SIDNEY, NE – Since mid-December several sightings of drones flying around western Nebraska and northeast Colorado have been reported. No one knows where they’re taking off from, who’s flying them or what they’re doing.
Local law enforcement hasn’t been able to track the source and now the FAA is investigating.
On Friday, News Channel Nebraska spoke to Paul Pitsky. He is the vice president of US Federal Operations for Dedrone – A company that specializes in drone detection and airspace security. He says the situation is unusual.
“It certainly seems odd in general,” Pitsky said. “As a Part 107 pilot, you’re not supposed to be flying at night. So you’re already taking the first step into some activity that’s maybe not authorized at this time. That would already sound some sort of alarm bell to me that somebody’s doing something they’re not supposed to be doing.”
Part 107 refers to the FAA’s rule of piloting a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS).
Dedrone does have a partnership with Francis E. Warren Air Force Base just outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming to test some of this technology. According to their website, the military installation is home to the 90th Missile Wing and oversees the country’s ICBM’s in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. Pitsky says the drones are not theirs.
“I can tell you from Dedrone’s perspective, we are not involved in the situation,” Pitsky said.
The U.S. Air Force has also previously denied involvement with the drones.
The FAA also recently proposed a new rule that, if enacted, would make drones remotely identifiable. Pitsky says that rule is a step in the right direction to preventing incidents like this.
“I think it’s a really great first step to have remote ID,” Pitsky said. “The first thing in a threat assessment or understanding what a threat level is understanding what’s good. What’s the known quantities and what’s good out there. That’s a good thing to be able to self identify as a friend.”
Pitsky also notes, however, that even if the new rule would be enacted there is usually someone out there trying to circumvent the rules.
The sightings have garnered national attention and have elicited responses from Nebraska senator Deb Fischer and Colorado senator Cory Gardner.
“My staff and I are aware of the recent drone sightings. We have been in touch with the FAA, and are monitoring the situation closely. I encourage Nebraskans to notify their local law enforcement office of any additional sightings,” Fischer said in a statement.
For now though, many questions as to the appearance of these drones remain unanswered.
Watch the video above to see video viewers sent to NCN.