For weeks, Kingston residents noticed a “mystery plane” flying around over their homes — but no one could quite figure out what it was up to.
There had been hundreds of plane sightings since Jan. 4, and there were a few guesses as to what it could be.
The plane was flying around at night; one aviation enthusiast in the city heard a buzz over his home that lasted for about a week.
Royal Military College Prof. Christian Leuprecht surmised that the plane belonged to a “government entity.” Plane tracker Neil Aird suggested it was an RCMP plane, based on a flight path.
The RCMP at the time only offered a statement saying its “primary concern is the safety and security of Canadians. We have multiple aircraft that support our mandate in Ontario and elsewhere in the country. To maintain the integrity of our investigations and operations, the location of our aircraft is not disclosed.”
On Thursday, Kingstonians received some clarity as to the plane’s origin. It was related to two raids executed in the city that resulted in the arrests of two people linked to a national security investigation, sources told Global News.
One of the two people arrested was a minor, sources said.
Speaking to Global News Radio’s Charles Adler on Thursday, Leuprecht, an expert in defence and security, said he was not sure this operation was “run in an optimal fashion for a national security investigation.”
“When the RCMP is flying a plane here on a regular basis at night, it’s a good tip that something may be up,” he said.
The plane, Leuprecht said, had been “raising eyebrows” within Kingston for weeks “because it seems to show up in the middle of the night, usually after midnight, then it circles for several hours on end, so it didn’t seem to be moving particularly far.
“And if you’re familiar with the ways plane traffic works, there was concern this could pose a security issue.”
Leuprecht was also puzzled as to why they used this particular plane “if two high-altitude planes they could have used, that do not make the amount of noise that this particular plane does.”
This particular plane was brought in from Montreal “for this particular purpose,” he said.
Since 9/11, Leuprecht said, there isn’t much that happens in the sky that authorities aren’t aware of.
Any plane flying at this one’s height — estimated at 6,000 feet — would have had to file a flight plan with Transport Canada, he said.
“Nobody just flying a private plane would be able to get permission from Transport Canada to fly their plane with no lights on in the middle of the night, in relatively close proximity to our own little airport here, if this wasn’t a government priority,” Leuprecht said.
“I think people had already drawn the inference that there was government, and likely law enforcement, involvement and investigation under way.”
In a statement on Thursday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale didn’t provide further details on the investigation.
“The Government of Canada has no greater responsibility than to keep its citizens safe,” he said.
“Earlier today, the RCMP and other police partners took action in Kingston, Ont., based on credible information, to ensure public safety. Any comments on operational details will be made at the appropriate time by the RCMP.”
- With files from Mercedes Stephenson, Alexandra Mazur and Jessica Vomiero