The FAA Is Now Investigating Colorado’s Mysterious Drones — And Sen. Cory Gardner Has Weighed In, Too

December 31, 2019
Air Force Test Center focuses on UAS technologyAir Force Test Center focuses on UAS technologyU.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Simones
Three unmanned aerial systems soar in the sky, Aug. 21, 2019 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

A handful of eastern Colorado counties still have no answers about the drones flying overhead at night lately. And now U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has weighed in.

“I’ve been in contact with the FAA and I’m encouraged that they’ve opened a full investigation to learn the source and purpose of the drones,” Gardner said in a statement. “I will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Gardner is from Yuma, one of the five counties that have reported the groups of drones. He is also a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation and Space.

Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott told CPR News last week that there have been sightings of about 17 drones with 6-foot wingspans flying in a grid pattern after 7 p.m.

“All we want to know is who they are and why are they doing it,” he said. “People don't like the possibility of the drones invading their privacy.”

Lincoln, Washington and Sedgwick counties have also had similar sightings. Officials say they do not believe the groups of drones are related to any criminal activity.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the activity Sunday night when one of its deputies saw a cluster of drones north of I-70.

The department is collaborating with the Federal Aviation Administration and the other counties, Lincoln County Sherrif's Capt. Michael Yowell said.

“At this point, any new information that we get we’re giving that to each other,” he said. “We cannot get close enough to take a photograph or get any video, all we can see is flashing lights.”

Drone flights are legal as long as they follow FAA rules. On Dec. 26, the FAA announced a proposal that would require drones to be tracked and identified using a Remote Identification system.