Author Topic: Surveillance over Reston, VA?  (Read 4434 times)

Offline Chucko

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Surveillance over Reston, VA?
« on: April 28, 2024, 02:57:35 PM »
On the morning of 22 Apr, from 9am to 11am, I watched a small, fixed-wing, single engine turboprop orbit over Reston VA at an estimated altitude of between 3,000 and 8,000 ft.  None of the live tracking web sites (FlightAware, ADSBexchange, etc.) showed any such airplane.  A call to Consolidated Potomac TRACON resulted in "we cannot divulge any information about any such flights."  Surely, this aircraft- clearly within the TRACON- was being tracked/controlled.  Its precision flight path, repeated orbits passing precisely over the same spot in the sky overhead exactly every 300 seconds, leads me to believe it was being navigated by a computer-controlled system.  I assume it was piloted, even if operating on auto-pilot, even if it was not squawking any ADS-B or other transponder signal, and even if it was flying VFR.

I believe it was a training mission for DHS, for potential future support of events like the Super Bowl, Boston Marathon, or in support of first-responder support for natural disasters such as Hurricanes/Tornados/Wildfires.  But DHS won't respond to my inquiries even though their web site touts their aerial surveillance capabilities.

I don't think this was an active police action given no news reports later that day.  I don't think it was illegal or any kind of a secret operation.  I'm just very curious to know what it was. I've seen similar flights overhead 3 or 4 times over the past several years.

Is it possible that any contact with ATC would be recorded by LiveATC receivers that could be used to identify the aircraft or its owner?  If so, given the flight path I described, which frequencies should I monitor? 

Any assistance would be appreciated.