Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s… a drone. – Chuck Zukowski UFO/Paranormal Investigations

Zukowski DJI Phantom 4 drone

One of my new favorite toys in my arsenal of UFO investigating tools is my DJI Phantom 4 drone. Recently acquired, I haven’t used this drone yet in an investigation, but have been getting familiar with its capabilities. My last drone which I crashed, was an older DJI Phantom 2. I was modifying its capabilities to shoot 4K video in a first person view environment (FPV), when I guess my newly added camera’s wifi interfered with my radio controller. As I watched it fly away into the sunset, I had some control left, so I shut the motors down. Watching it drop ever so quickly from the sky, I put my hand over my heart, and bid it one last farewell. Kerplunk, it hit the ground. Breaking the frame and bouncing my added camera like a role of dice across the grass field in the park; I decided it was time for an upgrade. My new drone which is so much more advanced, includes auto take-off, auto landing, camera and sonar avoidance system, and auto tracking capabilities, just to name a few. It also has the capabilities to fly First Person View over three miles away just using a monitor with DJI’s Go 4 app watching its every move, speed, distance, elevation, battery life and so on. Not trying to turn this blog into a commercial for DJI , but I quickly understood more of what UFO investigators are now up against.

My drone has red LED lights on the front and blinking green ones on the back which shows me not only the direction I’m flying, but the status of the drone too! The DJI Go 4 app tells me everything I need to know about health, performance and guidance, but the lights are a great back-up and if they start flashing from green to yellow, then I have an issue. Battery’s low, loss of GPS, or loss of connection with the controller, either way healthy or not, I basically have a blinking UFO in the sky.

A couple of years ago at night while my wife and I were eating chocolate dipped ice cream cones (yum) in a McDonald’s parking lot, off in the distance I saw some very unusual lights. It was about 9:00pm, a dark sky with hardly any clouds nearby. Off in the distance I saw blinking lights shoot up behind a housing track about a 200 feet into the night sky, then started making short erratic maneuvers from left to right. To the untrained eye this was a clear UFO sighting, but to me after some careful quick consideration, it was merely an advanced drone being flown at night.

How did I know? First, look at the location of the sighting, it’s near a housing track and not in the middle of the night in a cow pasture. Second, look at the movements of the flashing lights. Are the erratic movements close together or very far apart? This will not only distinguish the possible size of the craft, but speed as well. Third, every good investigator eliminates all plausible possibilities of what it can be, before judging what it might be, and that being extraterrestrial.

And if having to deal with drone blinking lights as a possible UFO wasn’t enough, now we have to deal with head lights too? A pretty cool addition to the DJI Phantom drone series is the Lume Cube. This is an aftermarket LED chargeable cube about 1.5 inches on each side that emits 1,500 lumens of light! That’s equivalent to a 100 watt light bulb and you can mount two of these suckers, one on each side of the drone’s landing gear! Now not only do you have a blinking light in the night sky, but now it could have bright headlights too! Geesh!

These added lights are obviously designed for low light or night drone flying, and it takes a very experienced drone pilot to be able to do this without crashing their drone. But unfortunately there are a few “yahoos” out there who like to be pranksters with their drones. They could add these lights and hover two to three hundred feet in the night sky causing all kinds of commotion. Since high tech drone technology has been more available to the public we’ve seen some pretty stupid things happen too! One drone crashed on the White House grounds causing a lock-down and a National Security alert, another goof mounted his stuffed cat to a drone and flew it around, (ok that was funny), yet another person mounted Roman Candle fireworks to his drone and started shooting the nearby trees, which could have started a fire. There’s also been some very disturbing things done too! An eighteen year old engineering student was able to mount a semi-automatic hand gun to his drone and fire it multiple times. So now we have high tech drone capability available to the general public with First Person View via a monitor up to three miles away, that can shoot a gun multiple times.

Lights in the sky don’t seem that terrifying now.

As of December 12th, 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all drone owners to register each drone that is purchased weighing between 0.55lbs to 55lbs. (Link below) People who meet that criteria and don’t register, will be subject to civil and criminal penalties defined in the U.S. Government drone regulation terms. Now this will take care of all the law abiding citizens, but just like gun control, it’s the non-law-abiding citizens we have to worry about, which now can include the mighty high flying Drone Trolls.

As the FAA tightens their grips with the ever expanding drone capabilities, UFO Investigators not only have to become more familiar with their capabilities too, but also the many aftermarket accessories being offered. Like the Lume Cube for night flying, there are night vision cameras available for the drones also. This means more opportunities for night flying not only in open areas, but in many State Parks too!

The National Park Service has banned drones due to noise and safety reasons which also includes National Monuments, National Battlefields, historic sites, and some coastlines, rivers and trails. But there is a FAA Commercial Drone Pilot certification which can allow some drone pilots to acquire special permits to fly in those areas. The one thing I like about my drone is the included firmware that restricts me from flying in a no fly zone area which includes elevation limits that could interfere with aircraft. DJI works closely with the FAA here in the US, but other countries restrictions will vary.

As drone technology becomes more advanced with the opportunities of product delivery from Amazon and UPS in the near future, our skies will become more crowded with blinking lights and fast moving objects. I’m guessing the only way we’ll know the difference between a drone and an UFO is, when one rams into the other. Until then, if you see quick short erratic lights moving in the moon light, it’s probably a drone. If you see lights shoot across the night sky, stop instantly without drifting, make sharp straight turns, then it’s something worth reporting. But it’s anyone’s guess when quad copter technology takes to the sky in large form with multi-rotor bikes and cars, then it will be a listening thing. Quad copter rotor blades make noise, UFOs don’t.

Federal Drone Registration Link

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Category: Chuck Zukowski, The Z-Files

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Author: Chuck Zukowski

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