The pilot of the Goodyear blimp Columbia never saw the attacker that ripped a hole in his aircraft's skin - a radio-controlled model airplane.

Nick Nicolary was at the controls of the 192-foot blimp Sunday when the big airship started losing helium."I was making a normal approach and I felt a shudder on the rudder pedals," Nicolary said. "The first hint we had a problem was when the ship began to get heavy, with the nose high and tail low. I knew I was losing helium but didn't know why."

The reason was that a couple of pranksters were buzzing the blimp with their 4-foot-long radio-controlled model planes from a nearby parking lot. One of the planes hit the blimp, ripping a hole in its side and forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing with six passengers on board.

Late Sunday night, deputies said John William Moyer, 28, Redondo Beach, was booked on a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and held on $5,000 bail. His 4-foot-wingspan Thunder Tiger remote-controlled plane was confiscated.

The deflating blimp landed safely and there were no injuries.