SAN FRANCISCO -- A blimp emblazoned with the XFL logo came
crashing down into an Oakland waterfront restaurant after its
two-man crew was forced to evacuate.
The wayward blimp meandered for 20 minutes after the two men
jumped to safety around 1:10 p.m. Tuesday, according to Oakland
Airport spokeswoman Cyndy Johnson. The pilot sustained minor
The pilot attempted an emergency landing at the airport, but he
and a student pilot -- the only two onboard -- were forced to jump
from the gondola because they could not control the blimp, Johnson
said. A landing crew was not able to tie it down.
The unattended blimp then floated five miles north over the
Oakland Estuary, at one point reaching 1,600 feet, until its
gondola caught on a sailboat mast in the Central Basin marina. It
draped over the roof of the Oyster Reef restaurant -- next to where
the boat was moored -- and a nearby power line.
The pilot was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he
was listed in stable condition, said Jim Devitt, associate hospital
administrator. The student pilot followed the blimp on the ground
and was treated and released by an ambulance at the marina. Their
names have not been released.
No one on the ground was hurt.
The blimp, which bore advertising for Spalding and the XFL,
sustained about $2.5 million in damage, Johnson said. The
restaurant and sailboat are being inspected, but a spokeswoman for
the Oakland fire department said damage was minimal.
Authorities from the National Transportation Safety Board and
the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating what went
"There could have been a number of reasons," Grant Murray,
spokesman for blimp owner Airship USA, told reporters. "An airship
moves with great mass and it's very difficult to control it."
The XFL football league, the creation of World Wrestling
Federation head Vince McMahon, is set to start early next month.
|A blimp advertising the new XFL and Spalding sits atop the roof of a waterfront restaurant.||
Exclusive Page 2 investigation: Who crashed the XFL blimp?