What's up with the mysterious plane circling Sacramento?

SACRAMENTO - A light plane that has been flying regular patterns day and night for weeks over parts of Sacramento has led to reactions on the ground ranging from curiosity to annoyance.

"It'll just make a continuous pattern over and over," said Larry Bishop, who lives in the Arden Manor neighborhood. "I'll go to bed 11 o'clock at night and it's still circling the house in the same pattern."

The flights appear to be centered over an area roughly bounded by Fair Oaks Boulevard on the south, Howe Avenue to the west, Watt Avenue to the east and Cottage Way to the north.

Arden Park resident Richard King captured a flight sequence from the website FlightRadar24 on the evening of March 8 showing an almost perfect circle.

King said he's relatively sure he was able to see the plane's registration through binoculars. If he's correct, the plane is a 1966 Cessna registered to a 73-year-old man in Illinois who did not immediately return a phone call.

Update March 19, 2014: The tail number provided by King actually belongs to a 1966 Cessna 150 that is currently parked in a hangar at Morris Municipal Airport in Morris, Ill., according to airport staff.

News10 observed several passes Tuesday at noon, all of them counter-clockwise, which residents said is the standard direction.

"It just goes in left-hand circles," Arden Park resident Pat Lof said. "I find it annoying and I'm very curious about what's going on."

Dozens of people have weighed in on Facebook and on the neighborhood website NextDoor.com. Some suggested the plane was hired by the Drug Enforcement Administration to search for heat signatures that might reveal an indoor marijuana-growing operation.

"It's not ours," DEA spokeswoman Casey Rettig said.

The Federal Aviation Administration could offer no explanation either.

"The aircraft was flying in uncontrolled airspace and was not in communication with air traffic controllers. We do not know the purpose of the flight(s)," FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.


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