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Large Crane Salvages Wayward Blimp

The Goodyear airship, which hit a truck and manure pile, is taken back to its Carson base.

December 05, 2003|Eric Malnic | Times Staff Writer

A large crane was brought in Thursday to haul away a Goodyear blimp that strayed from its moorings in Carson, drifted 300 yards over a fence, bumped into a truck and fell nose-first into a manure pile.

The collision with the truck ruptured the blimp's front gas bag, releasing the helium in it and grounding the airship, said Sgt. Bill Evans of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Officials said it probably would be several weeks before the Spirit of America, a familiar fixture at parades and sporting events along the West Coast, will be able to fly again.

Evans said the accident occurred about 10 p.m. Wednesday, when the airship returned to its base after being used as an aerial platform for exterior video shots during a Clipper game at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

He said the blimp was maneuvering for a landing at the airfield near 192nd and Main streets when a mooring rope broke loose.

Officials said the pilot was unable to get enough power to regain control of the airship and go around for a second landing attempt. The blimp drifted off the 26-acre base and onto the property of a nursery that surrounds the airfield.

On Thursday morning, a crane lifted the crippled blimp from its resting place atop the truck and manure pile, and hauled it back to its base for repairs.

A KTTV-TV Channel 11 cameraman, who suffered a sprained knee, was treated for his injuries and released, officials said. The cameraman and the pilot were the only ones aboard the airship, sheriff's officials said.

The accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The 192-foot Spirit of America is the newest blimp in the Goodyear fleet, first going into service in September 2002. Goodyear has two other blimps, one based in Akron, Ohio, and the other in Pompano Beach, Fla.

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