Spotted from my back yard, virtually overhead, and slightly to the west of my location.
Daylight (near noon)
CAVU, haze and high cirrus to north and south
Time in sight: about 2 minutes
Other witnesses: unknown
Size of objects: Tiny, undifferentiated bright white dots at an unknown distance. The size of a bright star.
I hold a private pilot license.
Chevron of white lights, about 7, traveling from north to south over Reno. The chevron comprised six lights (1 center, 2 right wing, 3 left wing, the seventh trailing several lengths behind). The lights were uniformly white and of equal brightness.
This was not a single object. I could see blue sky between the dots. There seemed to be no connecting structure — and from the way the individual lights moved, I don’t think that there could have been one.
The trailing light closed. The chevron morphed into a diagonal line behind the leading light to the right. Lights continued moving around and the formation kept changing. There was always a formation — not a random set of lights — but the formation continued to change.
As the lights were overhead, I thought I could perceive two red-black panels, one to either side of three or four of the white lights. No blinking. No visible empennage. No sound (air conditioner was nearby, but I did hear a passenger jet pass over at contrail altitude shortly thereafter).
No contrails. Either the objects were below or above contrail altitude, or they weren’t generating contrails.
The objects maintained a steady speed from north to south, eventually vanishing in the southern haze as I took my eyes from them for a moment and could not reacquire.
Altitude: Unknown (no way to judge) They could have been small objects at a low altitude, or large objects higher. I did get the impression of high altitude, however. During the time I watched, they did not pass any clouds or contrails for me to see whether they were above or below. A commercial jet passed over, generating contrails, after they disappeared, and I did not have any difficulty discerning that it was a commercial jet (I could even see the tail — the empennage).
I am located about three miles south of the Reno-Tahoe Airport, which has a tower control zone of about 5 miles in diameter, and rising to (IIRC) 12,000 MSL. These objects would have been in the control zone, or in the positive-controlled airspace above it. Somebody must have radar information about this.
Google is said to have a large weather balloon orbiting Nevada, testing wifi signals. This was not a single object and not a weather balloon. The local TV station KTVN has a permanent weather camera trained on the sky. I have a call in to the station to see whether footage of 5/25 @ 11:45 am exists.
This being Memorial Day weekend, my first thought was a military formation, but the lights jinked around too much and got in front of each other as they changed position. Also, they would have been in positive-controlled airspace, and that kind of maneuver would have been discouraged. The next thought was geese (which fly in formation), but there was no change in the brightness of the objects, and no sense of “flapping.” Third thought was a formation of ultralights, but they’re illegal over populated areas and — again — would have been in controlled airspace, another illegality. Since there were seven and moved steadily from north to south, it’s unlikely to have been the planet Venus. They did not drop, so were not flares. They changed and formed new formations, so were not balloons.