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Drones Pose New Concern As Witnesses Mistake Unmanned Aircrafts For Paraglider In West Sacramento

AUBURN (CBS13) — A paraglider allegedly fell from the sky and crashed Tuesday night at the Port of West Sacramento. Police searched the area but found nothing.

Investigators believe the person who reported the crash mistook a drone for a paraglider. According to dispatch audio, the witness reported seeing a person do a stunt in the air before dropping from 50 to 100 feet high to the ground.

California Highway Patrol Valley Division Officer Kevin Vinatieri, a pilot with the division's Air Operations, explained those types of calls are a rare occurrence for the Sacramento region.

"They don't occur very often," explained Vinatieri. "When they are very vague, unknown, not an exact location, not a lot of description, we are definitely going to go out there and investigate it, but a lot of times it doesn't pan out."

Out of thousands of calls a year, only about a dozen are related to possible drones, unknown objects, or people dropping from the sky.

"The Starlink satellites -- we have an 80 or 100 of them; we had a few calls on that...exceptional to watch but that was the strangest in my career," he explained.

In Southern California, unmanned aircrafts being mistaken for actual people is becoming more common.

Twice last year in Los Angeles, flight crews spotted what they thought was a person in a jet pack. Turns out people think it could've been a drone made to look like a human. This July, the flying man was seen floating in the LA area again.

"Skywest 3626 use caution. The 'jet man"'is back, let me know if you see him," said air control to a pilot flying near LAX.

Real or fake, objects can't be ruled out by investigators until they are in the sky, Vinatieri said.

In the Sacramento region, these occurrences are rare, so they don't put much of a strain on local resources.

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