, as well.


Larry N.

As Skylab would say:

Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

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