A man flying a radio-controlled model airplane from a nearby field intentionally buzzed the Goodyear blimp Columbia before ramming it Sunday, puncturing its skin and forcing the shipto make an emergency landing at its airfield in Carson, authorities said.
No one was injured.
The blimp, with seven people aboard, was en route to its base at 19200 S. Main St. in Carson at 4:30 p.m. when it passed over a vacant field near a Holiday Inn in Carson where model plane enthusiasts frequently fly their craft, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Harman said.
Witnesses gave investigators the license number of the plane owner's car, and deputies later arrested John William Moyer, 28, at his Redondo Beach home, where they recovered a damaged Thunder Tiger radio-controlled plane with a 4-foot wing span, a Sheriff's spokesman said.
Moyer was booked at the Carson substation for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon and jailed in lieu of $5,000 bail.
"It wasn't an accident," Harman said. "The plane buzzed the blimp seven or eight times. The pilot and passengers clearly saw it."
The plane then flew away, made a turn and flew directly into the airship's starboard side opening a three-foot diameter hole in the craft's skin, the lieutenant said. A Goodyear official said the skin is made of Dacron impregnated with Neoprene.
"The blimp began to deflate immediately and headed straight for the airfield where it made a hard emergency landing," Harman said.
Workers at the Goodyear Airship Operations Center, adjacent to the San Diego Freeway in Carson, temporarily patched the hole with duct tape, and were trying to keep the blimp from deflating further to prevent structural damage, Harman said.