Mysterious plane circling Twin Cities raises concerns over surveillance

Author:
Updated:
Original:

The unusual pattern of a plane that has been seen circling above the Twin Cities has raised concerns that it is being used for government surveillance.

KSTP reports that flight patterns for a Cessna 182T Skylane, call sign N361DB, show it circling above various locations in and around the metro area, prompting a response from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which believes the plane is equipped with surveillance gear.

The FBI has refused to comment on whether it is using the plane as part of an investigation, but ACLU-MN legislative director told KSTP that its surveillance planes have the ability to "capture activity in an entire city in just a few swoops, including cell phone data and license plate readers."

The aircraft's history on FlightRadar24 shows it has circled above the west metro area on several occasions over the past 10 days – including over Minneapolis, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park and Burnsville.

MPR reports as well that last Friday the plane circled downtown and Powderhorn Park during rush hour in a route "so precise that it suggests the plane may have been on autopilot."

According to FlightAware, the plane is one of three Cessnas registered to a corporation named LCB Leasing based out of Bristow, Virginia.

The Star Tribune spoke to local aviation expert John Zimmerman, who found a report from the Washington Post stating that a plane registered to another company based in Bristow had been used by the FBI to circle Baltimore hours after the recent riots.

Similar flights have been seen above Chicago, Boston and in California.

The Star Tribune reports that police departments in Minneapolis, Bloomington and Hennepin County had no knowledge of the flight, while the FBI did not comment on who owned the plane and said it couldn't speak to "an operational matter." It has though previously acknowledged using planes above Baltimore.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.34.43 AM

Watch: Drunk squirrel in Minnesota captures the world's attention

The squirrel was immediately cut off after nearly tipping over.

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.15.09 PM

Small town gym refusing to close facing lawsuit from attorney general

The gym is facing a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order to halt their operations.

credit card, payment

Money Gal Coaching: Bouncing back after living your best life

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.

flickr-mall-of-america-mitchell-hirsch-march-2019

When do stores open on Black Friday this year?

Many major retailers will be open Black Friday, some for extended hours.

police tape, crime scene

Man found dead outside home near Cass Lake

The man was reportedly shot outside the property.

Minnesota_Welcome_Sign_-_Minnesota_Welcomes_You_-_Taylors_Falls_(28269804891)

Gov. Walz announces $1M in grants to boost Minnesota tourism

The money will be used for marketing efforts to attract people to Minnesota's hard-hit tourist spots.

coronavirus, ICU

Nov. 25 COVID-19 update: 72 deaths ties Minnesota's single-day high

A COVID-19 update will not be provided on Thanksgiving Day.

Texa-Tonka

Revival to open its fourth Twin Cities location

The fried chicken and smoked meat maestros are moving to St. Louis Park.

Duluth and Case Recreation Center

St. Paul to open two extra temporary shelters for homeless people

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the new shelters will be opened in the event of excess demand.

vote, election

Minnesota once again had the highest election turnout in the country

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a record percentage of voters also sent in absentee ballots.

Related