Why Planes Make Vapor Trails

Popular Science, March 1943. Page 55.

While this applies to 1943 planes, it should also be noted that the exact same mechanisms are responsible for contrails from modern jet aircraft. Jet engines burn fuel that is essentially the same kind of chemical as used by old prop planes. They produce lots of water vapor, and a contrail can result if the weather (at the plane’s altitude) is right. If the weather aloft is humid, then the contrail can persist for several hours.

262 comments on “Why Planes Make Vapor Trails”

  1. i understand you debunking me hard because uncinus cant answer my question. your not answering it at all. id have to put my money on either the b17 or b24 judging by google images. how does it disprove that it used to be military. the military uses private organizations to do any dirty work so that its not traced back to the US. whether its done by private or military i dont care. i saw the contrails below 5000 ft and you criticizing my camera phone or lack of camera means nothing. but i guess i got the term PROP PLANE wrong because you say the b17 and b24 are not private aircraft. thats fine with me thank you for enlightening me by pointing out my mistake. however it does not disclose the plane, where it was, and what it did. so based on what im accounting YOU being the informed captain should be able to give me an easy enough explanation.

  2. Oh an a C-130 will leave contrails at low altitude if it is cold enough – I linked to a video of one doing so on takeoff from Antarctica on one of the pages here 🙂

  3. oh wow mike first plane i look up looks waaaay more like what i saw and definitely not a b24 thanks

  4. DHC7 is the one best of choices. maybe i should mention that this is one instance i am describing that ocurred at night but there was plenty of spraying earlier in the day. besides that theyve been chemtrailing below 5000 ft on several occasions to the extent i would use the adjective to number the days and nights and planes as “countless” but all low altitude were performed by OPTION:dhc7. im no plane expert but from the choices i choose the dhc7 as the most replicate of memory.

  5. We are not “debunking” you – but as far as I can tell your description and information are so vague as to be essentially useless – it is not surprising that no-one can give you a precise answer based upon inadequate information!

    On the contrary, it is somewhat unreasonable to demand an answer from someone without giving them enough information to provide it!

    Uncinus does an awful lot of detective work and gives good answers in many cases – but he’s not omniscient – he isn’t god, and the occasional inability to answer a question is to be expected!

  6. I was referring to Captfitches comment that he aircraft does not make contrails, when in fat any aircraft can make contrails if the atmospherics are correct.

    Your description is still useless as far as I can see – an aircraft which you think might have been a DHC-7, less than 5000 feet although you didn’t’ actually have any distance and angle or height measuring equipment, making a “chemtrail” that you don’t know anything about….

    It’s all vague and yet you expect a r9ock solid answer?

    Sorry – but you are being pretty unreasonable here. There are a number of things it MIGHT have been – I would guess the most likely one being that you are mistaken in what you saw! Sorry – but that’s my general impression.

  7. what part of my description was inadequate?
    why dont u fit this into that thick skull of yours-
    UNDER 5000ft
    PERSISTENT CONTRAIL-LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE ANY FUCKING “PERSISTENT CONTRAIL”
    4 PROPELLOR PLANE LOOKS LIKE DHC7
    explain that. seems like enough info to me.
    remind me what else i need to describe to you to help you understand the 3 details i gave to you.
    when- right b4 midnight
    where- high desert
    how- probably? DHC7
    what- PERSISTENT contrails, descend, expand.
    why- what am i at your website for?

    anything im lacking that you could help me be more aware of mike?

  8. there is not difference between your persistant contrails and what i saw under 5000ft and i know because i live on a hill that extends upwards of 250 ft and these planes are easily sightable as they fly directly over me. i know 5000ft from 30000ft. i think any dicktard can tell the difference between the two. one is 6 times greater than the other. theres some numbers for ya. hey how about you send me some numbers now

  9. im curious as to why you didnt mention the dc4. that one also appears like it but im fearing it might be too big but thats pretty hard to scale from 5000. pretty hard to scale the difference between a dhc7 and a dc4 from memory

  10. What it is so hard for me to fucking understand is what it is you think anyone is going to be able to tell you from those 3 pieces of information- for your own fucking information I fucking understood them fucking fine.

    Hope that fucking helps your lack of fucking understanding.

    Have a nice fucking day 🙂

  11. then why the fuck did you say it is fucking “inadequate”fucking”information”. if something as simple as a fucking plane flying under a fucking mile with fucking “persistent” contrails or whatever the fuck you wanna fucking call it, BUT it did occur and if it’s FUCKING legitament then you should have a fucking legitament answer mr fucking mike fucking C!

  12. good luck trying to cover everything i have explained to a four corner fortress that you cant seem to dispell so you resort to the blasphomy of what i have said. instead of offering real information or any real hypothetical basis you have deemed yourself incapable of learning and solving

  13. lol
    “If that’s what you saw, then it was not a contrail. Contrails are made of ice crystals, and they don’t descend to the ground. At this point there’s not a lot I can suggest without photos, or a diagram.”

    at this point theres not alot YOU can suggest. sounds like lack of answer.
    anyways explain this picture from your website but within the descripts ive said like most importantly under 5000 ft.

    http://contrailscience.com/wp-content/uploads/petersonpl174w.jpg

    UNDER 5000
    4 PROPELLER-size and shape of dhc7
    and mind you this airport is much too small to land a c130. or maybe you could but ive NEVER seen one land or take off from the airport i speak of.

