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Lighter than Air

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By KERRY CRAIG
News-Telegram Staff Writer
    A slightly different kind of flying machine made a stop at Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport Tuesday evening and will remain here until Friday when it departs for San Antonio.
    The DirecTV blimp I-Lean was travelling from Arkansas to Fort Worth when conditions made it necessary to cut the trip short, according to crew member John Lanna, who said flying conditions and friendly local folks made the local airport the place to stop.
    “Weather and the friendly people,” Lanna said. “We know about this area. We were trying to get to Fort Worth, but the weather said we couldn't go any further because of safety issues, so we said 'Let's at least make it to Sulphur Springs.' We've been here before and this airport and the local people have always been nice to us — that's why we're here.”
    The name I-Lean comes from the fact the blimp leans slightly to the left because of the lighted marquis sign on that side of the envelope.
    It's that lighted sign that is seen at many major nighttime sporting events including baseball, football and NASCAR races. Tthe blimp serves as a camera platform for television broadcasts of those sporting events, as well.
    The blimp is 170 feet long and is about three stories tall and uses the lighter-than-air gas, helium, to keep it airborne.
    It travels with at least two pilots, mechanics, flight engineers and a ground crew of at least 18 people.

 

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