Drones sighted on at least one night were actually small planes, RCMP say

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RCMP have confirmed that on at least one occasion, the suspected drones spotted in the Lake George and Dumfries areas were actually small planes from a flight school.

On Wednesday night, RCMP received "a couple" of calls about possible drones in the communities west and southwest of Fredericton, Const. Isabelle Beaulieu said.

RCMP made contact with people from the flight school and learned that training students have been flying small planes at low altitudes in those areas, Beaulieu said Thursday.

For the past two weeks, residents in the area have been expressing concerns that drones were flying nightly over their farmland and feared for their privacy.

To me, it's obvious that it's a training aircraft, not a drone. - Bob Henderson, Moncton Flight College

Beaulieu said RCMP also received a call from residents of Swan Creek, in the Oromocto area, with the same complaint, and "have not been able to confirm it was indeed a drone."

Bob Henderson of the Moncton Flight College, which has a satellite campus at the Fredericton airport, said students and instructors fly two-seater small planes over the Oromocto and Lake George areas and along the St. John River.

He said he's seen the video of earlier "drone" sightings.

"To me, it's obvious that it's a training aircraft, not a drone," he said.

Henderson said all commercial plane piloting students must log some hours flying at night for practice. He said the planes are DA20-C1s, have a wingspan of about 38 feet and fly a few thousand feet high, between 2,000 and 6,000.

He said students perform some manoeuvres, where they change direction.

Also spotted near Oromocto

Brittney Jones, who lives in the Oromocto, southeast of Fredericton, said she's seen what she believes are drones over her property. She said they are a common fixture in the night sky, only taking a night off because of rain, snow or high winds.

"Not every night but if it's not us that sees it near our home then there's reporting on a Facebook group," said Jones.

"Every single night there's someone posting that they're seeing one or two, or sometimes people are saying four."

Drones were also reported in the Bear Island area along the St. John River.