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Contrail photos through history

I’ve collected together a few photos of persistent spreading contrails from the past from 1991 back to 1940, just to show that this is nothing new, and that skies exactly like those shown on the “chemtrails” conspiracy web sites have been happening for the past 60 years. Mostly these are just photos I found on the internet, but several, like the first four, are scanned from books, so can be physically verified.

1991, From the book Peterson First guide to Clouds and Weather

Here are four photos of contrails, scanned from the book. You can see these photos on the Amazon page linked above. Click on the photos for larger versions. I suspect the actual date of these photos is pre-1991, but that’s certainly the latest possible date.



1984, Rustler Peak, Oregon
Old and new spreading contrails. Then, as now, Oregon has a lot of North/South flyover traffic going between California and Portland/Seattle/Vancouver.

The above photo is from a collection of photos of forest lookouts in Oregon. Most of which were taken in the last few years, but a few like the above, back to 1984. It’s interesting to see just how few of them contain contrails, and just how many contain clear blue skies, regardless of which year they were taken in.

Here’s some from 1990, taken by a tourist in Washington DC:

Capitol Dome, 1990

New York, 1994,

New York, July 1, 1992

Persisting and Spreading Contrail. Mt Hood, Oregon, October 1964, Ed’s JG Photos

Mt Hood, July 15th 1985, Rob DeGraff

Mt Shasta, 1989, Taylor Sherman

1995, Mirror Lake, Oregon

1991, Oregon, Coos Bay, Jonathan Harel

1985. Tahoe

1986. Mt Whitney, California

Arizona, September 1988

Mount Adams, September 1987.

North Vancouver, 1989

Paris, March 31, 1983, OliBac

Oregon, 1990, mdintenfass

1986, March 8. London, England.

1989, May. Echo_29, Nigh time contrails cas shadows on the clouds.

1988, Prague

pre-1981 – Plates 173 and 174 from “A Field guide to the Atmosphere“, by Schaefer and Day



1977 Michigan – a single persistent contrail cuts the sky, through some rippled clouds. Found on a chemtrail forum.

1972, From the book Clouds of the World, by Richard Scorer


1970 – Photo of a stop sign with a persistent and spreading contrail. I found this photo on a forum somewhere. I’m not sure of the source or accuracy of the date.

1967 – Plate 113 from Cloud Studies in Colour, Richard Scorer and Harry Wexler.  Shows over 30 contrails, some criss-crossing:


1963 – Photo by Bob Shomler

1958, San Fancisco airport: Two persistent contrails cross in the sky.

1954, A photo by Ansel Adams entitled “Rails and Jet Trails

1945, Europe: Contrails from fighter escorts (P-51s). Both old and new. You see lots of these types of photos when people try to debunk chemtrails, the believers say that engines back then were less efficient, so produced more trails. Ironically, the more efficient an engine is, the more of the fuel is combusted, so more water is produced. So the more modern an engine is, the more likely it is to produce a persistent contrail.

1944, Contrails formed over Germany by the 91st Bomb Group on a mission to Zeitz, Germany on 30 November 1944

1940, Europe, Bomber with fighter escorts

1940s, From the 1950 book Air Force: A Pictorial History


For more WWII contrails, see here:

WWII Contrails

[UPDATE] Here’s a collection of photos from “fuzzylogic”, originally posted on davidicke.com. They are are all from the site airliners.net, and most are dated in the 1960s and 1970s.


(UPDATE 7/27/11) Here’s an excellent collection of historical accounts, images and moves of historical Contrails from Phage on the Above Top Secret forum:


441 thoughts on “Contrail photos through history

  1. Don Gisselbeck says:

    There is an odd statement in the April/May issue of Air and Space (page 41). I at first interpreted it to mean that MIGs left no contrails. Naturally I Googled “MIG, contrail”. The first page was fascinating, with links to Korean War air combat tactics (heavy reliance on contraill spotting), recon from a B-29 with contrails interfering, and a beautiful shot of US fighters intercepting MIGs near Alaska.

