WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - You could see something unusual in the sky starting on Saturday.
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory says the Navy's Scientific Development Squadron ONE will launch the MZ-3A lighter-than-air "blimp" around the D.C. area.
According to the Navy, "the MZ-3A is propeller-driven by two 180 horsepower Lycoming engines producing a top speed just under 50 knots with an operational payload capability of up to 2,500 pounds. The manned 178-foot LTA craft can remain aloft and nearly stationary for more than twelve hours..."
The MZ-3A will conduct aerial mapping operations in the D.C. Flight Restriction Zone at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, in Beltsville, Md. and at U.S. Army Fort Belvoir located in Fairfax, Va. It will also conduct operations within the DCA-Special Flight Restrictions Area and fly in the region to the north to Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland and to the southwest near Culpepper, Va.
The MZ-3A's flight in the D.C. area will end Oct. 5. It will then leave for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., according to Navy officials.