Homeland Security plane circles Webster 50 times

March 12, 2019 06:28 PM

WEBSTER, N.Y. (WHEC) --  A small plane armed with a camera was circling over Webster Monday.

Viewers saw it and asked us to look into it. 

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The Monroe County Sheriff's Office told News10NBC they didn't know about it, neither did Webster Police or the supervisor's office.  

Now, with the help of an alert viewer, News10NBC found the owner of the plane is the Department of Homeland Security who is doing work for United States Customs and Border Patrol. 

You could hear the engine of the plane in the middle of Webster. 

"I was sitting at my desk and noticed a plane headed this way," said Sheri Duncan who works in the village. 

Duncan recorded the flight on her phone and shared the video with me.

"It went from above the trees over here all the way and beyond to the trees up here and then I kind of walked around the back of our building over here and noticed that it again looped and came back around this direction behind the building," Duncan said. "I just thought it was odd that it was circling. You see planes all the time but you don't generally see them circling a defined area."

The plane is a small, single-engine Cessna.

News10NBC searched the plane number and found out it belongs to Homeland Security. News10NBC tracked Monday's flight on a website called FlightAware.

The plane left the Niagara Falls Air Base and headed in a straight line for Monroe County. The tracker shows when it got to Webster it circled the village and town 50 times in two different spots. 

The same plane flew the southern shore of Lake Erie last Friday. It tracked the New York Pennsylvania state line on Feb. 22. Three weeks before that it was patrolling the Mexican border near San Diego. 

News10NBC spoke to the Department of Homeland Security's division of Customs and Border Patrol on the phone. They said the plane flying over Webster was on routine patrol and training. 

Here is the statement News10NBC received from DHS Customs and Border Protection:

The mission of Air and Marine Operations (AMO) is to serve and protect the American people. AMO conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond our border, and within the nation's interior. AMO operates a fleet of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and marine vessels throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. AMO continuously assesses the security environment and deploys its manpower and assets accordingly.

While the movements and patrol areas of AMO aircraft are operationally sensitive, AMO's advanced capabilities and skill sets in the air and maritime environments fall within our core competencies: interdiction, investigation, domain awareness, contingency operations and national tasking missions.

"Just makes you wonder why," Duncan said. "Why Webster and why this particular area?"

The plane flying over Webster had, what looked like a camera fixed to the back of the plane. The photos are copyright and so we cannot show them to you here. 

The plane number is N839SA. 

If you search that number you can see the photos online. 


Berkeley Brean

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