MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The shark landed north of its original destination thanks to a Middletown balloon pilot, according to the Journal-News.
Terry Dillard, pilot of the 132-foot-long Shark Week Blimp, said he was scheduled to land Tuesday afternoon at Lunken Airport near Cincinnati, but was convinced by his good friend Sean Askren to land at Middletown Regional Airport.
The blimp, wrapped to resemble a great white shark, was tied to a mast by several workers and will remain in Middletown until this morning when Dillard pilots it to the Knoxville, Tennessee, headquarters for the Discovery Channel.
The blimp will be placed in a hangar, then the 200-pound wrap will be removed and the blimp will be covered with different artwork, Dillard said.
When asked about the future look of the blimp, Dillard said he knew but he couldn’t say.
Dillard took off Tuesday morning from Zanesville and the blimp averages about 250 miles a day. It took three attempts to land the blimp in a grassy area near Germantown Road.
“This is tight,” Dillard said.
Several motorists along the road pulled over, got out of their vehicles and took pictures of the blimp.
“This is a pretty good location right here,” Dillard said.
A blimp pilot with 30 years experience, Dillard said it’s difficult navigating the aircraft through headwinds, thermal conditions and inclement weather.
“Blimping ain’t easy,” he said.
Dillard said his home is wherever the blimp is located. He and his crew travel from city to city. He said it takes “gypsy and circus blood” to be in the blimp business.
“It takes a certain breed of guys to live out of a suitcase,” he said.
He said the shark artwork is the best he has ever seen on a blimp. He said the front of the blimp is especially intimidating when you’re standing there and it’s coming at you.
“That’s the last thing you want to see,” he said.