Emerging Tech

Colorado cops puzzled by fleets of large drones flying overhead

Fleets of large drones have been spotted hovering over rural parts of Colorado in recent days, and no one appears to know why.

Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott told the Denver Post earlier this week that the drones, said to be around six feet wide, have been seen flying on a nightly basis for several days over Phillips and Yuma counties, about 125 miles east of Denver.

Elliott told the Post that the drones appear in a group of up to 17 machines and fly at an altitude of around 250 feet. “They’ve been doing a grid search, a grid pattern,” Elliott said. “They fly one square and then they fly another square.”

Meanwhile, Undersheriff William Myers said he recently saw eight of the drones flying together along the Yuma County border at a speed of around 35 mph.

He said he couldn’t hear the aircraft because they were flying so high, but added that they were clearly marked out by their multi-colored lights. Close Encounters, anyone?

Elliott said that while they have not yet worked out where the drones are coming from and what they’re doing, “they do not seem to be malicious” and “don’t appear to be doing anything that would indicate criminal activity.”

The Post has been calling around to see if anyone knows the purpose of the drone flights, but its inquiries have so far led it nowhere. The Federal Aviation Administration, for example, said it knows nothing about the drone fleet, while the U.S. Army Forces Command delivered much the same response.

Elliott said his office has so far received nine calls about the drones, but added that folks only need to get in touch if they find one of the machines on the ground, or if they see people piloting them.

It’s a weird situation, for sure, and theories abound. Denver Post readers certainly aren’t short of theories, some more extraordinary than others. One person suggested ranchers might be using them to track their cattle, another said they could be sniffing for oil and gas leaks, while someone else suggested they might actually be B-1 bombers on practice missions. Aliens, of course, have also been mentioned.

Some have suggested shooting down one of the drones to give the authorities a better chance of solving the puzzle, but with the drones flying over rural areas and apparently not causing any trouble, the Colorado cops are reluctant to take such action.

Certainly, if the FAA’s proposed nationwide tracking system for drones were already in place, the mystery would surely be solved in the blink of an eye.

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