- I don't want to say it's probably aliens, but… it could be aliens.
Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash
Okay. We just have to do one more visit back to 2019. Since the middle of December, more than a dozen mystery drones have been flying in Colorado and Nebraska…
The mystery drones have an estimated six-foot wingspan and stay about 200-300 feet in the air. They fly in a square over Phillips and Yuma counties every night, according to Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliot. There is has been at least 17 drones since the week of the 16th (December 2019). They emerge each night at about 7 p.m. and disappear around 10 p.m., according to what Sheriff Elliot told Denver Post on the 16th. “They’ve been doing a grid search, a grid pattern. They fly in a square and then they fly another square.”
No One Knows Whom They Belong To
The sheriff’s office can’t explain where the drones come from or where they disappear to at 10. p.m. By the estimated size and the amount of them, police say it’s unlikely they are being flown by hobbyists. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told the sheriff’s office that the drones aren’t theirs, and the US Air Force said they weren’t theirs either. The FAA said that the agency likely has no information on them. Drone pilots aren’t required to file flight plans, unless they’re flying in controlled airspaces, like an airport.
Undersheriff William Myers
On the 20th, Undersheriff Myers said he watched eight of the drones fly along the Yuma County border near intersection 385 and County Road 54. At the same time, a single drone hovered about 25 miles away over the town of Paoli, where it stayed a night. Eight more drones flew about 10 miles down the road. “Overhead they were probably doing 30-40 mph. They weren’t racing or flying around with speed,” said Undersheriff Myers. The drones fly too high to be heard but can be seen by their strobing white light and flashing red, blue and green lights.
Any Other Theories?
Undersheriff Myers suspects the drones might be operated by a private company, although the drones haven’t targeted any obvious landmarks or features, they’ve flown over towns and empty fields. “They don’t seem to be malicious. They don’t seem to be doing anything that would indicate criminal activity,” Sheriff Elliot said.
Vic Moss, a commercial photographer, drone pilot and co-owner of an online drone school called Drone U, said n the 16th that he’d bet either a company or a government agency is flying the aircraft. “We have a number of drone companies here in Colorado, and they’re very innovative. So maybe they’re testing something of theirs out in that area because it is very rural. But everyone that I know of, they coordinate all that stuff with local authorities to prevent this very situation. They all very much want people to understand drones and not cause this kind of hysteria.”
More From Moss
The grid pattern suggests that the drones operators might be creating a map of carrying of a search, Moss said. However, he added that some drone operators will fly at night to use infrared cameras, which are sometimes used in agriculture to examine crops. Moss urged people not to try and shoot the drones down, for two reasons: 1. Their batteries can cause intense fires and 2. Because shooting a drone is a federal crime. “It becomes a self-generating fire that burns until it burns itself out. If you shoot a drone down over your house and it lands on your house, you might not have a house in 45 minutes.”
Even If A Pilot Was Found, They Probably Aren’t Breaking Any Laws, According To Under Sheriff Myers…
“The way Colorado law is written, none of the statues fit for harassment or trespassing. Colorado hasn’t gotten on board with identifying the airspace around your property as the actual premises, so we don’t have anything we could charge.” The FAA does have rules for any drones under 55 pounds and requires such an aircraft to be flown during daylight hours, within the sight of the pilot, no higher than 400 feet above the ground, and not directly over people. However, pilots can apply for and receive waivers from the FAA that exempts them from these rules.
It’s Unclear Whether The Drones Would Be Governed By These Rules
A drone the size of the ones that have been spotted would likely weigh more than 55 pounds. That means the drone operator would be flying commercially and would likely need to be a manned aviator (an actually pilot). CEO of 1Up Aerial Drone Services in Golden, Chuck Adams, sais that he wasn’t sure who might be flying the drones, but that his company does offer drone defense system that can help people on the ground discover where drones are being flown from. “It’s something we put up with radio frequency and acoustics, and you can tell where the operator is and where the drones are. We can’t take them out of the sky, but we can give awareness.”
“It’s Not Santa Or His Reindeer.”
Sheriff Elliot said that the sheriff’s office received nine calls from 16th-23rd about the drones. He said that residents no longer need to call to report a simple sighting of the drones. “We just want to know if one lands, if we can get our hands on it, or if they see someone operating them, that’s what we’re looking for now. We know they exist. Their not Santa or his reindeer,” said Sheriff Elliot. He said he could rule out Santa, even if it was a before Christmas.