Key’s Top Secret Blimps!
If this is so top-secret then why is the road it’s on named Blimp Road? (as seen below) OK, at one time it was top-secret but you know what… having two Blimps bigger than the Goodyear Blimp in the air at one time a mile or so off of the busiest road in the Florida Keys tends to give away any secrets you might have had! Drive down the aptly named Blimp Road at Mile Marker 21 to the very end and you’ll pass the world’s smallest US Airforce Base that houses these out-of-place occupants.
Depending on the weather and mission requirements, these blimps routinely fly 5,000 – 10,000 feet up and are capable of reaching as high as 15,000 feet. The blimps are made of rubberized plastic and because of their unusual appearance were doubted “Fat Alberts” and weigh about 6,500 lbs without helium. Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems are their correct names, one of the “Fat Alberts” blimps are equipped to beam TV Marti signals to Cuba that are routinely jammed by the Cuban Government. “Fat Albert 2” is used to detect boats and planes approaching the Florida coast from up to 150 miles away. And if you think for a second that those are the only two reasons that our US Government has ever used these for in the past… then I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona that I’d love to sell you! OK, without being naive, those are the only two reasons that they are willing to tell the public I assure you!
These fat boys are all but cheap, each one of these behemoths cost a whooping $4,000,000 EACH… and believe it or not, there’s been at least 8 of them in the past that have been lost for a total of $32,000,000 tax dollars that just literally floated away! The demise of the 8 lost blimps range from local gun fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, ropes breaking, crashing down to the ground all the way to being shot down with rockets over the ocean so that they wouldn’t end up in Cuban hands. Sometimes the truth is better than fiction, can you see the blimp being shot down by missiles… I would’ve loved to see that!
Anyways, you can see these blimps either in the air or grounded on Cudjoe Key at Mile Marker 21. They are visible from US-1, but for a closer look drive down Blimp Road all the way to its end.
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