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Attack of the Drones: Mysterious UAVs in Our Skies

The emergence of new drone technologies have captured the public’s imagination, as well as sparked controversy, especially since the arrival of the US Navy’s show-stealing X-47B drone. With its triangular shape, non-existent tail, and sleek, almost saucerian look, the aircraft succeeds in resembling classic descriptions of flying saucers dating all the way back to the 1940s.

As a journalist, one never wants to spend too much time discussing his or her own experiences, opting instead to present a fair, unbiased perspective on such subjects. However, my purpose here is hardly to dissect the controversies surrounding drone use in military operations, border patrol operations, or even surveillance in urban areas. Rather, my reason for addressing the drones on a personal note has to do with my own recent observation of some variety of small, controlled aircraft for which, at present, remains unidentified… and quite perplexing.

My unusual sighting of what I take to be some variety of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) began with the appearance of a curiously bright light moving along over Interstate 26, just outside Asheville, North Carolina, as I was heading home for the evening; I had been traveling north at about 10:22 PM on the evening of July 23, 2012, headed for the junction with Interstate 40 about a mile away. This white-orange light appeared to simply be hanging in the sky, unmoving, and though I suspected the landing lights of some commercial kind of aircraft, the object in question did not seem to move as my position changed relative to it.

Following my previously stated course, heading northbound along I-26 toward the I-40 junction, I came up alongside the object, which was partially obscured by trees at the time. At this point, I had begun to think what I must be seeing was a helicopter, as it appeared to be hovering in midair, or otherwise moving in some way inconsistent with a commercial airliner. The bright light had apparently been oriented toward the front of the craft, and on the sides I could now see a small flashing white light (making it seem like some kind of conventional craft, yet again), in addition to bluish green and red lights.

The blue lights were uncharacteristic, however, and caught my attention since this color typically does not appear on commercial aircraft of any kind (for more on this, click here for a discussion of various beacons used on airplanes for different purposes and applications). This would not be the case, however, for a hobby craft or remote-controlled stunt plane… but then again, this “plane” appeared to be hovering at the moment, hence my mind began to drift along toward the potential for a helicopter.

At this point I pulled off to the side of the road, and jumped out of my car right there on the connecting ramp between I-26 and I-40, hoping to get a better look at the craft. The object began to drift along slowly toward the south; curiously, the lighting on the craft did seem to betray a generally airplane-like shape, looking nothing like a helicopter. Furthermore, the object, which had been almost at a standstill there in the sky, had appeared to be moving silently, and as stated, quite slowly (there were few cars near me on the interstate, and I could hear no sounds that seemed to come from this object that reminded me of helicopter blades). Finally, it is also worth noting that the object appeared much smaller than the average airplane, and at a relatively low altitude (just a few hundred feet). My guess would have been that the object was roughly the size of a large automobile.

It was a very odd combination of something very conventional-looking, and yet which behaved very counter-intuitively just as well. At present, while I am leaning heavily toward this object being some kind of UAV drone, perhaps serving some military or other surveillance purposes, what’s interesting is that, in years past, I know of two other individuals who have described seeing a similar object, albeit one described as being more triangular in shape, and at the same precise location!

Sure enough, a friend of mine, Tyler Pittman, described an experience where he had seen a triangular object at the precise same spot, heading North, which at it’s closest was directly above him. He too pulled off the side of the road hoping to photograph the thing, which was about the size of a large automobile, he said; but it managed to get away before he could get to the camera on his phone. Finally, at roughly the same spot, my own brother Caleb, who had a friend in the car with him at the time, also described seeing this triangular shape in the sky a few years back, near the junction between I-26 and I-40.

It is interesting indeed that my own brother had this experience a while ago, and that all our recollections of the craft seem to correlate in terms of descriptions, for the most part. But here’s where things get even more interesting: the night after my own encounter, Caleb and a friend had been attending an outdoor showing of the original “Ghostbusters” film at an area theater, when the two of them spotted an object overhead which was, according to Caleb, obviously the same craft I’d seen. He sent me the following at 10:01 PM on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, via SMS text messages:

I’m watching ghost busters outside at (Biltmore Cinnebar Theatres) and that triangular drone you saw last night is flying around overhead. Both Dakota and I saw it. It has a very wide range, flashing lights but definitely triangular. I don’t think it’s privately owned because I don’t think they’d allow it in the air, I’m going to go with that it is a drone.

He followed with this as well:

Got a great look at it… Dakota (a mutual friend, and my brother’s roommate) and I have some decent theories of what it might be but I really have no doubt at all that it is some kind of drone. I didn’t see it hover but it was moving pretty slowly for the altitude it was at.

