Blimp Crashes Into Wooded Area Near Boston

An advertising blimp crashed into a wooded area Tuesday when the pilot lost rudder control shortly after takeoff and tried to make an emergency landing on a nearby beach, authorities said.

Instead, the 90-foot-long blimp became stuck atop trees near an elementary school in this town about 25 miles north of Boston. The pilot was not injured, authorities said.

"The blimp is suspended 30 feet in the air," said State Police Trooper Thomas Ryan.

Robert Mezzetti, manager of Beverly Municipal Airport, said the blimp left around 12:15 p.m. and got caught in the trees shortly before 1 p.m.

The Lightship Group, an Orlando, Florida-based company, owns the aircraft and rents advertising space to Hood, a Chelsea, Massachusetts-based maker of dairy products. He said the blimp owner has rented space at the airport for the 15 years.

When the pilot started to have problems, he tried to land on a beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea but instead got caught in the trees, Mezzetti said.

Mickey Wittman, director of client services for The Lightship Group, said the pilot was the only person aboard. The company owns and operates 18 blimps worldwide, he said.

The pilot was doing "exposure flying" — or recreational flying — and was not on a business run, Wittman said.

The A-60 Airship was manufactured by American Blimp Corp., the parent company of Lightship Group, Wittman said.

"Occasionally it happens," he said of blimp accidents. "I've never known anyone to be hurt."

The Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission is investigating. An official at the agency did not immediately return a call to comment.