  14. tell mike to shut his trap and maybe well get closer to answering the the observation that i have boundaried with a max altitude and plane size. and the easily identified persistent contrails. now if it IS NOT contrails but looks exactly like contrails then what is it?

  15. i live on a hill and the air port takeoff is literally hundreds of yards from my eye view. they fly over my house ever day and its easy to tell the altitudes of planes because they have specifications fro where they fly and usually 99 percent of pilots ive observed are either flying at 30000ft altitude passing by to an international airport probably whereas there “was” constant activity coming from the small airport with planes fitted to the size of the small airport and they all flew pretty low so you can see perfect detail and i could hit them with a pellot gun probably. thats how close they fly when their not taking off or landing. oh and yes it first took off and then landed after it made its run and i watched it the WHOLE time. 🙂

  16. “UNDER 5000ft”

    Please tell us how you determined the altitude of the aircraft. And if I’m following this thread correctly, you saw this at night?

  17. So it happens frequently? And no photos?

    What’s ground level altitude where you are at?

    Where do you live, approximately? Surely this would have been visible to tens of thousands of people?

  18. do you have sky writing pics that are longer and allow me to view over 5-10 minutes from the skywriting release. your picture looks like it would have just come out of the plane where no time has elapsed essentially

  19. saint george utah
    however im not comfortable in giving any addressal information to you even if it is simply a city. a small one. sky west i think is the company in management of the airport. elevation 2500-3000.
    anyways i dont really have the opportunity any longer because their opening an international airport soon and as of early january late december has been inactive. recently after the inactivation of the airport a c135 refueler jet flew directly from the south to north over the top of my house with no contrail -of course- but you NEVER see that happen here because as i will mention it was WELL UNDER 5000.

  20. We can’t see what you saw to verify it, imakeopsname2?. First you claim that the plane you saw is under 5000 ft. However you don’t seem equipped well enough to make such a measurement.

    Then you say that something that looks exactly like a contrail descended to the ground. This is phenomena that seems to be unknown to anyone here, and as skeptics we need extraordinary evidence to verify extraordinary claims and don’t put much stock in the word one random person on the internet.

    Then you say this contrail that descended caused fog. Again this is an extraordinary claim, for which we have only your word.

  21. Err, I should have said “calculated” the altitude of the aircraft not “determined”, we know how you determined it (using your eyes).

    Also, just to be clear you’re saying that you watched the plane take off…fly around creating a trail of some sort and then you watched it land?

    How long did this take from take off to landing?

  22. thats a pretty good pic but now what i need to see is the largest amount of sky writing release and a 30-45 minute after shot. or maybe longer. but it sucks cuz now the only persistent contrails i see are all high altitude so i have shit to show you unless i can refine pictures in my phone

  23. only 30 min from take off to landing. if you understand the small amount of land the interlocking counties associated with saint george is not very impressive and is quite “stuffed in” or being densely populated for however dense you could consider a rabbit-humping-rodeo-riding mormonistic town could grow into a city in 5 years

  24. omg im uneducated ok the plane was flying 5000 feet from the fucking ground which is at said elevation

  25. have you ever seen half mile markers on the freeway/highway? yes we all do. double that distance and simply turn it vertical and its very simple measuring any planes under 1 mile

  26. if you think 5000 ft is a “feat” the average eye can discern in something as unaquivickly clear and unobstructed as air its really simple “feats” of the brain. if you think otherwise i ask you get your spacious/rotational whatever its called section of IQ tested…FAST
    :p

  27. Sorry, but pilots usually go by sea-level relative elevation.

    Anyway, so it fell 5000 feet in 45 minutes. So a fall rate of 1.25 MPH, seems reasonable for something like sprayed mist or powder. Certainly not a contrail though.

    Sorry to bug you, but how exactly did you get the 5000 number? What’s your experience in visually determining altitude?

  28. it didnt “CAUSE” fog. it WAS the fog-like substance. how can something be called fog thats not from natural causes defined as fog. if it was from the plane then all i ask is one possibility other than, flares, mosquito spray, crop dusting but the closest yet not cigar sky writing.

  29. wow thanks uncinus. that actually really puts it in perspective id either say im right on the money or below 5000. thank you uncinus so far you have been by far the most patient and logical of the other “dully noted” operatives of this page i respect you but i simply dont respect my position on this page because its simply amusement that i continue debating with the variety of personalities im encountering. its serious however when i do explain my side. so im hoping one of you will try a different perspective, but if not, i am becoming weary of this directionless conversation. my only hopes of achievment by continuing to redescribe my case under supposedly all-timers-enthralled-repliers is that someone like myself may experience what i have and want to know why. thats all. pursuit of happiness.