Like my own sighting the night before, Caleb also noted the blue lights, in addition to the triangular shape:

I saw blue, red, orange and white lights; definitely triangular. I saw it coming from pretty far away over the car dealership (Jim Barkley Toyota, on Brevard Road adjacent to the shopping mall where they were located at the time) then it flew over and headed towards the airport but circled around and flew over us again at what seemed like a different angle… maybe sideways. The lights had a pattern to them but they seemed to strobe in a slightly different manor than an airplane.

This description certainly matches my own feeling about the craft I’d seen; certain aspects reminded me very much of an airplane, while others (namely its apparent ability to hover and drift along slowly) are very unconventional. Next, I plan to touch base with local law enforcement, and see if anyone else has information on what the object may have been. Do any Mysterious Universe readers recall seeing similar objects themselves, and if so, what are your conclusions about the aircraft you had seen?

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  • Wouldn’t a drone need rotors to hover, and wouldn’t the rotors cause a lot of discernible noise?

  • Ryan

    LOL! They have Technology/Anti-Gravity/Ion/Pulse, and much more devious
    that they have withheld from the dumbed-down public for many
    Years……Those So-Called Flying Saucers people see? Man-Made TR-3B’s:
    ………Google it.

  • Kandinsky

    I remember Tyler’s account of his sighting during one of last year’s Gralien Report podcasts. It was a believable and enjoyable account.

    Military drones are still noisy craft and we have to keep in mind what the stall-speed is before we say they are one thing or another. For example, unless we have an exotic technology, a triangular drone can’t hover – it’d need to be moving at a certain speed or it’d fall from the sky.

    I’ll take these reports at face-value but they present a few problems and raise questions. A quick look at the news has Hyde, North Carolina as an area where testing of UAVs has taken place so who knows?

  • OK but then we’re talking about 2 different things, Ryan.

    I recognize as a ‘drone’ the different types of UAVs we’ve been observing deployed in several war & surveillance scenarios in the US and abroad. All pretty impressive BUT conventional.

    You on the other hand seem eager to include them with all the compelling yet UNCONFIRMED tales of so-called man-made UFOs. In which case, should we conclude then Micah was the witness of one of the infamous CARET drones(*), and we all owe Linda Howe an apology?

    (*) For the record, I believe the CARET drones were a hoax.

  • Well said 🙂

  • Considering these craft must have been tested for some years before they were made public, we would have known of crashes in heavily populated areas by now.

    Between a brainless programmed drone and a drunk or inexperienced human pilot, I think I’d rather have the former.

  • Micah Hanks

    Hi folks,

    Micah here… I appreciate all the comments on this article, and I wanted to share just a few updates with you:

    1) My brother Caleb and I, along with our associate Daniel Dakota Waddell, returned to the general area where we saw the craft, noting the direction of incoming flights by commercial aircraft toward the Asheville Regional Airport. Always the skeptic, I have done a decent job convincing myself that there is at least some possibility that the object I witnessed could have been a commercial airliner, banking at the right angle and altitude as I came along beside it, so as to give the impression that the craft had been hovering. I try to be careful when approaching the realm of Occam’s Razor, however, in that I don’t want my explanation to become more whimsical and impossible than the object I believe I managed to see. Nonetheless, the craft I witnessed had been approaching at 10:22 PM; records from the Airport indicate a Southbound incoming flight that landed at 10:23.

    2) This does not explain the triangle shaped object my associates managed to see the following evening; if it were some craft being suspended by propellers rather than jet engines, etc, it is possible that they did not hear the mechanical sounds the craft made due to the loud sound of the speakers nearby (they were attending an outdoor film showing at the time they witnessed a what they described as a small “triangle” fly slowly overhead).

    3) Tyler Pittman’s encounter was the most impressive of all, and to borrow his own words, after seeing the object hovering directly over his vehicle near the same vicinity many years ago, he told me it was “not the work of an amateur.” He also described wing-like appendages that extended out at an angle in the same direction toward the front of the craft; similar to swept-wing designs, but in reverse (would we call these “reverse swept wings?).

    4) Others in the area described hearing helicopters flying nearby much later in the evening, sometime between 2:30 AM and 4:00 AM. This may be inconsequential, but is perhaps worth noting, at very least.

    Finally, a talk show host and friend of mine in the Asheville area has said he hears many drones are in operation in this area (and virtually everywhere else) at present. If anything, we might as well expect that they will become a regular part of our way of life in the coming years… and that much more advanced models will continue to appear, as well.

  • Clarence Carlson

    I thought I’d leave a comment here.
    The idea that a “drone” was seen is, in my mind doubtful. Meaning I think the probability is very low. I did a tour as a Navy flight surgeon in the early 80s. The concern about crashed experimental flight was palpable at all levels. Once when an Army experimental helicopter went down out in the desert we were called for some minimal support but the Army flight surgeon sent to the site to be a member of the investigative team (an acquaintance of mine) was flown all the way from the east coast. This in spite of the fact that there were a number of Army flight surgeons at various nearby locations. He was, appropriately, tight lipped about his mission. But, because the work was considered classified, the Army kept the thing not just in the family, but in a special team. And, this was a helicopter that you go look up in Janes at the time.

