No matter your age, you have those events that occurred during your lifetime that are seared into your memory.

You know exactly where you were and what you were doing when they occurred.

Maybe it was the assassination of JFK.

Or it could have been a happier moment, such as Tom Osborne winning his first national championship.

The Challenger exploding, the beginning of the Gulf War and the announcement that Magic Johnson was HIV positive (then a death sentence) are three from my lifetime.

Now, everyone in Central Nebraska young and old can add another.

Where were you when the Great Drone Invasion of 2020 took place?

There is nothing like mysterious objects flying around the sky to give people something to talk about when the January weather is being a little boring.

The story slowly grew from reports of drones being seen flying over eastern Colorado and western Nebraska to a wide swath of sightings in the middle of our state.

What were they doing? And who is operating them?

It’s tough to find too many mysteries today, not in a world where “How do you Google?” brings up 13,910,000,000 results in 0.69 seconds on Google.

But if there is a mystery out there and there is a possibility to add some conspiracy theories to it ... you’ve hit the jackpot.

And there aren’t any theories out there that aren’t topped by someone else’s even wilder beliefs anymore.

The people who believe that the Earth is flat will find themselves in a debate with others who believe that the Earth itself is a hoax.

The mysterious drones that appeared to be slowly migrating east weren’t your less expensive hobbyist version of the devices.

So who has the money and the time to send them out night after night, and what are they out there doing?

The government is always a prime suspect. But it is also a pretty boring answer unless we are getting poisoned by drone contrails for the purpose of mind control.

It could be a test project by our future Amazon overlords. When one-day delivery isn’t quick enough in the “Now! Now! Now!” 21st century, drones will be the answer to our instant shopping needs.

And I will admit, my uneasy feelings about these mysterious objects flying around my city would have quickly disappeared if one had dropped off a large, thin-crust pepperoni pizza on my front doorstep on its way through the neighborhood.

But the real answer is obvious. If the phrase “ancient astronaut theorists” instantly excites you so much that you develop a Giorgio A. Tsoukalos hairdo, then you know that it must be aliens.

Ever since Roswell we’ve been onto the visitors from outer space. As our technology has advanced, so has theirs. I’d expect the modern-day UFO to be more compact and efficient — dare I even say drone-like?

Or some other supernatural being could be responsible. Notice that an ever-so-rare Bigfoot sighting in Nebraska didn’t take place during the drone invasion. Was that because the big guy was too busy operating all of those drones (and the controller can’t be easy to use with those size of hands)?

While this will be one of those “I remember when” moments, part of me hopes that it isn’t a one-time event.

Maybe from now on, just after New Year’s Day, drones will start their annual migration from the southwest corner toward the eastern part of Nebraska.

Families will go outside together and look away from their phones for a few minutes and instead look up at the sky — and then quickly lift their phones up to start recording if any drones do come into view.

Even if that doesn’t happen, I have to think that the publicity drawn by our mysterious visitors will have a lingering aftereffect.

So in March, when 500,000 sandhill cranes invade the state with blinking lights attached to each wing, you will know who is looking to draw a little more attention than usual.

And maybe create their own “I remember when” moment.

Dale Miller is a sports writer for the Independent. Once a week he wanders away from the sports department to offer his take on non-sports related topics. Email him at

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