Mysterious drone swarms over Colorado and Nebraska - Chasing Venus?

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The strange lights began appearing in the night sky a week before Christmas.

A formation of unidentified drones, some in groups of 30, have been reported flying high above a corner of rural northeast Colorado and western Nebraska, usually between 7 and 10 p.m. By some accounts, the drones have wingspans of 6 feet or more.
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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.
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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:
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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

The drones stay about 200 feet to 300 feet in the air and fly steadily in squares of about 25 miles, he said. There are at least 17 drones; they emerge each night around 7 p.m. and disappear around 10 p.m., he said.

On Friday, Myers said he watched eight of the large drones flying along the Yuma County border near the intersection of U.S. 385 and County Road 54. At the same time, a single drone hovered about 25 miles away over the town of Paoli — it didn’t move all night, just hovered over the town...

“Overhead they were probably doing 30, 40 mph,” he said. “They weren’t racing or flying around with speed.”

One resident who spotted a drone last week gave chase, Elliott said, driving behind it at about 50 mph, but lost the drone when he ran out of gas in Washington County.

The machines fly too high to be heard from the ground but can be seen by their strobing white lights along with red, blue and green lights, Myers said.
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-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.


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.

This video, taken on Jan 12 on my way to work, of a UFO I see almost daily in Youngsville, Wake Forest, and Franklinton NC. I haven't traveled outside this area since the object I'm focusing on came to my attention, in mid December. Video is shot through windshield, and through driver's window after stop light. I have been seeing this on every clear morning and evening when my husband and I go out. I decided to try to get video every time I see it and made it public in the hope that it can be explained. It appears to follow the car's route, and it appears smaller or farther away when we're in heavy traffic or around a lot of other drivers/pedestrians.
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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.


Yeah, 12/20/19 would match the angle:
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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:

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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.

Since before Christmas, sheriff’s departments in the region have been bombarded with reports of large drones with blinking lights and wingspans of up to 6 feet flying over rural towns and open fields. The drones have unnerved residents, prompted a federal investigation and made international news, even though they may be perfectly legal. And still, they remain unexplained.

“In terms of aircraft flying at night and not being identified, this is a first for me personally,” said Sheriff James Brueggeman of Perkins County, Neb., who has worked in law enforcement for about 28 years and who saw the drones while on patrol Tuesday night.
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“Most people are very reasonable, and they say it could be somebody mapping or doing topography,” said Michael Yowell, a sheriff’s captain in Lincoln County, Colo., whose house was buzzed over by a drone squadron on New Year’s Eve. “But you can’t rule out what you don’t know.”
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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.


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

Update regarding sUAS (drone) sightings in NE/CO.

As the Midwest's largest sUAS inspection-based turn-key service company, we routinely use 'drones' fly power lines and substations throughout CO, NE, and KS. These operations are conducted both during the day and at night, while all adhere to the legal requirements outlined by the FAA, part 107 for unmanned aircraft commercial operations. There are many reasons to operate at night.

Hopefully this post will address and clear up a handful of misconceptions, and come from an informed credible source to minimize the terrifying gossip.


3) As part of the airspace topic, many believe they 'own' the airspace above their property, including many claims I've read include 50' - 300' from property owners. As a general rule, by the FAA laws and do NOT. You may not like/agree with this, but that is the law that will be used in court if you decide to destroy one of these craft, which if found guilty and the sUAS entity was operating lawfully, prison time may result, outlined per the current statutes.

4) It is VERY hard to distinguish altitude and size of an object like this at night. With wind and terrain, you may also not be able to hear anything, including MANNED aircraft. You shine spotlight/laser at the craft, and it's a manned aircraft, you could cause way more problems.
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hmmm... this will make a lot of creeps unhappy. I can hear the false flag cries already.

and the FAA has proposed a rule that would require nearly all drones to be remotely identifiable.

The FAA announced the proposed rule last week in the midst of the sightings in several counties in northeastern Colorado and at least one in Nebraska . Residents there have reported to both law enforcement and news outlets that packs of drones have been seen in at least five counties flying in grid patterns after sunset in December.
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Jennifer Rollins was visiting her parents in rural Yuma County the day after Christmas when her husband looked up and said, “Hey, look, some drones.” “We thought he was kidding because we’ve been reading the news stories,” she said. But he wasn’t — up in the air was some sort of contraption, with red and flashing white lights, that rotated as it moved up and down through the sky.
Read the story:
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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...
...up in the air was some sort of contraption, with red and flashing white lights, that rotated as it moved up and down through the sky.

