December 22, 2011
UFO Sighting In Kansas? Not So Fast!
Residents of Cowley County Kansas want to know what that unidentified object was that traveled through town atop a police escorted semi-truck earlier this week.
The truck, loaded with a 30-foot wide, tarp-covered, oddly shaped object, driving through town caused many locals to joke that it might have been a UFO or some top-secret aircraft, reports Benjamin Radford for MSNBC.Cowley county sheriff, Don Read, claimed he was not allowed to divulge much about the mysterious craft, though he did let slip it had been manufactured by the nearby aerospace company Northrop Grumman.
Brooks McKinney, spokesman from Northrop Grumman, announced that this was an X-47B drone aircraft tagged for use by the US Navy. However this was not announced via traditional news service. Instead it was released to blog site Life´s Little Mysteries, perhaps in a bid to add some drama to the otherwise mundane news?
“We built two for the Navy.” McKinney announced, “They were being tested at Edwards Air Force Base [in California] since March. One is on its way to Maryland, and the other will remain in California.”
He took the UFO speculation in good humor, though, and understood the curiosity. “Clearly people are interested in what´s going through town. It´s unusual to see a shrink-wrapped aircraft, especially one with that shape,” reports Chris Matyszczyk for CNET.
When asked why the aircraft did not merely fly to its destination, McKinney answered, “It´s difficult to fly an unmanned drone through commercial airspace.” Piloted aircraft are one thing, but long trips for large aircraft without a human pilot on board are frowned upon for both aviation security reasons and practical concerns.
Image Caption: The Northrop Grumman X-47B during its first takeoff at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in February 2011. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Rob Densmore
On the Net: