MYSTERY WIRE — At least 17 drones flying at night in a grid pattern over rural northeastern Colorado have created a stir.
The Denver Post reports that Phillips County officials have seen the drones, but the county sheriff has no idea who is flying them between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
“We just want to know if one lands, if we can get our hands on it, or if they see someone operating them, that’s what we’re looking for now,” Sheriff Thomas Elliot told the Post. “We know they exist.”
Elliott said the drones have about a six-foot wingspan, and they have distinctive flashing lights. But so far, they have not caused any problems, and they don’t appear to be breaking any laws. They are flying 200 to 300 feet off the ground, Elliott told the Post. They have also been seen hovering in place for extended periods.
The drones have also been spotted in neighboring Yuma County. An NBC report on Friday indicated that the drones have also been seen in Lincoln and Washington counties.
A Friday update from The Denver Post showed that officials were taking calls in more counties, and there were some reports coming out of Nebraska as well. One sheriff said conspiracy theories are running rampant.
A report on The War Zone speculates that the drones could be part of “a broad-area surveillance” test using lower-end drones, noting the value of the capability for search-and-rescue operations.
The information reported by the post also appeared on the popular website Gizmodo.com: “So far, the DEA, the FAA, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Army Forces Command have all said they’re every bit as clueless as local officials about what these drones are doing and why.”
A statement on the Phillips County Facebook page reads:
We are aware of and have been investigating the multiple reports of drone sightings in the county over the last week. Deputies were out all night this evening along with Yuma County SO tracking these drones. Tonight we tracked over 16 drones between the two counties. We believe that the drones, though startling, are not malicious in nature. The Sheriff’s Office is following up on leads and communications with state and federal agencies to pinpoint the exact nature to their activities. As more information comes available, we will keep you informed. If any of these drones fly onto your property or are looking into windows, please call the communications center immediately so a deputy can respond to your location. If you happen to come into possession of one of these drones, please contact the Sheriff’s Office so we can conduct a forensic evaluation of the drone to identify the owners and take the appropriate actions.