I am going to offer my theory based on interviews with witnesses and our experiences last night.
While I maintain that a huge number of sightings are misidentifications and there certainly some false reports to stir the pot, we decided to investigate last night because there were enough that we couldn’t easily explain.
You can check to see if what you are seeing is a known object or not very easily. First off, you can check if it is a manned aircraft by going to https://www.flightradar24.com/ - There are also apps for Android and IOS.
You can also check for visible space objects such as the Starlink Satellites and the International Space Station. On a good night, over 50 objects are visible with the naked eye. You can get a chart based on your area by going here: https://heavens-above.com/
Our team was made up of several aviation experts, UAV experts, and public safety experts.
My conclusions is that there are likely two different systems being flown around the plains, a multi-rotor system, and a fixed-wing system.
This is a tough question, but the conclusion is that they are more likely being flown by a private company based on the very non-discreet lighting that is present and the areas they are being flown in. If it was military, there are are plenty of places they could be without being seen.
While we cannot answer this definitively, if we assume that our previous conclusion is correct, then the most likely answer is that they are doing testing of some new products. If this is correct, they are flying in the dark to prevent photos of them being taken before their product is announced.
In short, no. There is no way to be completely certain that my conclusion is correct, I don’t have enough data, at best I can say I am “fairly” certain.
I am going to go with “no”. Based on different reports, we do not believe there is anything malicious. Are they annoying? Certainly.
Not that we can tell. We have no evidence to support that they are flying above 400’ AGL, they seem to have the proper lighting required for night flights, and a waiver to fly at night is very easy to obtain, in fact, we recommend this waiver to new pilots and often have a class on how to submit your application.
Vice President - Multicopter Warehouse