SACRAMENTO - A 19-year-old college student has discovered the secret behind a mysterious plane that has been been circling parts of Sacramento for weeks.
There were actually multiple aircraft and the flights had nothing to do with training or radar calibration as some had speculated.
"It's the FBI," the college student said, asking that News10 not identify him to avoid potential problems. "They're obviously watching something."
The young man had been seeing the flashing aircraft navigation lights over Sacramento's Arden-Arcade area, but didn't feel compelled to research the source until he saw News10's report featuring residents expressing curiosity and even annoyance at the constant orbits, day and night.
He found the answer through a link on the Sacramento County Airport System's website designed to help people identify aircraft so they can file a noise complaint.
The airport system's link to WebTrak shows the orbit on multiple days in February and March of at least three different aircraft mostly flying out of McClellan Air Park. The planes were Cessna models 182 and 206 and the call signs begin with JENA or JENNA, which, according to online reports, is the prefix used by the FBI.
FBI spokesperson Gina Swankie declined to comment on the FBI's use of aircraft and the JENNA call sign, but News10 found a Cessna 182 listed for sale by a Reno airplane broker that reportedly once carried the call sign JENNA 085.
The asking price for the Cessna is $135,000 and the sales pitch describes it as a "former FBI airplane. The US Government spared no expense on upgrades and avionics."
Although most of the surveillance activity took place within a circle roughly three miles in diameter and centered between Howe and Watt avenues, the flight track shows the FBI aircraft occasionally left the target area to apparently follow a vehicle or vehicles on local roads and freeways.
The FBI flights appeared to have ended Tuesday night.