  2. billybob says:

    How does a propeller engine plane, leave a contrail, or a chemtrail, or any trail for that matter?
    All the pictures of planes in the ww2 and pre ww2 eras were prop driven planes?
    Weird? Or what?

  3. Alexey says:


    Every hydrocarbon-fuelled engine produces a lot of water vapor in its exhaust. It will condense in a cold air, leaving a trail. Have you ever seen a vapor trail behind a car in a frosty weather? I have.

  4. MikeC says:

    It doesn’t matter much which hydrocarbon fuel is being burned – the result is always a lot of water. There’s a video on YT of a couple of modern P-51’s leaving contrails here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFYzHfjTGtk

  5. GregOrca says:

    Billybob, in fact a piston engined airplane or even a car will produce MORE water in its exhaust than the original amount of fuel it carried . You just usually don’t see it at ground level because it’s in the form of a hot invisible gas: ie, water vapor

    That may not seem possible untill you realise combustion requires oxygen and the mass of the oxygen molecules in the air are added to the hydrogen molecules from the hydrocarbon.
    An engine burning decane for instance has the following chemical equations:

    1mole decane weighs 10*12 + 22 =142 gram.
    ‪1 mole O2 weighs 16*2 = 32 gram.‬
1 mol CO2 weighs 12 + 16 + 16 = 44 gram.‬
    ‪1 mol H2O weighs 2*1 + 1*16 = 18 gram‬

    ‪So Combust with oxygen :‬

    ‪2 C10H22 + 31 O2 ->20 CO2 + 22 H20‬

    ‪2mol of Decane weigh 284 grams.‬

    ‪22 mol of Water weigh 396 grams.‬

    ‪So 396 grams of water result from every 284 grams of decane fuel‬

    Here’s the chemical equation for octane combustion: 2C8H18 + 25O2 —-> 16CO2 + 18H2O
    2mol of octane weighs 228 grams, 18 mol of H2O weighs 324 gram so even burning octane produces MORE water than the original amount of fuel.

  6. Jay Reynolds says:

    A simple experiment:
    Go to an auto exhaust with a cold object having some mass and hold it briefly in the exhaust stream. There will be condensation of water. Prove it for yourself.

  7. That sounds like an interesting experiment, you’d need a control object as well, and also avoid dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  8. Don Gisselbeck says:

    There is also the odd effect of it being much easier to see your breath when standing next to a running car. It seems this is mostly due to the exhaust water vapor. (There is a similar enhancement when sawing wood with a power saw.)

  9. Depending on where you are, that might also be partly due to increased aerosols.


  10. Iam says:

    After reading over both sides of the comments here, my speculation regarding these persistent contrails having less-than-innocuous applications has been reinforced.

    1) Why is so much time and energy being put into an extensive site that thoroughly attempts to debunk something that the author considers so incredulous to begin with? I find it very hard to believe that any mentally healthy individual would engage in such an activity without some kind of compensation or agenda.

    2) Why is the DNS lookup information protected/private? What proof exists to give readers confidence regarding the credibility of whoever is behind the information being presented here?

    There are more questions, but there is an underlying tone of dishonesty with this website, especially when the so-called debunkers resort to ad hominems, posting broken links, and asking for strawman evidence like photos that couldn’t possibly meet the resolution required to see the things that are being described here.

    Good luck with convincing the public. You certainly haven’t convinced me.

  11. Alexey says:

    Iam said:

    “I find it very hard to believe that any mentally healthy individual would engage in such an activity without some kind of compensation or agenda.”

    My sentiment exactly, only about the proponents of the “chemtrail theory”. Please feel free to point any factual errors in this site and they will be corrected.

  12. I spend time because I’m an unemployed nerd, and this is one of my hobbies.

    The DNS setting is just the default at Namecheap.com. Most sites on the internet have the same kind of private registration.

    And Echoing what Alexey said: fee free to point out any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions, and I’ll fix them.

  13. Noble1965 says:

    I never understood number one…

    Because I’m interested in spreading truth in the face of ridiculous lies and paranoid nonsense…I must be paid to do so?!

