FORT MORGAN, Colo. — A group of Colorado pilots and industry experts have set up camp in northeastern Colorado, searching for answers in a story now making national headlines.
Groups of drones, reportedly flying in coordinated grid patterns at night, have gripped small communities on the eastern Plains.
“There’s a lot of people talking about it,” said Chris Swathwood. “People are very concerned.”
Swathwood is a trained pilot and drone operator who is now setting up a command post outside of Brush.
The group of eight is equipped with special Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast technology, which allows them to see in real time whether objects in the sky are planes, satellites or drones.
There is growing concern in the aviation community about the secrecy involving these drones and about threats online to shoot them down.
“My big fear is that somebody is going to shoot at one of these things, and it’s not going to be a UAS or a drone, it’s going to be a manned aircraft,” said Swathwood.
Speculation is also building in the aviation community about what the objects could be. The Air Force and multiple energy companies in the area have all denied involvement.
“I do think the secrecy some of this has created has become a problem,” said Chuck Adams, who owns 1Up Aerial Drone Services, which performs mapping along the Front Range.
“It could be companies or the military testing different things, or different technology, that they want to do in secrecy, and not have people find out,” he said.
So far, only cellphone videos taken by civilians have shown the drones in action.
Industry experts are hoping higher-quality images will at least paint a picture of what the drones look like. From there, tracking their origin will be easier.
“Goal number one is to find out what is flying,” said Swathwood.
“It will all come out in the wash in the next few weeks,” said Adams.