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(July 9) -- Following a monthlong journey to New Orleans from its permanent home in Yuma, Ariz., the U.S. Navy MZ-3A blimp will -- weather permitting -- today take its first flight over the gulf oil spill, according to CNN.
What will the MZ-3A do?
1. The blimp will help the large ships in their skimming operations by helping visually direct them to patches of oil.
2. The MZ-3A will also help monitor the gulf for signs of wildlife in distress. Because it hovers in the sky, it is seen as an excellent tool for locating animals like turtles, dolphins, birds and whales trapped in the oil spill.
Why is the MZ-3A better than helicopters and planes?
1. The MZ-3A can stay in the air for up to 12 hours, far longer than other forms of aircraft being used in the gulf.
2. The MZ-3A uses far less fuel than helicopters and planes.
The giant dirigible would use radar to closely and constantly monitor activity on the ground from 65,000 feet.
March 13, 2009