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Zeppelin Down! The Army’s Prodigal Blimp Has Come Back to Earth

Goodbye, JLENS! It's been real.

jlens
jlens

After almost exactly four hours of sweet, untethered freedom, the Army’s runaway blimp finally came to rest in a field in rural Moreland Township, Pennsylvania. But what a ride it was! For the last minutes of its short burst of freedom, the beast toyed with its pursuers, conducting a series of “touch and go” passes with the ground and dragging downed power lines -- and the eyes of a transfixed nation -- across central Pennsylvania.

One downside to the spectacle was that the citizens of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, were plunged into total darkness after the blimp snapped the town’s main power lines. While the blimp reportedly broke into two pieces when it finally crashed, what the Army lost Twitter users across the world have gained on this otherwise mundane Wednesday afternoon. We’re just glad no one was hurt.

The flight of freedom that captivated cable news for most of the afternoon was a lot of fun, mostly because it looks like it was relatively harmless -- though we hope the folks in Pennsylvania get the lights back on soon. But the blimp’s trajectory into American hearts probably isn’t such good news for the Army’s long-troubled $2.7 billion program, which never really lived up to the expectations set for it when the idea was hatched 17 years ago. The program, like the blimp, may have crashed for good.

After almost exactly four hours of sweet, untethered freedom, the Army’s runaway blimp finally came to rest in a field in rural Moreland Township, Pennsylvania. But what a ride it was! For the last minutes of its short burst of freedom, the beast toyed with its pursuers, conducting a series of “touch and go” passes with the ground and dragging downed power lines — and the eyes of a transfixed nation — across central Pennsylvania.

One downside to the spectacle was that the citizens of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, were plunged into total darkness after the blimp snapped the town’s main power lines. While the blimp reportedly broke into two pieces when it finally crashed, what the Army lost Twitter users across the world have gained on this otherwise mundane Wednesday afternoon. We’re just glad no one was hurt.

The flight of freedom that captivated cable news for most of the afternoon was a lot of fun, mostly because it looks like it was relatively harmless — though we hope the folks in Pennsylvania get the lights back on soon. But the blimp’s trajectory into American hearts probably isn’t such good news for the Army’s long-troubled $2.7 billion program, which never really lived up to the expectations set for it when the idea was hatched 17 years ago. The program, like the blimp, may have crashed for good.

Photo credit: John Hamilton, WSMR Public Affairs

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