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Marfa, Texas: Border Patrol Blimp

A semi-stationary blimp, sent aloft while tethered to a circular track. The TARS (Tethered Aerostat Radar System) watches for border crosser activity.

US Hwy 90, Marfa, TX
On the southwest side of US Hwy 90, either 15 miles east of Valentine or 20 miles west of Marfa. Visible from the highway, but signs warn to keep away!
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Visitor Tips and News About Border Patrol Blimp

Reports and tips from visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.

High wind day.

Border Patrol Blimp

On this day, high winds prevented the blimp from being flown.

[Erma, 03/10/2020]

TARS blimp.

Mysterious Blimp

Just caught the blimp in action. It is called TARS and is used for aircraft surveillance by the border patrol. No more mystery

[Brad, 01/01/2019]


Tethered Aerostat Radar Balloon

Traveling along Texas 90, between Marfa and Van Horn, is a Zeppelin-shaped white balloon attached to the ground. It wasn't until I passed it later in the day, looking in my rear view mirror, that I saw it aloft. The balloon is used to locate low-flying aircraft coming across the border, presumably with illegal drugs (Drug traffickers use slow, low-flying airplanes to avoid detection). The balloon is only aloft when weather permits.

Apparently, there are other such balloons in border areas and the southwest. There was a dramatic decrease in the amount of airborne drug traffic since the first Southwest border balloon went up above Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 1987.

[Brian Berkun, 04/09/2015]
Marfa TX Air Force Blimp

This is an Air Force station with a semi-stationary blimp that is sent aloft while tethered to a circular track. Not sure what its mission is but it is a weird site to see in the middle of nowhere. [Rick Kincaid, 01/19/2014]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Giant MarfaGiant Marfa, Marfa, TX - 13 mi.
Prada MarfaPrada Marfa, Valentine, TX - 17 mi.
McDonald ObservatoryMcDonald Observatory, McDonald Observatory, TX - 24 mi.
In the region:
Border Patrol 9/11 Memorial, Alpine, TX - 37 mi.

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