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Mystery in the sky: Family says drones hover over their home almost nightly

Flying in circles over their home for the past two months are what the Bucheimers believe are unmanned drones from uncertain origins.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Living on a dead end road can have its perks. Ending up on one in a search for answers can feel a little like going in circles.

"We're kind of baffled," said John Bucheimer, who lives with his wife Amy and their two sons off a gravel road in rural Washington County, Maryland

"I like my privacy," said Bucheimer. Lately, that privacy has felt invaded. "If there is a legitimate need for the government to be here doing this, they need to let the citizens know."

Flying in circles over their home for the past two months are what the Bucheimers believe are unmanned drones from uncertain origins.

John says when neighbors first called to say they'd seen mysterious drones flying over the neighborhood, he and his family started paying more attention to the sky.

"Sure enough, we saw a bunch of drones," he said. 

And the drones, the Bucheimers say, seemed to be paying attention to them, too.

"It stopped and it hovered and then it came toward us. And I just thought, 'Why?'" Amy recalled of one close encounter. "It was hard to deny that it was it coming toward us."

"We actually had one peek in the window here," John said from their kitchen table. 

The Bucheimers say the drones come out around sundown on just about every night with good weather.

Neighbors say they've seem them still flying the next morning.

They've recorded what they can in cellphone videos and tried to track down the drones' owner online.

"So, we watched where we think they're taking off from," said John, "and we're pretty sure we know exactly where it is. And we've got the address."

It's a plot of land a mile from their house that property records seem to trace back to the federal government.

"The owner: United States of America," said Amy, pointing to online records. 

When the Bucheimers called the Federal Aviation Administration to file a complaint, the FAA told them it was a matter for the local sheriff, who sent them back to the FAA.

More circles. No answers.

The night WUSA9 watched from the Bucheimers' back porch, it was hard to say for sure what was flying overhead – a lot of low flying lights that were either drones or perhaps small planes.

But, there was no mistaking a jumbo-jet flying low over their backyard – something the Bucheimers say they never see.

It came back at least once. And, according to public flight data, the jet circled their part of Washington County until nearly 4 a.m. when it headed back to where it took off from – Naval Air Station Patuxent River, more than 100 miles away.

The Navy confirms it is flying low altitude missions in the area that are "...crucial to our national security."

But that still doesn't explain the drones.

A government employee himself, John says he is prepared to trust federal officials that the flights are necessary if the drones are from a government agency – if that agency would communicate with him and his family. 

"Absolutely. 100%" he said. 

"If it's a legit reason, they're looking for something, there's a problem – tell us. Give us some information. Don't leave us hanging," said Amy. 

WUSA9 talked to both the FAA and a Navy spokesperson for Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

There is some speculation online that the large plane seen flying over the Bucheimers' home has the ability to deploy drones.

The Navy will only say, "We fly a variety of missions from NAS Patuxent River involving a variety of aircraft. In an effort to lessen the disturbance of these missions we release a Nosie advisory that contains relevant information regarding the flights."

That advisory for people in that part of Washington County runs through June 1.

The FAA will only said that they look into all reports of unauthorized drone operations and investigate "when necessary."

The agency said in a statement, "The FAA looks into all reports of unauthorized drone operations and investigates when appropriate. Drone operators who conduct unsafe operations that endanger other aircraft or people on the ground could face fines that exceed $30,000. In addition, we can suspend or revoke drone operators’ pilot certificates. The FAA encourages the public to report unauthorized drone operations to local law enforcement and to help discourage this dangerous, illegal activity."

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