Are Drones Being Mistaken for UFO’s?

In 1977, the Voyager Golden Records were launched into space as a time capsule of messages from Earth. With the guidance of Carl Sagan, the records were created to be a welcome message in the event of interception by an extraterrestrial intelligent life form. Then, in 1984, Carl Sagan founded the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute to explore the outer reaches of the universe for life forms. Though SETI continues its founder’s research, unequivocal proof of sentient extraterrestrials has yet to be proven.

But many believe that the odds of there being intelligent life forms out there are just too great. Each year there are thousands of reported UFO sightings around the world. As technology has advanced, these reports have increased. The reason being, drones. While drones are becoming everyday tools throughout much of the world, they are still novel sights to many people, especially after dark. When these drones are spotted in the nighttime sky, many assume they are UFOs from out of this world.

In December of 2019, communities in the rural Colorado region were on high alert as a series of UFOs were spotted flying in formation over several nights. At first, people did think they were extraterrestrial vehicles. Police soon were able to confirm that the UFOs were drones. However, authorities were never able to identify where the drones were coming from and who was responsible for the flights. After that incident, people became somewhat less suspicious of nighttime flying objects, understanding the probability of them being drones made here on Earth.

And while people, for the most part, can rationally explain unusual lights in the night sky as drones, it hasn’t stopped some from initially thinking the objects may be alien. On the evening of Monday, October 14, 2021, just such an incident occurred in Paterson, New Jersey. Residents of Paterson, New Jersey’s third most populous city and the fourth most densely populated city in the country, were shocked and confused when they saw a swarm of circular lights soaring above the city heading towards, and then disappearing, by Garret Mountain nearby. Louis Stevens quickly took out his phone to take a recording of the sight. He then submitted his video to PIX 11, a news station based out of Manhattan.

Upon receiving the video, PIX 11 sent it to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for questioning. The FAA told the news outlet that after checking with local air traffic controllers, no unusual flights had been reported. The FAA could not confirm the objects as drones but said that people should alert the National UFO Reporting Center in such events. Mr. Stevens said that he and his neighbors witnessed the phenomenon for about 5 minutes before they simply vanished. “You see it on YouTube and it’s always somewhere out in the Nevada desert somewhere,” he told reporters from PIX 11, never expecting to see a UFO over Paterson.

PIX 11 went on to contact drone expert Victor Chu. In 2014 Mr. Chu founded Sky Tech One, an aerial videography company that has become one of the most recognized drone film firms in the New York area. Mr. Chu explained to PIX 11 that in all likelihood, the event over Paterson was someone practicing for a drone light show. He went on to explain that in drone light shows, events that have become tremendously popular over the last year, the drones are all controlled by a computer program. The program commands the drones to fly in a synched pattern that creates various aerial graphics. “If you look at the video,” Mr. Chu said, “you will see that they are maintaining a formation for the most part, even though it’s kind of scrambled a little bit.” In reality, the lights over Paterson were probably drones. But, one day, those lights just may be representatives from life forms the SETI Institute has spent decades searching for.

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