Mysterious drone swarms over Colorado and Nebraska - Chasing Venus?

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https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mysterious-drones-swarm-over-colorado-nebraska-unleashes-origin-theories-n1108941
I think there's a degree of mass hysteria going on here. Yes, there's probably some drones been spotted, but the video evidence is rather sketchy. The image above looks like nothing more than some building lights in the distance. There are a few other shots in the NBC video:

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This one (above) shows what looks like the moon and six lights. But several of them are on a low horizontal line, like they are on the ground. This raises the possibility that the higher light is unrelated, maybe celestial? There's been a variety of alignments over the last month or so, Venus and Saturn right next to each other on Dec 12

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And still relatively close up to christmas:
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But it's not clear when any of the video was taken.

Then we have another shot, supposedly chasing the drones.
Metabunk 2019-12-31 09-32-44.jpg

Here all the lights are at ground level, nothing at all unusual is shown. Supposedly Wyatt followed these lights for 15 minutes up to 70 mph. Was he just chasing distant lights?

A more plausible drone shot is shown here:
Metabunk 2019-12-31 09-35-42.jpg


Drones at night? Sure! But not every light someone chases down a road is a drone.
 
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This national story is a late comer. This has been going on for some time.

Denver Post 12/23/19
https://www.denverpost.com/2019/12/23/drones-mystery-colorado/


-This strikes me as classic stars and planets UFO reports, including chromatic scintillation.
-This area has been a hotbed of cattle mutilation hysteria since 1975, including reports of mysterious helicopters flying about at night... and residents futilely chasing the mysterious helicopters.

What were Wyatt Harman and his girlfriend chasing? The Moon and Venus were in this configuration last night so It's tempting to say this is the Moon and Venus, but I think this is a zoomed in shot of Venus and Saturn anywhere from 12/15/19 to 12/23.

venus.png


Notice this shot doesn't match up with their unzoomed shot of what they were chasing.

Their account sounds like a classic chasing Venus story. In this case there were scattered clouds, so Venus was getting brighter and dimmer, which they interpreted as it getting closer or farther away. Or it might disappear which they interpreted as it shooting off. Classic stuff.


Parenthetically, here's a completely unrelated case of a couple pacing Venus on their morning commute. There are a number of videos across the days.

Source: https://youtu.be/CMSrcCGVe10?t=33
 
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What were Wyatt Harman and his girlfriend chasing? The Moon and Venus were in this configuration last night so It's tempting to say this is the Moon and Venus, but the I think this is a zoomed in shot of Venus and Saturn anywhere from 12/15/19 to 12/23.

venus.png
Yeah, 12/20/19 would match the angle:
Metabunk 2019-12-31 12-23-34.jpg


I've mistaken planets for UFOs before. A few weeks ago I videoed what I thought was an approaching plane for about two minute before I realized it was not actually slowly rising, but was just Venus.
 
I've kept a peripheral eye on this story since it started hitting the media several weeks back.

I'm loathe to slog over my web history as I remember it from a likely long buried comment on some news article but, I remember a comment from a CO cattle rancher's amusement over the hysteria while confidently claiming these were drones to monitor cattle health:

Source: https://youtu.be/tYvI43YueCc
 
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One thing that I have not seen mentioned concerning this "swarm" is the extreme waste of resources for a group of drones to flying together.
Drones are used to survey land most the time and you can cover a lot more land by having the drones fly spread apart.

I can not come up with any reason for large commercial drones to be flying together, I would think that this is indeed hysteria.
 
The NY Times has weighed in, indicating no doubt that there are in fact drones about.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/01/us/drones-FAA-colorado-nebraska.html

 
Oh, I'm sure some of the sightings are actual drones. I mean, there are millions of drones in the US, and once it became a news story I'd imagine a few pranksters would get in on the action.

Also, Sheriffs, while generally more reasonable than the average person, have no real experience in identifying flying objects. So I think there's a touch of false authority driving the story here.
 
Anecdotal, but interesting:

I’ve seen them. Probably 300-400 ft altitude. No noise to the ear, although the mics in my peltors can pick them up. Looking at them through a set of nods, they’re definitely a 4 rotor design. Prob 5 ft or so across although it’s hard to tell at that altitude. Air Force claims they don’t know anything about it. Same with the FAA. Tempted to paint one with my peq-14 and put it on the ground...

I tend to agree. I can personally attest to the flight times; it’s nothing for these to stay in the air for several hours, which is unheard of for a 4 rotor drone. And they’re huge. If the FAA and the military truly didn’t know anything about them, they’d be issuing requests to our agencies to shoot them down. Because these bad boys are definitely not civilian grade, and they occasionally fly high enough to be violating air space.
Source: Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/drones/comments/efgjeu/a_group_of_17_large_drones_has_been_flying_search/

It's odd, though. Predictable schedule, hours in the air and that there are no decent photos/videos, yet.
 