Rollins watched one apparent drone overhead for about a half-hour, capturing a short video of it, before it flew out of sight, she said Tuesday.

“You could see that it was rotating,” she said. “You could see things sticking off to the sides. It was crazy.”
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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.

It flew out of sight
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- 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.

The next morning, a call came in from Alvin Dinnson who found a heifer mutilated on his ranch, 27 miles south of Fort Morgan.

That night, local deputies were summoned to the Brush area by a network of citizen band radio operators. This group of 15 members of I-80 Control observed and pursued a helicopter for 1.5 hours; keeping the police informed of the helicopter’s location.

[Moving on to another chase story]

Gary Hanson and Bill Rasmussen spotted a chopper at 10:15 p.m. on Aug. 20, 1975. They chased it 50 miles between Snyder and Goodrich, until one of the men’s tires blew out. The other man stopped to help him, and as they changed the tire the helicopter remained stationery in the sky about 2-3 miles away. When they jumped back in their cars and resumed the chase, the helicopter led them further west, always remaining in view of the two pursuers.

That same night the Logan County sheriff’s department spent a busy night chasing suspected helicopters.

The first report that came in was of low flying copters around Merino. The sheriff’s deputies tracked it and another helicopter with an airplane and ground vehicles.

They also received reports of another copter between Stoneham and New Raymer and another unconfirmed report of a helicopter landing several miles northwest of Sterling.

Numerous calls of helicopter sightings were reported in southwestern Nebraska that night, as well. Law enforcement officials there tracked helicopters for five hours, because they believed that the helicopters were connected to the cattle mutilations in Colorado.
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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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"FBI, DOD, FAA, the list goes on," said Kevin McElyea, the Director of Colorado's Information Analysis Center (CIAC), a division of Homeland Security now on the case . "We're all concerned."

New video from Viaero Wireless weather cameras across Colorado, including in New Raymer on New Year's Eve, show what appears to be the drones flying in packs.

"Flashing lights moving across the sky," said McElyea. "What I think attracts a lot of attention is not only the quantity, but the ability for them to be flying together in packs."
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The Viaero videos are something to chew on:




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

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:

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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.

That's not a plane.
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Cut to a shot of an airplane.

It was only dark for half an hour and drones could be seen all over the sky and appear as twinkling lights; sometimes just one, but other times there were clusters of six or more.
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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:

The Seattle windshield pitting epidemic is a phenomenon which affected Bellingham, Seattle, and other communities of Washington State in April, 1954; it is considered an example of a mass delusion.[1] It was characterized by widespread observation of previously unnoticed windshield holes, pits and dings, leading residents to believe that a common causative agent was at work. It was originally thought to be the work of vandals but the rate of pitting was so great that residents began to attribute it to everything from sand flea eggs to nuclear bomb testing.
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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.

In the latest bid to solve the question of mysterious drone sightings vexing authorities in northeastern Colorado, a state surveillance airplane loaded with sophisticated cameras and sensors was launched Monday evening.

However, it did not detect any suspicious drone activity Monday despite a five hour-flight over the area besieged by recent reports of drone sightings, officials told ABC News.

The plane took off around 5 p.m. Monday, flying a spaghetti-shaped pattern over northeast Colorado before returning to its base at the Centennial Airport south of Denver, according to FlightRadar.

Adding to the growing skepticism surrounding the "mystery drone" sightings over Colorado and Nebraska, a federal official told ABC News that the investigation has so far turned up no evidence of any suspicious drone activity.
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"This is sort of a modern version of the UFO hysteria in that people think they see something and all of a sudden everybody thinks they see something," said retired Col. Steve Ganyard, a former Marine fighter pilot and ABC News consultant. "But they're really seeing nothing or they're seeing something that's eventually going to be easily explained scientifically."
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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:

...the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control has supplied at least one of its two multi-mission Pilatus PC-12 turboprops, which operate out of Centennial, Colorado. The MMA, or multi-mission aircraft, are equipped with Wescam MX-15HDi sensor balls featuring three separate cameras, including infrared and electro-optical types with wide and narrow fields of views. The MX-15HDi is sensitive enough to detect a small campfire from 28,000 feet and even though they wouldn't have a very hot infrared signature, the MX-15HDi's medium wavelength infrared sensor could identify a drone type and track one it as it flies low over the ground, especially considering they are lit up, to begin with. It could also allow the PC-12 to spot and follow any potential command vehicles on the ground in the vicinity of the drones – if such a vehicle does indeed exist.

