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The Drones Fly at Night, in a Grid. No One Knows Why

FAA, Air Force, Amazon deny responsibility
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2019 10:15 AM CST
This Jan. 25, 2019, file photo shows a drone from the New York State Fire Agency.   (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

(Newser) – A proposed FAA rule that would require drones to broadcast a radio signal for tracking by law enforcement would surely clear up a mystery in Colorado. Since mid-December, residents in rural counties have seen drones, some with 6-foot wingspans, flying in a grid-like pattern at night in groups of six to 10, per the AP. The initial reports came from Phillips and Yuma counties, though more have since come from Lincoln, Washington, and Sedgwick counties, as well as from Nebraska's Deuel County. The FAA, NOAA, NORAD, DEA, US Air Force, US Army Forces Command, Google, Amazon, and Uber have all denied responsibility, per the AP and KUSA.

While authorities don't believe the drones are malicious—operators aren't required to file flight plans with the FAA unless flying in restricted airspace—"it is kind of scary because out where I live, there are many people who have private planes," one resident tells the Denver Channel. "You never know when one is going to take off, and if they're big drones, that could be a danger." The FAA's proposed rule, announced Thursday, seems timed to address the mystery, but it's actually been considered for more than a year, per the Denver Post. Open for public comment for 60 days, it's designed to better "integrate" drones into airspace, according to the FAA. (Read more drones stories.)

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