Several of large, non-government drones have been flying in what the Denver Post describes as a ‘nighttime search pattern’ over northeast Colorado.
With estimated wingspans of six-feet, the aircraft have been covering 25-square-mile plots of Phillips and Yuma counties every night between 7 – 10 p.m. for around a week, Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott said Monday, adding that they have received nine calls about the drones since last week.
“They’ve been doing a grid search, a grid pattern,” he said “They fly one square and then they fly another square.
Nobody knows who’s flying them
Several agencies, including the sheriff’s office, the Army, the Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), say they have no knowledge of the mysterious aircraft or who is operating them, however Undersheriff William Meyers suggested that “The estimated size and number of drones makes it unlikely that they’re being flown by hobbyists.”
Drone pilots aren’t required to submit flight plans unless planning to operate in controlled airspace, such as an airport.
UAV and Drone Solutions monitoring aircraft (via AOPA.org)
Meyers says he watched eight of the large drones flying along the Yuma County border, while a single drone was spotted simultaneously hovering around 25 miles away over the town of Paoli. According to the report “it didn’t move all night, just hovered over the town,” while eight more drones flew 10 miles away over the town of Haxtun, Meyers added.
“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.
Myers suspects the drones might be operated by a private company, although the machines haven’t targeted any obvious landmarks or features — sometimes they fly over towns,
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