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Cessna 182 Hits Blimp Wire, Three Killed

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Pilots in South Florida have said for years that it's been an accident waiting to happen, and now it has. Three people died Friday when the Cessna 182 they were in hit the cable used to tether a surveillance and propaganda blimp over Cudjoe Key in the Florida Keys. The blimp, known locally as Fat Albert, is normally flown at about 8,000 to10,000 feet, and the aircraft hit the wire at about 4,000 feet. Airspace surrounding the blimp is restricted. A camera trained on the blimp caught the impact on video. Fat Albert is one of squadron of lighter-than-air devices, more properly known as aerostats used by the federal government to detect suspected drug smugglers. Some also beam anti-Castro television signals to Cuba. Meanwhile, rescuers are also looking for the five occupants of a Piper Aztec that appears to have gone down off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.

The airplane was on its way from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Andros Island in the Bahamas when it went off radar screens. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson told the Associated Press that debris had been found, but no bodies or survivors. According to newspaper reports, the five onboard were planning a fishing trip in the Bahamas.

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