The MZ-3A lighter-than-air “blimp” will be in the area this weekend, as part of exercises being conducted by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the Navy’s sole Science & Technology research squadron, Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1).
Also, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport will hold an emergency preparedness exercise on Saturday, as a simulated aircraft accident will test the airportâ€™s emergency response while providing hands-on training to airport and airline staff, hospitals, local jurisdictions and other emergency personnel.
Owned by the U.S. Navy, the MZ-3A is stationed at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md. It will conduct aerial mapping operations within the Washington D.C. Flight Restriction Zone (DCA-FRZ) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, (USDA-ARS) Beltsville, Md., and at U.S. Army Fort Belvoir located in Fairfax.
In addition, the MZ-3A will conduct mapping operations within the DCA-Special Flight Restrictions Area (DCA-SFRA) and at times will traverse the region to the north to Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK) in Maryland and to the southwest near Culpepper, Va., (CJR) before ending operations Oct. 5.
Reagan National Airport will hold is triennial emergency exercise Saturday, Sept. 21 from 8:30 a.m.-noon on airport property. During the exercise, emergency personnel will respond as in a real emergency, including the use of sirens, firefighting equipment and helicopters.
The exercise will begin with an announcement of a simulated accident over the Airports Authority’s emergency frequency. On the morning of the exercise, emergency vehicles will be staged in Arlington, to better simulate their true response time in an actual emergency. The full-scale emergency preparedness exercise is part of Federal Aviation Administration-mandated safety training to ensure airports are prepared for real-life aircraft emergencies. Airports are required to conduct these trainings every three years in order to be certified by the FAA.
Airport officials report that some of the exercise elements may be seen or heard on Saturday morning from areas surrounding the airport â€“ especially in Arlington and Alexandria near U.S. Route 1, George Washington Memorial Parkway, I-395 and along the Potomac River near the airport. The exercise is not open to the public.