We built a blimp to hunt Bigfoot….

Oh, yes we did. We’ve already used zeppelins to hunt for aliens (or at least meteorite strikes). And now, MSNBC tells us, we’ve got an odder airship for an odder task:

Using a 45-foot-long, camera-mounted, remote-controlled airship, project founder William Barnes plans to work with a team that includes one scientist to conduct nighttime flyovers of reported Bigfoot hotspots around the United States.

Barnes, a gold dredger whose current endeavor was inspired by an alleged encounter with a Bigfoot-like creature he claims to have had in 1997, thinks the helium-filled craft will allow his team to succeed where others have failed due to its unprecedented advantages in two key areas: stealth and maneuverability.

The camera aboard the craft can film in infrared, thermal imaging and high definition. And as the ship scans densely wooded regions from a penetrating vantage, it will never spook a potential subject with a broken twig or run out of breath in a one-sided foot race, Barnes believes.

Thanks to its gyroscopically stabilized housing, the ship’s camera is protected against a common shortcoming of purported video footage of quasi-mythical creatures: a suspiciously shaky image.

Jeff Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University, is the rare academic who entertains and actively investigates the possibility that Bigfoot, or something like it, exists.

“Even if definitive DNA sequence data point to the existence of a novel species, it will not suddenly become easy to study such a rare and elusive primate in the field. That’s where the Falcon Project comes in,” said Meldrum.

There’s a picture of Falcon’s Aurora Mk II at the link above, although there are better ones at the project’s homepage. It’s a cool-looking thing.

What’ll be interesting, in all likelihood, is what the airship demonstrates about its abilities to do all kinds of useful things – like peeking around bushes and nearly silently tracking animals of the sort that we already know exist. Although there’s always that chance it’ll catch something big and unexpected on camera….

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