The FAA had no idea who was flying swarms of drones over Colorado and Nebraska around the New Year and still doesn’t according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request filed by a group that normally investigates UFO sightings. The Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies unearthed emails and documents from the FAA, including detailed briefing notes prepared for FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, that show the agency was as much in the dark about the well-documented drone sightings as everyone else seemed to be. The documents were reported by The Drive.
For about six weeks around the 2019/2020 holiday period, numerous witnesses, law enforcement personnel and bystanders reported seeing formations of drones flying what appeared to be grid patterns over northeastern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska. There was also an isolated sighting in Minnesota. The various reports were relatively consistent in describing the aircraft as being fixed-wing aircraft about six feet across and in some cases there was a larger drone that appeared to be leading a group of smaller aircraft. Whoever was flying them didn’t seem to care if anyone saw them as they frequently operated near highways and near towns. Numerous cellphone images and videos were supplied to FAA officials.
According to the briefing notes, FAA staff called everyone they could think of who might be flying the drones, including military, law enforcement, utility companies and drone researchers, and none of them said they knew anything about it. The sightings waned in January and there haven’t been any like them since. The briefing notes said that it would have been handy if those drones had been emitting discrete identification codes. “If they are UAS, this is an exemplar of why Remote Identification requirements, such as those put forward in the FAA’s recently released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, are critical to safety and security of UAS integration into the National Airspace System,” the briefing notes say.