Looks like it is against the law to shoot them down. this company flies such craft (it's not them) and they discuss FAA laws etc
Source: https://www.facebook.com/UAVRecon1/posts/2501828866762173
 
hmmm... this will make a lot of creeps unhappy. I can hear the false flag cries already.
https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/faa-other-agencies-investigating-mysterious-colorado-drone-sightings-remote-id-rule-proposed
 
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctAN2pYCd68

The video shows two things. Firstly a single white light moving around with shat looks like camera motion
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Then some navigation lights, also with camera motion. But there's no context in either shot, so hard to say.
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Nothing in the footage really screams "drone", but again, hard to tell.
 
I think a indication might be "Jennifer Rollins was visiting her parents" - if it's a location she does not go very often, she won't be familiar with what is in the sky. So a small plane, or even Venus, might look like what she imagines a drone looks like
 
Then some navigation lights, also with camera motion. But there's no context in either shot, so hard to say.
that bit was taken 3 nights later by someone else .. so no idea why it was tacked on.

I think a indication might be "Jennifer Rollins was visiting her parents" - if it's a location she does not go very often, she won't be familiar with what is in the sky.
she sounds youngish, so chances are she possibly grew up there. Not that I would have any idea where Venus was at my moms house. It's like contrails.. would you ever notice it? I do notice Orion everywhere I go, but only Orion.
it only took her a millisecond of a pause to know it was "south west" ... which is weirder than the drones, that a woman would know that so quickly. She didnt even ask her husband. I wonder where he and her parents are.

I don't mean to sound so suspicious but I looked for videos and pics and all these "sightings" and no decent footage? she doesn't even pan to show us other ones? it's as bad as the "ufo" videos.
 
From the story...
In the YT video she says it's on the SW horizon.

This is a typical description of a scintillating star. People perceive the flashing colors of chromatic scintillation as rotation. Prime suspect in this case is Sirius.

- because it was hidden by clouds.

Small movements - bobbing up and down, swaying, etc. are reported. These movements are actually caused by saccadic eye movements.


Let's just call this what it is- a UFO flap.

Typical features of a UFO flap
-Media reports, that are really nothing more than human interest stories - "fluff pieces" that rely on nothing more than witness reports. Local newspaper stories are repeated or repackaged uncritically by national media. The national media then lend the story "gravitas." It was in the NYT!
-Local police reports give the story the "gravitas" of expert witnesses. In reality these are naive witnesses looking up at the sky on long boring nights and seeing things they haven't looked at before. They start swapping stories with other cops and locals. You don't dare call their "expert" testimony into question because it's "disrespectful."
-Ambiguous witness descriptions that are misinterpreted by readers. Distant lights are described confidently by the witness as flying craft with distinct shapes and purposeful movements. The reader then imagines something very close by and distinct. In reality witnesses often describe stars as having complicated shapes with exact dimensions. They don't report apparent size, they report what they think the absolute size is.
-Resistance to mundane explanations, because these stories are so vivid and distinct. "These are ordinary people, not crackpots; and they're not drunk!" Or they're cops, who are "expert witnesses."

I would bet money that not a single drone has been involved in this flap. Astronomical bodies, ordinary aircraft and ground lights are more than adequate explanations.
 
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I wish I had more time to go into this, but this northeast area of Colorado has a long history of Cattle Mutilation hysteria and lore. This article summarizes what happened there in the summer of 1975. Phantom helicopters were (and are) an important part of the lore. This passage is about phantom helicopter chases in the very same area of Colorado where we're getting these phantom drone reports.

https://www.fortmorgantimes.com/2018/10/31/cause-of-mutilations-questioned/

When you read more detailed local reports from the time it's clear that these people were chasing astronomical bodies (stars and planets), and perhaps distant aircraft as well.

Going back to March of 1973, the first wave of phantom helicopter hysteria started in Iowa. At the time they were linked to modern day rustlers. The helicopters were suspected of being scouts. A very similar phantom helicopter chase happened there in Iowa, with local police and a posse of citizens linked by radio.

By that summer the phantom helicopters were suspected of not just being scouts but of lowering ropes, lifting cattle and flying away with them. The hysteria moved westward through Kansas and into Colorado, and the phantom helicopters became linked to cattle mutilations.
 
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https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/homeland-security-fbi-now-investigating-mystery-drones-in-northeastern-colorado?fbclid=IwAR20RI92MZu0mEyn2HU-YT0hxKXDsng5tRl9hK6LQUyOVC8hvF3wK5r_QYM
The Viaero videos are something to chew on:
Source: https://twitter.com/ViaeroWXCams/status/1212924430608818176

Source: https://twitter.com/ViaeroWXCams/status/1212918638308495360

Source: https://twitter.com/ViaeroWXCams/status/1212908107157798912


These are timelapse video. To my eye they show cars below the horizon, and planes above it. I'm not sure what suggests "drones" here.
 
What's the compass heading in degrees? About 340? It's a short focal length lens. A camera pointing in that direction would have some of the planes heading toward Denver in the frame. And there seems to be an air corridor north of I-76 with planes going to SLC, Boston, LAX, etc.
 
