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Border surveillance blimp falls from the Sierra Vista sky

Published: May. 10, 2011 at 1:33 AM MST|Updated: May. 13, 2011 at 1:51 AM MST
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Sierra Vista, AZ (KOLD) - Authorities tonight say high winds caused a surveillance blimp to break free and crash in a Sierra Vista neighborhood.

It went down in the Canyon de Flores neighborhood near Buffalo Soldier Trail south of Ft. Huachuca.

"I knew it wasn't a parachute, it was too big and too loud to be a parachute and I didn't know exactly what it was til I came out here and saw it on the ground and I'm thinking, I think that was the blimp," Willie Henderson told KOLD after the crash.

Henderson lives in the neighborhood and says the Tethered Aerostat Radar System was coming in so low it was threatening to cause some serious damage.

He explained, "It was pretty scary, I thought it was going to fall on me and I'm thinking we need to get inside, but then the wind blew it further down this way."

When the radar system came crashing down in the neighborhood it barely missed Christopher Peacock's home, but did manage to land on his BMW that was sitting in his driveway, and blocked traffic in the neighborhood for hours.

"Sounded like a tornado or a small tornado hitting my house, so I came out and noticed my car," Peacock said.

Once Peacock got the blimp-like system off his car, he saw scratches all over it. He's glad no one was hurt, but knows getting his car fixed will probably take some time.

Peacock told KOLD, "They took pictures, got information, went away and said someone will contact you."

Shortly after dropping in the neighborhood, crews showed up and started picking up the radar system that authorities say was torn away from its tether by strong winds.

City residents who find pieces of the aircraft on their property should leave it alone and call the Fort's installation operation center at 533-2291 and provide an address or location. To report damage to personal property and to file a claim, residents should call the claims examiner at 533-0584.