You can run, but you can’t hide from the eye in the sky

You have to wonder how long this sort of thing has been going on, but no one has really noticed till now….

People are starting to notice small Cessna 182 sized planes flying some pretty odd patterns.
Here is one such example;

It was dark, so a sightseeing flight didn’t make sense, and when Zimmerman pulled up more information on an aviation phone app he routinely checks, he had immediate concerns.

The plane’s flight path, recorded by the website, would eventually show that it circled downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America and Southdale Center at low altitude for hours starting at 10:30 p.m., slipping off radar just after 3 a.m.

I feed my data into This guy is in another part of the country, so it was not ‘my’ data, but data from a guy (or girl) a lot like me… Running a Raspberry Pi, antenna and feeding their data into the main website.

Back to the story, what are they doing?

Similar flights have since been spotted near Chicago, Boston and in California, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has filed several Freedom of Information Act requests for more information.

It believes the planes use cameras and infrared imaging technology to photograph people and vehicles in a broad swath of the city; technology to sweep up cellphone data from a plane also exists, but it’s not clear if the FBI flights use it.

Think of the plane as a really low super sensitive satellite and you are very close to the mark.

He found photographs that show the planes outfitted with “external pods” that could house imagery equipment. He also found some of the planes modified with noise-muffling capability. That’s not common for a small plane, he said.

“The fact is there are several very powerful surveillance technologies that are deployed by fixed-wing aircraft circling over cities,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU. “These are powerful surveillance technologies that we think the public ought to have a role in discussing and debating.”

The planes use “persistent wide-area surveillance” to photograph large areas for hours at a time, Stanley said. The captured images allow authorities to go back in time, if necessary, to trace pedestrians and vehicles who come to their attention.

Here is a another writeup.

And lastly, if your into videos, an AP video summing it up.

Anyway, point is, nowdays, its really hard to hide something in the sky.
There are too many geeks looking up.