Larry & Lee Ann's Journey travel blog

On the road to Castle Dome City...

7 pretty bumpy miles depending on how fast your driver is going....Ahem,...

Off to our left we noticed a large white 'blimp'...

You can see the tether lines here...

Isn't the desert pretty in it's own unique way?

It's hard to capture it's size with photos...

One final pic...Do I see cracks on it's side????

Back out on I-95...

One big 'gun'...

Pretty palm trees...

And pretty flowers too as we make our way home for the...


While bumping along on the dirt road to Castle Dome City we noticed a large white 'blimp' off to our right. As we approached it dropped lower & lower in the sky and made for an interesting drive. So, I Google'd it and this is what I learned.......

'For the past two decades, a large aerostat balloon maintained by the U.S. Air Force has rivaled Castle Dome as a fixed point of reference over the southern portion of Yuma Proving Ground’s range. Providing an important link in the “radar fence” along the international border that detects drug-smuggling airplanes, the same principle has been applied to supporting American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For nearly a year, motorists traveling the isolated stretch of Highway 95 that passes through the northern-most section of Yuma Proving Ground have been treated to the site of several more white blimps floating high above the desert floor. They look quaint and placid as they hover, but these dirigibles are being rigorously prepared for action overseas.

Persistent Ground Surveillance Systems (PGSS) marry the most cutting-edge, high-tech detection sensors to an inexpensive platform: an ordinary blimp. The moored lighter-than-air craft float as high as 3,000 feet above the ground, lofting a sensor suite that allows ground controllers to continuously monitor a huge swath of land.

It is 70 feet long and 25 feet in diameter while deployed, yet deflated it folds like a large tarp and fits inside a four-by-four-foot case. The aerostat is inflated with helium, which is stored in long multi-container tanker trucks and delivered to the aerostat’s inflatable envelope by means of an ordinary looking hose. While in use, the aerostat is tethered to an armature on a long, portable mooring trailer. To prevent wind gusts from putting stress on the tether, the armature gently revolves in a strong breeze, rotating the entire aerostat. The dirigible is raised and lowered with a winch.

The aerostats are at YPG for integration of sophisticated sensors and, ultimately, acceptance testing. During the evaluation, the sensor suite is subjected to the presence of various military and civilian vehicles and simulated insurgents with firearms, small artillery and explosives.

Despite its relative ease of use, deploying the craft is a job for half a dozen people, all of whom need to learn proper procedures. As testing progresses at YPG, teams of contractors who will ultimately be deployed overseas receive realistic training, down to the presence of a mock forward-operating base constructed for the test. Here they learn how to inflate the craft, run the winch, operate the advanced detection sensors from their ground-based monitor station and much more.' Interesting!



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