Notice an airplane flying loops late at night? Here’s what it’s doing

Notice an airplane flying loops late at night? Here’s what it’s doing
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 3:03 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It started with a question from viewers who noticed a plane flying loops over their hometown late at night.

After they reached out, WKYT Investigates dug into it and found that the plane was doing the same thing for weeks in different parts of the state.

So what is the mystery aircraft?

Relax. It’s nothing sinister. And no, it’s not a UFO.

WKYT used the tail number, N690LN, to trace the plane back to its owner - VeriDaaS, a Colorado-based company that provides LiDAR services.

LiDAR stands for light detection and ranging. It is “a remote sensing method used to examine the surface of the earth,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

(These images from NOAA provide an idea of what LiDAR can do.)

WKYT’s Garrett Wymer reached out to VeriDaaS and eventually heard back from someone with The Weather Company, who told us they had been running data for East Kentucky Power Cooperative.

EKPC serves 1.1 million Kentuckians by providing electricity for 16 co-ops in 87 counties. The Winchester-based company owns power plants and 3,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines.

Nick Comer, a spokesperson for EKPC, told WKYT that they hired a contractor to fly above their transmission lines to see what trees and vegetation around them could be problematic.

(The process is kind of like this, as described by a power company in Texas.)

The LiDAR data provides EKPC with precise measurements that allow them to crunch the numbers and do computer modeling to determine what trees or other potential obstructions could cause problems for their transmission lines especially when they sag or sway.

WKYT’s Garrett Wymer asked Comer if EKPC would show viewers how the company is able to use the technology to help them. Comer declined, and instead shared this statement:

The plane’s first flight was late in the night of October 8, according to FlightAware. It has flown one or two flights on many nights since then, taking off from Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, doing its rounds and then landing again at LEX a couple of hours later.