Somebody took some high-level interest in Roslindale today

Mystery plane in Roslindale

Somebody piloted this Cessna in repeated circles around Roslindale and Hyde Park this afternoon. AlertNewEngland reports:

Some Google detective work shows it's probably fed law enforcement.



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      How low was it? Maybe this

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      How low was it? Maybe this is law enforcements way of bypassing the recent law that prevents helicopters from flying too close to the ground over residential areas in order to find signs of marijuana cultivation.

      If you knew anything about

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      If you knew anything about cultivating or busting growers you would know that would be a huge waste of time.


      Sorry, I don't grow weed or

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      Sorry, I don't grow weed or work for the dea. I was just trying to think of an idea as to why a law enforcement agency might need prolonged surveillance in roslindale.


      I'm no good at judging height

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      It was low enough to be noticeable inside even with closed windows, but high enough that it really wasn't intolerable, unless you fixated on it and kept following it.


      Two thoughts come to mind:

      Two thoughts come to mind: state-police night-flying drills (guessing) or perhaps you heard a medical helicopter flying up to one of the hospitals. I think they use the train tracks for visual navigation.

      There looking for

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      You, or another illegal Haitian radio station.


      It may be FEMA developing

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      It may be FEMA developing floodplain maps... they can and conduct these flights either at night or during the day.

      From the FEMA website....

      This Appendix presents the guidelines and specifications that must be used for the application of Airborne LIght Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) systems for gathering the data necessary to create digital elevation models (DEMs) for hydraulic modeling of floodplains, digital terrain maps, and other National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) products.


      What google detective work?

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      What google detective work? You just linked to somebody's twitter that said that. Kinda like that incident that said racism was trending last week after the hockey game.

      OK ...

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      The Google detective work was following one particular link from results on Googling the airplane serial number to a page that showed the company to which the plane is registered once bought a helicopter from the DEA. I admit I linked to that particular tweet partly because of that and partly because, well, the guy in question is kind of the go-to guy locally for helicopter info, which is good for me because ever since the Marathon bombings, I now frequently get asked on Twitter "Why is there a helicopter over [place]?" and nine times out of ten, I have no clue, but he often does.


      You can look up the tail

      You can look up the tail number and see to whom the plane is registered, right? I write this as a question, because I've never done it.

      Same with helicopters, I suppose. If you can't see the tail number (because it's too dark, for example,) you can bring it up on Flight Aware (or some other radar website) and click on the icon to show you the information.

      Yep; likely a FBI long duration surveillance or intercept plane

      Same report last year about a plane like this circling over Quincy.

      I can't find recent articles about it but this 2006 era wired article talks about how small prop planes are being used as platforms for long-duration, low-and-slow surveillance flights in the US:

      The basic idea is that the planes can fly for hours and are slow and low enough to get incredible imagery - it's also likely that the planes carry an airborne version of the Stingray fake cell phone tower simulator that is used to intercept and provide better tracking granularity on mobile phones.

      The key data points would be to ask witnesses:

      1. Did the plane always circle in the same rotational direction (camera pods are on one side of the plane so they generally have to fly the same sort of circle or figure eight pattern)

      2. Anyone notice any new wifi stations or sudden increase in bars or signal strength on their phones?


      Same pattern

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      A largeish circle or oval that seemed to hit the edge of Roslindale Square to the north, maybe Washington Street to the west, somewhere over Hyde Park to the south and east of Hyde Park Avenue to the east. Over and over again.


      The circular station keeping is interesting and makes me think fed level law enforcement even more. The commercial LIDAR and imagery flights would not fly the same path over and over again - they are expensive to run and often carry expensive sensors leased just for the job so they want to cover as much land as possible.

      Someone wanted their cameras or fake cell phone tower over a particular part of town for a reason. Will be interesting to see if anything comes from this in the coming days/weeks/months

      A bit off topic, but have you

      A bit off topic, but have you seen the released report on FBI Aviation online, I think it was from a few years ago, maybe a congressional report. The redactions in it are lovely 'the agency has [redacted] pilots, fly [redacted number] of the following aircraft: [redacted] [redacted] [redacted], etc. A nice 80? pages of no useful info on the unit to anyone who wants to know anything about the unit.

      This is

      a distressing development for the tinfoil hat crowd. Black helicopters, black helicopters now they've got to look for generic Cessna's?