CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Nighttime drone activity recorded in rural Saunders County

SAUNDERS COUNTY, Neb. (WOWT) -- Reports of mysterious drones have been in the news since late December, but on Tuesday night, 6 News experienced — and recorded — such an encounter first-hand on a rural road a few miles outside of Omaha.

Reports of mysterious drones have been in the news since late December, but on Tuesday night, Jan. 7, 2020, 6 News experienced — and recorded — such an encounter first-hand on a rural road a few miles outside of Omaha. (WOWT)

6 News was on the scene outside of Mead, Neb., (near County Road R, to be specific) when a 4- to 6-foot drone flew overhead. The drone flew so close to the ground, the sound of the propellers was caught on camera.

"There’s not much out here to look at, so it kind of makes you wonder, well, if they’re not looking at anything, what are they planning, you know? Or whoever or whatever is going on?" Saunders County Deputy Kyle Kennenbeck said. "It definitely raises curiosity."

6 News adjusted the brightness, contrast, and slowed down our video to confirm what we saw was in the shape of a plane, with lights attached to a single object.

Sightings of unclaimed drones flying in clusters and often in formation have been reported from Colorado to western Nebraska since December. On Monday, similar reports started popping closer to the Omaha-metro area.

Kennebeck said his first such sighting was on Monday.

"The first one was very close — I would say it was still 200 feet in the air, so I wouldn’t say I had a clear picture since it was dark with my naked eye," he said. "But with the binoculars, I was able to see — I was able to see at least one propeller. I’m sure there was more, but with the blue light flashing, I was at least able to tell it wasn’t one with wings; it was one with big propellers, and I can definitely make the outline of it."

It certainly was not your typical aircraft, he said.

"I can tell the difference between a plane and a drone, that’s for sure," he said. "They see planes out here. They’re flying around all the time, so..."

Most objects spotted Tuesday were flying at 50 miles per hour, Kennenbeck said. All drones 6 News spotted with the Saunders County Sheriff’s Department were seen moving eastward.

“It definitely raises curiosity because it’s something that I’ve never seen either patrolling the county it’s dark and you see stars all the time and when you see something in the sky that looks different it definitely raises curiosity,” he said.

Witnesses say they aren't spooked, even though they say as soon as they pulled out the camera, the drones would turn their lights our and move away. They say they just want to know why they are hovering over rural farmland at night.

"Obviously, if I was more concerned about what they’re doing, and if it’s a threat to anybody, obviously I’ll be a lot more concerned about them," Kennenbeck said. "But it’s not like I drive around and constantly look for them. (Monday) night, I was doing a little bit of that after I got the call, but it’s deafly not a huge concern at this point, so no I don’t drive around at this point."

When we asked the deputy to speculate what this could all be, he said at this point, he has no guesses that make sense.

"I definitely don’t think it’s alien. Like, I don’t think that," Kennenbeck said. "I think if anything, there’s somebody out there in a van or something with a lot of high-tech equipment that’s able to use these things, whatever their personal use is. Whether it’s government or civilian, yeah, that’s just a huge huge question mark."

Earlier this week, the FAA said the drones were likely not malicious but that the government agency was investigating the reports. As local law enforcement in Colorado and Nebraska looked for answers from the national government, local drone experts confirmed the reports were "odd.