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Sun, Jul 10, 2005

NTSB: Downed Blimp Unable To Outrun Storm

Investigation Continues

The NTSB released the factual report this week about the crash of a Goodyear blimp in Coral Springs. The report quotes the pilot saying that the blimp was "unable to climb, make headway, or maintain directional control" with the engines at full power once caught in the storm.

The 192-foot-long gray, blue and yellow Stars and Stripes blimp crashed into an industrial park on June 16th after the pilot attempted to escape the storm.

The pilot had left the Pompano Beach Airpark about 1530 in good weather with scattered showers. He took the blimp south towards Miami Beach. About 1630, he started back for to the airport.

By 1725, the weather was worsening and showers were approaching the airport. While on approach, the pilot said that he saw several cloud-to-ground lightning strikes within a mile of the base. With the safety of the ground crew in mind, he decided to attempt to leave the area and wait out the storms.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn't cooperate, and the airship was "being pushed backward and down" even while the pilot was attempting to climb with full power. The heavy rain, lightning and "severe outflow and downdrafts" forced the aircraft down.

While the pilot attempted to steer away from homes, the blimp struck trees and powerlines while coming to rest top of a mini storage facility and several cars, vans, and trailers. The impact tore the helium-filled envelope and damaged the right propeller and lower fin of the craft.

The pilot, Daniel Thomas, 43, and passenger Charles Thomas, 48,were not injured.

FMI: www.goodyearblimp.com, www.ntsb.gov

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