Commenter Jay Noble is wondering about those drone formations that are being seen over thinly-populated areas of Colorado and Nebraska. So am I. Jay did the research, and I did a little more, so here’s what we know and don’t know, mostly the latter.
Since about the middle of December, about 17 drones, with six-foot wingspans, have been operating in grid patterns from 7 to 10 at night in this area. The brightly lit drones fly at about 100 feet in the air. A little bit of video here, but lights in the night sky aren’t particularly interesting.
The grid-like flight patterns suggest a search or assessment mission. One hypothesis on a dicey website (not gonna link) and apparently spreading is that they are searching for a lost nuclear warhead from one of the missile silos in the area. I’ll bet money that’s not the case. The last time the Air Force lost a missile warhead, the preceding events were quite obvious. It was in 1980, in Damascus, Arkansas, and the warhead was lost because the missile underneath it blew up.
Speculations also include that one or more of the military bases in the area (Colorado Springs, Offutt Air base) is testing a drone operation. This seems unlikely, because the military has plenty of controlled air space in which to do such a thing. Also unlikely, but possible, is that one of the military units is working this without authorization. A Facebook friend of Jay’s speculates that it’s a classified technology; a “target item” is emplaced in a large search area during the day, and the search takes place in the night.
A hobbyist could be playing around, or a commercial operation could be mapping or conducting other types of reconnaissance.
Law enforcement met to coordinate Monday night, January 6, and told the public to be on the watch for the control vehicle, likely a large van or box trailer. They are advising people not to shoot the drones down, which may be illegal.
It looks like the civilian authorities genuinely do not know what the drones are up to or who is behind them. If it’s the military, this is unconscionable. They have other places to test such things. Or they could announce that they’re doing a test.
If it’s a private organization or hobbyist, they may be violating the law.