A mystery object, thought to be a military or law enforcement drone, flying in controlled airspace over Denver almost caused a catastrophic mid air crash with a commercial jet Monday.
The pilot of the Cessna jet radioed air traffic controllers to warn them that “A remote controlled aircraft” had flown past his plane far too close for comfort.
“Something just went by the other way … About 20 to 30 seconds ago. It was like a large remote-controlled aircraft.” the pilot said in the transmission that was captured on the live air traffic audio website liveatc.net.
The craft was reported as being about 8,000 feet above sea level, or about 2,800 feet above the ground, at the time the pilot reported the seeing it. It did not show up on radar.
The type of drones used by NATO typically fly at 10,000 feet and below. Other tactical military drones can fly up to 18,000 feet.
Denver 9News reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, which it has described as potentially “extremely dangerous.”
“The threat is there from a collision standpoint,” an FAA spokesman said.
Congress recently passed legislation paving the way for what the FAA predicts will be somewhere in the region of 30,000 drones in operation in US skies by 2020.
Privacy advocates have warned that the FAA has not acted to establish any safeguards whatsoever, and that congress is not holding the agency to account.
In addition, a recently uncovered Air Force document circumvents laws and clears the way for the Pentagon to use drones to monitor the activities of Americans.
Constitutional and legal expert Judge Andrew Napolitano, and his Fox News colleague Charles Krauthammer have both warned that the drones could become a literal shooting target for Americans protesting their illegal use for surveillance by the government and the military.