The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation into nighttime sightings of unidentified drones flying in formation over rural northeastern Colorado and southwest Nebraska over the last two weeks, the agency said.

The cluster of drones, technically known as unmanned aircraft systems, have been spotted in at least four counties in Colorado, garnering national media attention.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in a statement emailed to Reuters that “multiple FAA divisions and government agencies are investigating these reports,” adding that the agency does not comment on the details of its open investigations.

No private companies nor government agencies have claimed the drones.

The Phillips County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office said in a Dec. 20 Facebook post it was investigating “multiple reports of drone sightings in the county over the last week.”

On that day, deputies from Phillips and Yuma counties “tracked over 16 drones between the two counties. We believe that the drones, though startling, are not malicious in nature.”

Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliot said in a phone interview that the drones with blinking lights are flying in square grid patterns nearly every night between 5 and 10 p.m., and appear to be widening their path.

“They now have moved into Morgan County (Colorado) and have been spotted in Perkins County, Nebraska,” he said.

Elliot said he had spoken to FAA investigators about whether the agency could determine if the aircraft were being used to map the area for possible oil and gas exploration purposes.

Wyatt Harman, who chased the drones when they flew over his Washington County, Colorado, property, told NBC’s Today show on Tuesday that seeing the mysterious aircraft was “unnerving.”

Sources: NBC News;  New York Times

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