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Hey Hey Hey! It's Fat Albert

The Air Force's "Fat Albert" blimp radar system on Cudjoe Key. Photo from the Monroe County Library Collection.

Hey Hey Hey!! It’s Fat Albert. No not the famous cartoon character that your parents may have watched on Saturday mornings, but rather a Top Secret government blimp that hovers over the Florida Keys. This large scale helium (just like party balloons) filled mystery blimp is believed to be larger than the Goodyear blimp and is connected to the ground through giant ropes or tethers. Fat Albert the blimp, got its name from its round and shapely appearance resembling that of the main character from the popular 1970s cartoon series (be sure to ask your parents). So, what does Fat Albert do up there in the sky? These giant blimps are used by the U.S. government to find boats and planes believed to be carrying illegal cargo as they approach the Florida coastline and can do so from as far as 200 miles away! Would you believe these blimps each cost a whopping $4 million dollars apiece and at least eight of them have floated away, been damaged from bad weather, and even shot down over the program’s 42 years of existence?

Fat Albert Ground Station

Should you decide to pay a visit to the beautiful Florida Keys, be sure to look up in the sky somewhere around Mile Marker 21 or when passing through Cudjoe Key on the beach highway known as A1A, and you just might get a glimpse of the Fat Albert.

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