We do, in fact, know for certain that misidentification of ordinary lights in the sky explains at least part of this incident. One of the most frenzied drone reports came from the USS Russell
on July 15. At least 8 drones were reported WSW of their position between 9pm and 10pm. Writing on the Metabunk website
, researcher Mick West found the ship's reported location was directly under the Pacific approach to southern California airports, and inputting that time and location into the Flight Aware website, he found a line of incoming airliners heading directly toward and overflying the ship. From Russell
's perspective, they would have appeared as stationary, hovering lights. West even referenced a similar case of misidentification from Colorado in 2020, when a sheriff mistook an oncoming 737 at 23,000 feet for a drone hovering at 500 feet. Again, recall that no amount of observation training can circumvent geometry. No observer, trained or otherwise, can reliably determine the distance of a single point of light in the sky.
And that, unsatisfyingly, is where we have to leave our investigation of this event. The only part of it that we can
identify with the data in hand has
been identified as commercial air traffic, and all the rest of the data lacks sufficient details to rule out any more of the same. We cannot make any claim that all the sailors saw were aircraft and other normal lights, and we also can't make any claim that such lights are inconsistent with the rest of the recorded sightings. And so, with apologies to those who insist that the USS Kidd
incident must be either proof of our military's failure to defend itself, or proof of alien visitation, I'm going to set this one down in the column of UFO reports that offer insufficient evidence to warrant further investigation. If the Navy surprises us with more data, nobody will be more pleased than myself to re-open the case.