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In any case, what would make anyone think these are drones?

(They couldn't be airplanes. I don't believe in airplanes. - Old Ufology joke)

Are they saying there are no airplanes in this footage at all? That would be extraordinary. Okay, so some of them must be airplanes. Which ones exactly? And, which ones are drones... exactly? What's the difference?



Or is this just one more case of people getting a bit carried away by an entertaining story?
 
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This Facebook group is an interesting look at part of what is driving this flap
https://www.facebook.com/groups/572859246611233/

It's full of people eager for sightings, and posting accounts, photos, and videos of lights in the sky. And things like:

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Obviously a plane.

Others appear to be going after Venus:

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Or describing things that sounds like Venus and some stars:

Metabunk 2020-01-06 22-17-56.jpg


If a "bright one" was appearing at the same spot for two weeks, then someone would have gone and looked at it, with all the media attention. So, despite her protestations, I'd think that one is probably Venus.

Of course, it's hard to say just from an eyewitness account.
 
When a UFO witness, without being prompted, says, "It's not X," there's a 95% chance it is X.

Cut to a shot of an airplane.















Cut to a shot of distant aircraft, and probably some twinkling stars as well.



People suddenly start looking at the sky and see things they've been living beneath, but never looked at. They scan the skies and get shocked at what they're seeing for the first time. Then they insist there's never been such a thing before. There's an old term for that among veteran Ufologists: "sky shock."

The planes and stars were there all the time, but now people are scanning the skies. The media run uncritical human interest "fluff pieces," and people trade war stories. Witnesses are now primed to see stars and airplanes as "Y" and they see 'Y." Size and distance estimates in the featureless night sky are way off. People describe points of light dramatically and describe stars as having complicated shapes. "Y" can be flying saucers or, now, drones. This is a classic UFO flap.

Another classic episode of mass delusion that had nothing to do with the sky: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_windshield_pitting_epidemic

The windshield pits and dings were there all the time, but then people started to look at them.
 
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At last a skeptical news report.
https://abcnews.go.com/US/high-tech-plane-joins-search-mysterious-drones-colorado/story?id=68128257

It looks like we're getting to the stage in this particular flap when the more reasoned stories start. Perhaps I'm a hardhearted cynic, but I think that can be explained by a changing of the guard. When the flap is young, low level reporters who are usually stuck doing reports on minor local affairs, who are hungry for a big story, do these uncritical and dramatic fluff pieces. When the story gets bigger they get replaced by more seasoned reporters who do some research and reasoned reporting.

This plane isn't going to find anything. Cue the cover-up conspiracy theories.
 
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Another story describes the plane in more detail: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/31773/surveillance-plane-joins-intensifying-hunt-for-mystery-drones-over-colorado-and-nebraska

BTW, this story includes a photo of that Cessna 208B.
 
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A group of Wichita, Kan., UAP enthusiasts may have been responsible for some of the mysterious drone sightings over Colorado in December and January.

Michael Spicer of Durango, Colo., told the Journal-Advocate late Friday afternoon that a group known as ArchAngleRECON from Wichita has been chasing what he believes is the mysterious “unidentified aerial phenomenon” first encountered by a Navy fighter pilot in 2004.

Spicer said his group was trying to track what they believe is a new technology aircraft some have dubbed the TicTac because that’s how it was described in the Navy reports. He said not only was his group tracking the so-called TicTac itself, but also another aircraft they believe was flying underneath it.

Spicer said he couldn’t confirm that all of the stories people told about drones could be attributed to ArchAngelRECON’s flights, but did say the group sends up flights of between six and 12 drones that fly patterns based on longitude and latitude, which was why they appeared to be flying a “grid pattern.”

.....

Spicer said the group was unaware of the stir caused by drones until he was contacted recently by the Federal Aviation Administration. He said he was interviewed by special Agent Michael Bumberger of the FAA’s Investigations and Law Enforcement Assistance Program. He said none of ArchAngelRECON’s drones were ever flown anywhere near any airport, and they did not encounter any other civilian aircraft.

“If there was any interference with any other aircraft, that absolutely was not ours,” he said.
https://www.journal-advocate.com/2020/01/17/drone-mystery-solved-wichita-group-says-they-might-be-responsible-for-some-sightings/
 
I live in Keenesburg, CO and there is A LOT of airplane traffic all over the area. Lines and lines of AC taking their turn to land at DIA. One lane of AC traffic comes exactly from the Otis area where people were freaking out, one comes from the north of Greely where the lady was "feeling vulnerable", etc. There are literally hundreds of AC going all directions in our little area around DIA most flying extremely low but no noise and some lower making noise depending on the ATC route. I fully believe that people are seeing these. Those FB posts talking about the "bright one to the SW" has to be Uranus, it is extremely bright right now just above the mountains from our POV and the "blinky" one is most likely the bright Binary star I like to watch with my telescope to the SE just above the horizon at the eye level of most AC traffic in the early evening. I have enjoyed hearing people argue about this locally. This got me back into flying my R/C plane and chopper.
 
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