    That’s just absurd…and paranoid.

  14. Indeed, if you go by: “I find it very hard to believe that any mentally healthy individual would engage in such an activity without some kind of compensation or agenda.” then that means that everyone who attends Furry conventions must necessarily be being paid by the illuminati.

    I mean why else would they do it?

  15. captfitch says:

    Bad example Unc. Those are fetish driven. How about model trains- not a fetish.

  16. Strawman says:

    It’s funny how people still manage to think this site is run by some government agency. I mean, Mick is very open about who he is.

    On the other hand: dismissing this site as propaganda or focussing on motivations is merely a way not to discuss the facts presented. (As a side note: Unfortunately, I can’t say this tactic is not employed by debunkers as well. It is, and all too often.) (And another side note: Often, I think, the discussions fall apart exactly at the disagreement about what should be considered as facts, evidence, science. Sometimes it’s like people use two different languages. They may sound the same and use similar words, but the meanings are shifted against one another.)

  17. I found this an interesting site, and perhaps there are time when people mistake condensation for chemicals. But the UK recently admitted releasing toxins over selected towns back in the 1970’s to see what would happen. The research project, at Porton Downs, I believe, is said to be “ongoing”.

    This shows the UK, at least, is happy to treat people as statistics. Their record of treating their own people is so poor that suspicion naturally arises.

    When I was 2 months old we moved to Hall Green Estate in Birmingham. We didn’t stay there long, but it was in the early 60’s that heavy metals started leaking into people’s gardens. People were told not to let children play outside. The government just shrugged and said it was all a big mystery.

    Well, in the 1990’s it was finally admitted that the government had created a massive toxic dump after the war, dumping tons of nickel, cadmium, mercury and other horribly toxic waste from wartime manufacturing. Then the problem was, what to do with the land? They built Hall Green Estate on it.

    These people are clearly sick – they have no regard for the ordinary person. And it is this terrible reputation which gives rise to conspiracy theories. Having been put at risk myself there as a small child (of course we played in the garden) I have no confidence AT ALL in the government’s integrity. They are only there to make a quick buck for as long as possible, and the only reason they survive is because most people are so poorly organised and motivated that cattle prods are required to keep them moving from place to place to any kind of a schedule.

  18. Danny55 says:

    “The research project, at Porton Downs, I believe, is said to be “ongoing”.”

    No, when ASKED if it was ongoing,the representative replied ” We do not comment about ongoing research”
    Now this may seem to suggest that the spraying (in the 50’s and 60’s) was still happening, but, if you think about it, they could not say anything else, as eliminating what was NOT being researched will eventually lead to what IS being researched.
    If you asked the representative if any topic was being researched, eg “do fried eggs make an enemy sterile?” the answer would be a variation of “We do not comment about ongoing reasearch”.

  19. Rude bastard says:

    Lotus guide?!?!

    It all must be true!!!

    It says so right there!!!!

  20. Jay Reynolds says:

    Lotus Guide starts out with a bogus premise, and makes a false claim about what atmospheric physicists say:
    “Contrails are the commonly seen condensation trails left behind large jets that quickly dissipate within a few minutes and that can last longer than normal in certain atmospheric conditions. Atmospheric physicists say that contrails last only 60-90 seconds normally. Chemtrails get their name from “chemical trails” and they last much longer and spread out.”

    No atmospheric physicists are cited by name, because not even one of them says that.

  21. x says:

    never paid much attention to this issue until one morning watched two consecutive jets very high up starting a contrail and then abruptly stopping, then starting again. these jets were not doing this at the same time — after the first jet stopped leaving its trails and I lost sight of it, a few minutes later a new one came into view from the same direction and location that the first had come from, and began doing the same thing. I made a video of it because it was so startling to see that taking place.

  22. Sounds like there was a region of air that supported contrail formation, and planes were flying through it.


  23. alex says:

    Don’t know if this has been said before… but keep in mind, weather modification methods and techniques are no secret and have been around since the early 1900s and spraying aerosols from planes since the 50s. So the question of whether this is really occurring should be moot. The real question should be, “what can be done to stop it.”

