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OUR VIEW: Deflated blimp

By Editorial Board - | Jan 9, 2012

We’re not surprised that Ogden’s new mayor, Mike Caldwell, deflated plans to have a crime-fighting blimp patrol Junction City.

Both Caldwell and defeated mayoral candidate, Brandon Stevenson, had offered less than enthusiastic words about the blimp, which was heavily promoted by previous Ogden mayor, Matthew Godfrey, and former Ogden chief of police, Jon Greiner.

Although city officials believed the 54-foot-long, 4-foot-diameter helium-filled blimp would be hovering over Ogden by the end of last year, new concerns developed. One concern was the length of time it would take to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to allow the blimp to patrol at night.

Ron Carter, a lead engineer with Weber State University’s Utah Center for Aeronautical Innovation and Design, said it would take three years for the FAA to give approval for night use. Also, Ogden city and UCAID were not able to reach a deal on funding the blimp.

Mayor Caldwell described the blimp as “a curious idea” that needed to be “well-defined.” As it appeared to get more expensive, “it wasn’t feasible,” he added.

The blimp would have stayed in the air for as long as seven hours at a top speed of 40 mph at an altitude of 400 feet. There were always concerns of a civil libertarian nature at the prospect of a blimp following individuals and vehicles or patrolling over homes. One of the past arguments for the blimp was its cost, which Greiner claimed would be well below the $40,000 annually for a patrol car with all features.

So, farewell to the blimp, which was once the topic of national interest among late-night TV show hosts.

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