    My point being, operation of such a drone would be a very classified, very special project. The guys who run these things, military and commercial interests, fear disclosure of the technology. Operating such incredible machinery over unrestricted civilian airspace (near an airport no less), at very low altitudes would be unthinkable.

    And theres the issue of it’s hovering ability. I’m not aeronautic engineer but even considering there were rotors on the top of thing, directional control would requires additional flight input, think “tail rotor”. It’s description, which I don’t doubt is accurate, defies the usual application of known technology and would be a closely guarded secret. Over a movie theatre???

  • WriterSP

    Here’s the problem with all recent UFO sightings–and this has been plaguing the issue for the past decade: with the sudden explosion of unmanned drones and experimental government aircraft (not to mention the sophistication of digital editing software), it has become more and more difficult to verify the credibility of genuine UFO (i.e., other-worldly) sightings. I’m not doubting the credibility of the person observing the phenomenon, I’m just saying that it’s no longer a case of “a picture is worth a thousand words”. I truly regret this newfound “interference” with efforts to unveil genuine UFO appearances. It’s just that, as we’ve become more digitally and technologically advanced, it becomes harder and harder to present real, unequivocable “hard” evidence that can’t be explained by sophisticated technology or digital manipulation. Used to be, it was what it was–now, who know what the heck it could have been.

  • xicota

    Very interesting article, Micah. Forgive me if I missed some information, but is the consensus that there was no noticeable noise coming from this craft? Is it possible that the craft could have been higher than perceived (perhaps larger)? Is there no possibility that this could have been some type of RCV? I am not questioning the experience, just trying to get a mental image. A drone—why not? I wouldn’t doubt that private industry, as well as the military, could be operating these.

    I recall watching an episode of UFO Hunters some time ago, wherein a big deal was made out of a possible repeat “UFO” sighting in Corona, CA (which is about 15 miles south of my home). It turned out that, after investigation (much to UFOH disappointment), the sighting was attributed to a RCV that was being flown just far away from the witness that any sound from it was not noticeable. Just thinking out loud.

  • Seth McAvoy

    How is drones in our skies a mystery? It’s just one step closer to the police state.

  • Guest

    Hey i’ve seen these

  • SDL

    I live in NY and I’ve seen quite a few of these recently. They do hover and they can get pretty close but every time I seem to notice it, it moves and flies off. They have strange non patterned flickering lights in the colors you described. They also turn off one of the lights when “spotted” so it looks like a normal aircraft with two wing lights.
    I thought they were UFOs but somehow I knew they were drones instead. Except I don’t see that middle blue light like in that photo.
    First time I saw one, I riding a cab. It was hovering and the lights were really strange, not of a typical craft. I excitedly punched my boyfriend to get his attention and when we both turned back to the craft, it turned off one of the three lights and flew off.

  • Whatever it is, I saw one just a couple weeks ago. It was in fact hovering very low over the highway and was incredibly bright. Perhaps it was counting on the cloud cover to hide it but I don’t know. If you have ever stood below a circular skylight, that is what it looked like to me. Very dark storm clouds with some rain, and then three circles of bright light in a triangle formation. I did not get out of my car and there was traffic so I do not know if it was making noise. And yes, this was just outside a military base.

  • Wally

    UAV’s are unmistakable. You will know when you see one because of the irregular light pattern. Also, at altitudes as low as you see these irregular, moving lights, you would most definitely hear noise as you normally do when planes fly that low. These are inaudible unless they are landing most likely. You will also catch 3-4 in the sky at the same time if you have a good view of the night sky. When you see these 3 or 4 come together and “huddle”, then you will know FOR SURE you are not seeing airplanes. At least I for one have never seen any airplanes come that close to one another on purpose.

  • Miranda

    I saw one of these in SE Ohio over a national forest….no military base here

  • Francois Basilio

    there are plenty of those quad copters that are very silent for there size and can hover and speed away quite quickly, they can almost stop on a dime. I know because I own a couple of them the models i have you can program the lights (red, blue , orange, green,) to flash in any sequence you want. Also you can program its flight path and let it run on its own it can go 350 mtrs high ! and they land right where it started or where ever you want. it have been one of those at 300mtrs it does look like its far away and huge especially during night flights… just thinking of other possibilities…

  • Henry Belk

    I saw (first heard a sound like “swoosh”, very quiet like”) over head in Las Vegas last night at 10:20 pm. When I looked up I saw a bright blue light, no other lights present, flying just above the treetops. The “craft” flew west to east going toward MCCaren Airport, and the strip. No shape to the craft, just one very bright blue light, and no sound what so ever.