  24. Noble1965 says:

    My guess, the answer would be something like this..

    “The same thing we do about the billions and billions of sources of aerosols at ground level….nothing”.

  25. Terry says:

    I was 11 years old in 1957 when the first commercial jet liner plane flew.

    We are being loaded up with chemicals from these aircraft.

    Why all the questions if their are no Chemical trails?

    Why doesn’t any tv station cover them in the evening when these planes from polluting out atmosphere on purpose.
    I’m 68, born in 44, think memories get Fd up?
    I’ll match you in a life memory test any time.

  26. Steve Funk says:

    I’m the same age and I have a pretty good memory, but the length of contrails is a pretty trivial subject. I think I remember some persistent contrails and some short ones but I wouldn’t trust my memory on that because was not something important to note. So I would rather trust the paper from the Journal of Atmospheric Science in 1970, various newspaper articles, and sources such as the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

  27. MikeC says:

    Terry you were if yuo weer born in 44 then you weer 13 in 1957! 🙂

    However you were only 8 when the first commercial jet airlienr flew – it was the de Havilland Comet – a British a/c, and it took up service in 1952 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Comet#Operational_history

    The questions occur, IMO, because people do not know what contrails are. some people are deliberately making up stories about contrails that are not true. And without knowledge of contrails some people believe the stories.

    the reason aircraft pollute is the same reason cars and trucks and ships pollute – cheap transport using fossil fuels.

  28. Steve Funk says:

    My memory is about the same as Terry’s. I think the first US Domestic commercial jet flew late in 1957.

  29. MikeC says:

    Ah – well US domestic jets are not the same as all jets! 🙂

  30. Ash says:

    Hello everyone,
    I was ging to spend the best part of my afternoon Writing about why i believe in chemtrails however it seems the only real thing you can really do is testing.

    If you really want to see if these chemicals are being sprayed then test the soil, test the water, test the snow on top of a pristine mountian

    I have been doing this for some time now and comparing my results with other people around the world, and old soil and water analysis and what i have found is mind blowing.

    I am currantly putting together a paper the will shock people to the bone, and when it is finished i shall publish it everywhere i can.

    Upon reading it you will NOT be able to argue against the evidence… until that time try to stay well fellow brothers and sisters.

  31. Jay Reynolds says:

    I will await your results, especially comparing old soil and water tests with present ones.
    some of that has already been done, and it was found that levels of the commonly claimed aluminum in rain was about the same, from ordinary mineral dust. Levels of aluminum in the soil were likewise the same.

    But the problem with testing stuff far away from the lines you see six miles above is that you can’t easily relate one to the other, when there are multiple reasons for a change.

    The real mystery of “chemtrails” is not hard to solve. Think of it as a CSI type of investigation. A Crime Scene Investigation. The investigators first gather evidence, which you say you are doing, and that’s fine if you are totally honest and open about it. But then what do they do?

    Usually, the next step is to identify a suspect, and connect the evidence to that same suspect.
    Only then can the crime be prosecuted, right?

    That is the problem which the chemtrails advocates haven’t even started to work on, but why not?
    The lines you see, which you say are the criminals, are made by airplanes only six miles away, but vertically. If you were a CSI investigator and the crime was six miles away, al you would do is drive over and aprehend the criminal, after all, you can see the crime being committed righ before your eyes, right?

    What you need to do is to apply some technology and identify these planes. They are not unmarked, they all file flight plans and must land and take off. They all have owners and pilots, by fuel and get repaired. All of this is recorded and is available through multiple sources which are acessible to you if you know where to look.

    Here is how to do it:

    The first two movies promoting the chemtrails hoax were What……, and Why….
    They dragged those out for two years and many bought into it. The Who…… part is not even being discussed, though it is easy enough to discover.
    Why inThe World Aren’t They Doing It?

