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Aircraft warned about missing 'flyborg'

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Two airports were warned after a giant robotic balloon escaped from an award-winning science centre.

Staff at the Magna Science Adventure Centre, in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, had to inform aviation authorities after the "flyborg" floated off.

The 13ft long airship can expand to four times its usual size as it flies and both Manchester and Sheffield airports were informed of its presence.

The flyborg has a computerised brain which allows it to avoid obstacles.

A spokesman for Magna said:"The flyborgs were being moved from their workshop to a viewing area for the public.

"The airships, constructed of lightweight polymer film, were tethered all the time to the people moving them but they had to be un-tethered to take the flyborg through the visitor attraction's entrance doors.

"The two technicians held on to the airship's gondola but were surprised by a very strong freak gust of wind which ripped the airship out of their hands and sucked it up into the air, leaving them holding the gondola."

The airship, which is valued at £15,000 was designed by Professor Noel Sharkey - a BBC Robot Wars judge - and his team at the Creative Robotics Unit at Magna for indoor flying robot exhibitions.

The centre has warned that the flyborg could fly for a week before it deflates but staff have offered a reward for its recovery.