MARIETTA — A mysterious low-flying airplane that repeatedly circled over Marietta for four days in a row last week has two residents scratching their heads.
Paull and Ardice Saffold were awoken in the early morning of July 19 to the sound of a plane engine.
The couple, who live near Hickory Hills Elementary, went out to catch a glimpse of the aircraft, which appeared to be a white, four-passenger, single-engine plane.
But the couple spotted the same plane later as it passed over the roof of their home again just two miles west of the Marietta Square.
“When it first happened, we thought the pilot was emptying gas so he could make an emergency landing,” Ardice Saffold said. “But we figured someone would’ve notified us, and then it started the next day, too.”
Paull Saffold said the plane followed a similar path for about four hours Tuesday and Wednesday, and for a couple of hours on Thursday.
“We’ve lived in this house for 34 years and we’re used to planes that fly over, but that’s it, not circling,” he said. “We’re just curious because it’s very unusual.”
Dobbins Air Reserve Base spokesman Shaun Shank said the plane did not originate from the base and the controllers did not give it clearance to fly.
“We have limited control around the air space,” he said. “Our air space we control is more immediate to Dobbins.”
The Saffolds said front desk staff at McCollum Air Field in northwest Cobb told them that they had received complaint calls from other residents, but had no answers about the plane’s purpose.
“The McCollum tower said they knew what it was but they weren’t allowed to say what they were doing,” said Ardice Saffold.
Don Dykes, a former Lockheed employee and volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol, said it was unlikely that it was the air patrol, which is usually used to fly over rural and mountainous areas where it’s hard to locate people.
“I’ve heard of a company that does aerial photographs for real estate,” he said. “That could have been it.”
Dykes said planes must legally fly at least 1,000 feet above residential areas.