It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No, It's… a Drone, or a Hoax


A YouTube video purporting to show a drone in the skies outside Chicago a week before the NATO Summit has made it all across the internet and even to a local CBS affiliate.

The video, below, hasn't been confirmed by anyone, and the military says it doesn't recognize the markings. Only a few years ago, the best a video like that could hope for is to be picked up for a documentary on UFOs or something. It shares many of the same elements as countless hoax UFO videos on YouTube. It's likely a hoax too, but because the idea that drones are indeed coming to American airspace isn't, this video's caught the imagination of bloggers and reporters alike.

Read Judge Napolitano lament the coming of drones to America here, and watch the video below to judge for yourself:

UPDATE: Via Commenter Jingles, what looks very much like the source image for the drone "in" the video.


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  1. Blender is getting really good at compositing and motion tracking.

  2. Maybe, maybe not. One thing I am sure of is that drones spotted in US skies are likely to draw fire from cranky, libertarian gun owners.

    1. “One thing I am sure of is that drones spotted in US skies are likely to draw fire from cranky, libertarian gun owners.”

      That does sound like fun.

    2. Who will then be declared “domestic terrorists” and whisked away without due process.

    3. Yeah, I am worried that here in Grant parish their appearance will result in a hail of bullets falling back to earth. I am going to have to buy roofing tar to fix all the holes in my roof.

      1. The bullets will decelerate significantly on their way up and the amount of acceleration they gain from gravity on their way back down probably won’t be enough to penetrate the roof of your home (of course that assumes someone is shooting pretty much straight up in the air). It’s the ones shot at shallower angles that you have to worry about. They’ll arch back down at high velocity and still pack a lethal punch.

        1. Neglecting air resistance, if shot straight up, the bullet will have the same velocity when it hits the ground as it had when it left the chamber at ground level. If air resistance is included, you really only need to look at the terminal velocity of a falling bullet. Since it is around 300 feet per second, the terminal velocity of a bullet is still lethal.

          1. Basic physics FTW.

        2. Didn’t MythBusters test something like that?

          1. You don’t even need Mythbusters. People have been injured and killed by falling bullets.

            1. Bullets fired at an angle (still retaining significant forward momentum) will retain it’s spin and speed and can be deadly. A bullet fired vertically will have a hard time killing you. They generally will lose their spin and tumble down. Might hurt like a bitch, maybe even break the skin if it is a larger caliber handgun. Maybe a 50 caliber would break your skull and kill you…. that’s a big hunk of lead. But a 9mm or a .22? Probably bounce right off and make you say “ouch!”.

              Of course, it is really hard to shoot straight up, so don’t try this at home. I pulled a 30.06 round out of the roof of my house when doing repairs. It had been there a long time and appeared to come down at a reasonably steep angle, maybe 60 degrees. It penetrated 2 layers of shingles and embedded itself in the upper layers of the plywood decking. Don’t know how that measures up to your skull, but it definitely would have ruined your day.

      2. More like birdshot, Suthen. See also my comments below.

      3. In response to all on the very interesting subject of projectiles….If you dont have a copy of ‘Hatcher’s notebook’, acquire one.
        Very very interesting stuff. Fun to replicate as well.

    4. So, uh, how armored are drones against small arms fire exactly?

      1. I think they fly too high for that.

        1. Military-grade drones – yes. The LE-grade drones I’ve seen look much more like high-end hobby R/C aircraft. Also, they can’t fly them too high otherwise they interfere with real aircraft.

          1. Good point, although the way I see it law enforcement will at first assume that they are not flying over a hostile population, but once a few get shot at they will adopt military protocol.

          2. Then they’ll be violating FAA regulations and there will be hell to pay once one of their craft collides, or interferes, with a commercial airliner or a private aircraft. And the higher they fly, the poorer the image of the ground.

      2. The types of drones I expect they will be using? Not much.

        By the way, for 300 bucks, you too can be a drone operator!

      3. I don’t know. But I do know that weight is a major consideration for hobby grade remote controlled aircraft. Kevlar (essentially dense fiberglass) is very heavy. You do the math.

        Bonus: I got served an ad for high end R/C electronics with this article.

        1. Hmm – I’m getting “Helipal”. That will be great once I get my own Heli. Or drone.

          Whatever it is.

          1. Be sure to get the training stand, training skids, and the simulator software. And keep it low (~1′ HOG) and slow at first. I’ve seen too many noobs take the stick the first time and total their new $300+ helis.

            1. Are you a pilot, Tonio? I’m whatchya call an aviation enthusiast, even though I hate to fly. I like big loud machines and I think ATC is fascinating.

      4. I’m pretty sure that most models aren’t armored at all. Of course, they also are usually operating at altitudes (several hundred to several thousand feet depending on the model of drone and the particular mission) that would make them very hard, or even close to impossible, to hit with small arms fire. This is especially true when you consider that the target area to actually accomplish a “kill” against a drone (i.e., the engine) is much smaller than the drone itself.

        1. I have been wondering how long it will be until drones are using for smuggling. You can only ship relatively small quantities, but it seems like they would be very hard to catch, and even if they are caught, the only loss is product.

      5. Try a barrage balloon. Completely passive air-defense. FAA might have something to say about it, though.

    5. “A *drone*?! I thought it was a Mexican spotted owl!”

  3. Who points a camera to where something is going to be and then waits for it to enter the frame? Obvious fake.

    1. this. you see the same thing in UFO videos all the time

    2. That and the guy’s terrible acting.

      Still, I appreciate the political message.

    3. And then fails to track it until it’s out of sight?

  4. Total shoop.

  5. Fake.

  6. My intuition says fake. I’ve been watching airplanes for a long time, and something about the combination of its direction, wing angle, speed, and size in the frame just does not look natural or correct.

    1. It’s the presence of Toonces that gives it away for me

      1. +Phil Hartman

  7. I, for one, look forward to the coming of our Drone Overlords, who will bring us peace, prosperity, security, comfort, and a bitchin’ new way to make the daily commute.

  8. Found the source image.

    1. Good job.

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