Drone sightings on the decline, questions still remain

The fleet of drones that has been appearing over Nebraska and Colorado may be disappearing.

And, while drone sightings in Chase County have backed off some, origins of the night-flying drones still remain unknown.

Chase County Sheriff Kevin Mueller said the number of reported sightings has slowed down, with no calls over the weekend.

The last sighting was reported Jan. 7, Mueller said.

The investigation of the mysterious sightings is continuing, but is mostly being done by federal agencies — the FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Homeland Security — who will release few details about it.

Ian McGregor, a spokesman for the FAA, said via email that a multi-jurisdictional working group formed to probe the mystery is not planning on providing updates on the investigation.

So far, McGregor said, that working group has “contacted drone test sites, drone companies, and companies that have received authorization to operate drones in these areas. To date, we have not been able to determine that any of these operators were the source of the reported drone flights.

“We have contacted General Aviation (GA) airports in the affected counties to ensure they are aware of the sightings; to ask the pilots using their airports to be cautious and to report sightings; and to report any people they see operating drones on the ground.

“We are in contact with federal law enforcement and national security partners to discuss potential ways they can assist in identifying who may be operating these aircraft.”

FBI spokeswoman Amy Meyer referred questions to the FAA, and Homeland Security did not respond to an email.

“There is a legitimate mystery here,” said Matt Waite of the University of Nebraska’s Drone Journalism Lab.

“Multiple people in multiple places have reported seeing multiple large drones — estimated at six-foot wingspans — flying in formation in a grid pattern after dark.”

“This is not typical, and the operators are not known,” Waite said.

However, not every light you see in the sky is a drone.

The common solution remains to report all possible sightings to local law enforcement.


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