ANTHONY TOWNSHIP -- It as a wild ride for an unmanned military surveillance blimp Wednesday after it broke loose from its tether in Maryland and landed in central Pennsylvania more than four hours later.
State police secured the area around the blimp after it touched down in Montour County near Muncy.
Excited gawkers clogged Muncy Exchange Road after that blimp landed in a wooded area. Many folks had been tracking the blimp after it became untethered in Maryland and crossed into Pennsylvania.
“I was following it because my son is at Bloomsburg University. I saw it was in Bloomsburg and I was calling him, 'What’s going on? Go see it!'” said Donna Armstrong of Muncy. “He was like, 'We lost power, mom.' And then my mom's calling me going, 'It landed on your road!'”
Melaine Knox snapped a few pictures of the blimp shortly before it hit the ground.
State police say the blimp came down on its own.
“It's crazy. I didn't know what was going on. We lost our power where I live,” said Knox. “And somebody sent me a Facebook message when I posted on there we lost our power that this was what was going on and I had to go out and find it.”
The Army says this is a NORAD blimp called a JLENS aerostat. It’s used for surveillance to detect threats along the east coast, such as cruise missiles.
It was moored at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland when it detached shortly after noon.
State police secured a perimeter around the blimp after it touched down in Montour County more than four hours later.
Due to the highly sensitive nature of the blimp, no one was allowed near it, including troopers and first responders.
“It's a dangerous vehicle. It's still powered. There's power to it. There's lines from the tether that have struck power lines, so there is some energy to it,” said State Police Captain David Young from the Montoursville Barracks.
As night fell, state police along with National Guardsmen continued to secure the blimp, waiting for the military to arrive.
Still, the darkness didn't keep people from trying to get another glimpse.
“No, it's not something you see every day,” said Ashley Page.
State police say the military will be handling the investigation into what happened with state police assisting where they can.