In addition to the sensor ball, the plane features onboard broadband internet, enabling real-time data sharing with the Colorado Wildfire Information Management System (CO-WIMS). The plane typically operates around 20,000 feet and has a loiter time of over five hours.
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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.
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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We saw what we believed to be drones in Denver. I tried to zoom in and take photos, but this was the best I could get. There were approximately six and were moving too slow, not like a private jet or small aircraft. I've read some of the posts how nighttime can trick your vision, but these did not seem to be aircraft at all because we see several aircraft in our area and these were nothing like we have seen before. Please comment.


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There were approximately six and were moving too slow, not like a private jet or small aircraft. I've read some of the posts how nighttime can trick your vision, but these did not seem to be aircraft at all because we see several aircraft in our area and these were nothing like we have seen before. Please comment.

This looks like the navigation lights and landing lights of a small aircraft. They can seem to move really slow why they are flying towards you. This photo appears to be taken just before the plane flew overhead to the left.

Here's a small plane viewed from above - the arrangement of the front landing lights varies (there can be 1, 2, or 3)
They definitely look like planes or helis. There are several things that point to mass hysteria here. That's simply not how drones work or behave in flight. Not sure how they got the 6ft wingspan either.

That being said, one can modify airfoil drones to achieve insane autonomy and range. But even so, if you switch-off the LEDs and you fly at night at a few hundred feet, you're basically invisble to the people on the ground. Having lights means they either wanted to be seen, or they're something else entirely.
Even if they use the 4G LTE mod which makes it use mobile internet, so it doesn't show up on normal fpv drone frequencies, there would still be a guy with a van picking them up somewhere then launching them again. I would assume in a relatively rural setting, they would be easily spotted.


The "hovering" illusion is a classic in ufology. Aircraft that are moving along your line of sight,( rather than across your line of sight), seem to "hover." Not much is changing. The only thing that happens is that the apparent size gets bigger or smaller.

Sit at the end of an airport runway for awhile and watch the planes come in for a landing. Even jets "hover" for a long time as they come at you.

Even these sped up planes hover. Notice the difference between when they move across the line of sight and along the line of sight of the camera.

I've been just as guilty as anyone. Time to start using proper terminology.

A UFO flap is an example of mass delusion, (or collective delusion).

A group of people who believe they are all sick with some phantom disease or are being poisoned is an example of mass hysteria. More properly, mass psychogenic illness.
Yup, that's probably plane hover in the videos Living around 80k south of two big airports (Nantes and St Nazaire), there are often "sightings" which are mostly inbound planes There's one guy living not that far from me who made the news calling himself a professional ufo hunter He goes out most nights and films what are mostly inbound flights and sometimes the ISS :D:D
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao doesn't know what they are.
"We don't know who they belong to, we don't know who's operating them, to this day we do not," Chao told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer
"We're very lucky nothing happened, so the local law enforcements have stepped down," she explained. "So we're not actively investigating that, because the local law enforcement stood down."

The news of the investigations into the drones comes as Chao and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) push for a new rule that would allow for the remote identification of drones in flight. The FAA currently requires owners of both commercial and consumer-grade drones that weigh between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds register them with the agency.
Once registered, a drone owner receives a registration number for their device that they must then write on or stick to their drone. That's certainly helpful in instances where drones collide with structures, are taken down when flying in unrestricted areas, or crash into other aircraft. But since you have to physically see the drones up close to read their registration numbers, it does nothing for those that are still aloft.
The proposed rule, according to Chao, would require that all drones over 0.55 pounds have some form of remote identification system. The ID system would enable any third party to get information on virtually any drone in the sky.
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