  32. Jules says:

    Feel like this is going to be a waste of my time, since many of you seem to be amateur (meaning not paid) but full-fledged debunkers. Regarding tests, here is a link to a report, carried as an ad in a Northern California paper.


    For a long time Cliff Carnicom couldn’t get anybody to take a sample for analysis. When he finally found a lab that would, the analysis was the same. Generally aluminum and barium, with some kind of organic component, and (recently) he’s found erythrocytes (red blood cells) in samples.

    As if that weren’t enough to demonstrate that something is being put into the atmosphere that wasn’t being put up there before the mid 80’s – and I’l get to that in a minute – there are many telephoto shots of jets with the “contrails” coming off the wings, when the engines are on the fuselage, near the tail. Gee I wonder how that happens?

    I grew up in southern California in the 50’s and I remember contrails as being MOSTLY a short-lived phenomenon, with the occassional longer-lived or persistent ones. That is NOT the case today. Unless the laws of atmospheric physics have changed over the last 50 yars, something else is going on – as anybody but those who wish not to see can readily observe.

    But all of that falls far short of my own direct experience, in seeing the stuff falling out of the sky in front of me – twice. The first time was outside Sedona, near a ranch I was living on in 1985 – 87. One afternoon in Sept. ’85, after a hike to some nearby cliff dwelling ruins, a friend and I noticed these long thin white strands of material coming down out of the sky. We though at first it was the “cloud spiders’ we’d heard about – a species that migrates by climbing up into trees and then spins a strand of web until the wind catches them and carries them downwind. But when we examined the threads that had landed on tress and rocks (and on her car) there were not only no spiders, even on ones that had just landed, but the threads were far larger in diamter than any web material I’d ever seen, and there was a tertiary structure to them, folds on folds. When they landed on surfaces, they tended to clump and turn into a gelatinous mass after a couple of minutes.

    The thing that surprised us was that the paint on her car was eaten away by the small clumps of material. If I had still been working at my lab at U. C. Irvine, Developmental and Cell Biology Department, I certainly would’ve taken in a sample for our scientists to analyze – but I’d left that job a year before. At the time I didn’t connect it to the increasingly frequent “persistent” contrails I was noticing out there, but was aware that HAARP was coming online at the time, since I was working with somebody studying the “Russian Woodpecker” ELF signals that had been noticed first by radio amateurs in 1974, and had by that time been tracked back to the facility at Saryshagan (reported in Aviation Week July 28, 1980, p. 48). HAARP broadcasts in similar radio frequencies but with that same rock-solid 10Hz modulation.

    The second time I witnessed this skyfall of white goo was about July or August of 1995, in Las Vegas. Same kind of stuff came down on all the cars in the parking lot of a strip mall on Sandhill and Flamingo. And the strands – same structure, consistency and color – pitted the paint on all the cars I saw there, including mine. I still have the car, with the small etched holes in the paint on the horizontal surfaces where the stuff collected. By that time many people were beginning to talk about the chemtrails, and that reminded me of the 1985 event, at which point I connected the two in my mind.

    My guess is the mixture was not correct for the size nozzles installed on whatever aircraft was being used, and that’s why it came down in small strands instead of being aerosolized as is apparently intended. There are anecdotal accounts on the internet of aircraft maintenance technicians who’ve run across the “extra” plumbing that shouldn’t be there, or are not represented on the schematics. One account details how the technician traced the plumbing from some odd pumps in the lavatory service bay out to the wings and to trailing edge spray nozzles that appear the same as the static discharge spikes. Only they alternate with the regular solid spikes and are obvious hollow tubes. Of course after seeing this and questioning the maintenance crew chief he was told to mind his own business.

    Hopefully one of these witnesses will have enough guts to make it official and at least file a notarized account for people to read, rather than posting anonymously. In the meantime we have photographic evidence, as mentioned above, and the lab reports.

    You can try to deny this all you want, but there’s no denying what people actually see and touch with their own eyes and hands. What I find is that most deniers of odd data don’t want to accept facts and solid evidence – or even lab reports – because of the implications. Maybe you should read Title 50 of the US Code and see what the government allows the military to do to us as far as using us for experimental subjects goes.

  33. JFDee says:


    many if not all your points have been discussed around here, either in the articles of this blog or in the metabunk forum (see “Forum” link on top).

    I’ll start with your first point, the Mt. Shasta snow and water test. There is an extended thread with plenty of facts in the forum:

    In a nutshell: if you test water for dissolved components, you have to filter out particles like dust. Otherwise you are also testing dust which comes mostly from soil. Aluminum compounds make up a large share in soil. So if you test soil from around the world for elements, you can expect a mean level of 8 percent Al.

    No matter if you take your samples with or without filtering, you’ve got to have more data to compare the results with – samples from different places and previous years, taken with the exact same method – before you can come to any conclusions regarding the measured levels. If you have worked in a lab once you will agree.

  34. Jay Reynolds says:

    Jules, You can find out what the folks with these lab samples don’t want you to know by googling “shasta snow and water tests metabunk”
    On to Carnicom-
    Carnicom has no lab sample results because he doesn’t want to have any. He is a very strange man. Did you know that his college major was high altitude photogrammetry/surveying? That is the study of how to gather data about the ground from high altitude planes or satellites using cameras. Think about it. Surveyors use planes to take photos of the ground, but the reverse is also true, you can take photos from the ground of the air and identify planes.

    This is what Carnicom found in 1999:

    He stopped right there. Fast forward to 2013. If Carnicom had saved $1/day that comes to 2013-1999 is 14 years. 14 x 365 = $5110.00

    $5110.00 to buy a first class telescope and camera, he should be getting this:

    Instead, Carnicom begs for money to look down at stuff in a microscope for which he NEVER shows a real lab analysis. Explain why this is the current state of affairs?
    You want to talk lab analysis? When Carnicom started claiming to have found web material (BTW, the spider silk you found with folds is called “cribellate”), I created this web page to show him how to do a proper analysis:

    Though he is fully aware of this information, you will find it NOWHERE on his website. Why?
    The best he ever did was to pour hair permanent solution acid and MEK on it. No lab analysis:

    Next, he sent something in a box to the office of the EPA director during a period of anthrax scares. They sent it back after I forced them to respond to him using a FOIA request:

    As you can see, I’ve done more to shed light on this case than Carnicom. He doesn’t want you to know these things, he only wants money to continue useless childlike ‘experiments’ with hair perm solution outside his area of expertise when he should have been doing proper testing and been a leader in organizing a worldwide campaign to solve the plane mystery by actually photo-identifying these planes. Why not?

    The bottom line is clear. He doesn’t want to solve this. He is just messing around and wants other folks to pay for it. He will never solve anything, that is the only conclusion you can make.

  35. Captfitch says:

    No, not from “alternate” static discharge wicks. On the walk around any pilot would notice something different about his or her wicks. Two differences in fact if they were not real wicks.

    If one mechanic has seen the “extra” pipes why haven’t thousands and thousands seen them on the thousands and thousands of heavy checks?

  36. Anonymous says:


    Explain this one….explain my footage i have taken with my telescope and camera…explain why these “contrails” are cpoming out of some unmarked plain white craft. NO markings at all. How does altitude effect this? How about planes that are numerous and are leaving trails, but arent even NEAR flight paths? Flights coming from overseas as well. WAYY off course. What about planes that fly in “formation” like in the video? NO commercial airliner, OR military craft can, or would do that over cilivian air..especially urban areas. i would like actual answers here please. NOT could be’s. Anyone else wonder why a person would go to this much length to disprove something like this? A site, links, research and all. JUSt to say..Uh uh…no its not. i find that odd. To me, this would be a perfect de-bunking debunking site. I was a flight brat as a kid and have logged thousands of flights…I would ask my mom, why are those clouds so long? She would say, honey, when you get older, there are a few things you cant really ask about. That is one of them. i was told BACk then, dont ask. So now im not a kid..and Im now asking. condensation i would get..but not all the time.,

  37. Can you post the footage of the unmarked white planes with no markings over on Metabunk:

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