  30. and ya know what if you simply altered the meaning of chemtrails different than what is being released from these planes then you and all your friends could in all honesty say its not chemtrail. and if its not the government necessarily doing the spraying they have contracts for those of “private” organizations who are in complete secrecy or “punishment” will be enacted dependent upon the classification level of the ongoing “project” or “events taking place”

  31. but if you are here to debunk thats fine because i have no intent to go through any evidence aprehension or legal obligations as an american citizen because i too will be on the “ins” so why devastate mine own destiny. i know the legal battle is hopeless so dont trip so hard on hard evidence because you have this baby 99.9 percent wrapped up

  32. hahahaha oh uncinus. we both know planes on fire burn black. however i dont think he had engine failure and chose to nascar the city skies then land. there was no distinct purpose for its flight pattern.

  33. are you tired? no real science backing per. con. under 5000ft? well i appreciate the insight on this subject.

    Always enjoy a Challenge Gents.
    Jolly HO!

  34. u know what i cant help thinking the planes were actually lower than that 5000ft more like half that

  35. If we go by your description of events, it seems like what you observed is unknown. That being said, unknown does not equal “known” and it certainly doesn’t equal “chemtrail”.

    A more likely scenario is that your description is flawed by perception. One flaw may be your inability to give us an accurate altitude beyond “eyeballing it”. Not once did you mention how you triangulated the the altitude of the trails, so your observation could very well be completely inaccurate.

    When you look into the sky, you have no frame of reference with which to judge distance and you are completely guessing when you say “5000 feet or lower”. The eyes can play tricks on a person, especially when we’re talking about a mile or more in the sky. Check out the “Moon Illusion” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_illusion and here’s an interesting illusion video completely unrelated to airplanes/trails, but gets the point across. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3crvNDGLCM

    As far as the fog goes, that’s just a personal perception. Since you say you were observing the plane the whole time, you were already predisposed to thinking something strange was happening. If fog were to appear, your mind could have put a “mysterious” twist into it making you believe that it didn’t “act” like fog. I said “could” not “did”.

    Essentially it comes down to you saying “this happened to me” and us saying “cool story bro”. There’s no evidence, no proof, just an anonymous internet person’s perspective. It’s the same thing as someone claiming that they were abducted by aliens, had a religious experience or they have a dragon in their garage. Provide the evidence and people can piece things together, but until then it’s just an interesting story.

  36. So what did you see Imake? We don’t know from your second hand account, but you don’t know from your firsthand account.

  37. well if it wasnt at the altitude i said then explain the even more unlikely massive descent from 30000ft to the ground in rather intact mist would be even more far fetched. i didnt know from my firsthand because i didnt understand all of the atmospheric requirements as to which i asked uncinus about and was more than helpful with. it comes from the backs of the plane how can there be any misconception to see the “persistent contrail” and follow it without any other weatherly conditions interfering with or contributing to said observation. look at it from a regular persons view with regular eyes and a regular mind. contrails to descending cirrus clouds to ground lying cirrus clouds. im sure the cirrus ground cover didnt last for more than an hour and seemed to disapear although i was not actively amidst the ground layer for once i was within it i drove back halfway down the hill to my house seeking refuge in my house. the ground cloud was not lasting or perpetuating but appeared to be more of a dry mist. if you want look up the thin wispy clouds and picture them in the black sky descending and expanding not like heavy clouds but very cirrus like clouds now descending and becoming more and more lumenescent as it drifts toward the city lights

  38. and before the persistent contrails were allowed to bulge and descend you can see a fucked up version of a retarded pretzel whos center lies over the airport and in eastern adjacancy the city of st.george. so the outter loops were efficient in that they covered the exterior counties from santaclara in the west across ivins to the east down south through green valley then over my house and turning east along the bloomington saintgeorge boundary towards washington county then north along washington to the northern end of saintgeorge and back down by my house for landing. that description is restricted not on a chronological or directional basis but more my trivial memory to remember all of the places the plane flew over and the shape of his trails

  39. Ok- so apparently you guys never sleep….

    One four engine plane, taking off, flying at an AGL altitude of possibly between 2500 and 5000 ft, at night, flying for 30 minutes, spraying something the whole time and returning to the same airport. After spraying a “dry fog” like substance that was observed descending like thin whispy cirrus type clounds descending over the entire area.

    Not a c130, closer to a DC4. The product was white, not black,

    So far Ive yet to find another account of this happening in St. George.

    Is it possible that the two events were simply coincidentle? I just don;t see how one aircraft can fly over the area and cover it with anything without the plane having to carry millions of gallons or pounds of something.

    And I’m trying to be patient but you are irritated with us for not supplying you with an answer and all we have to work with is a fuzzy, changing decription that I feel like we have to pry out of you. I’d love to say ‘Oh- that was a DH7 centralized pest spray operation that was erradicating the local worm moth population with “Pestbomb” patented spray. It’s perfectly harmless”. But I can’t begin to give you an answer with what you’ve told me. Of course with any account we are handicapped because we’re doing this over the internet but with your particular case it seems your lack of supported evidence has put us at a disadvantage we’re not able to overcome.

  40. imakeOPSname2?-

    whatever it was that you saw, its seems to be nothing like that which is commonly referred to as a “chemtrail”. Its not like any descriptions, pictures or videos of “chemtrail” that are commonly purveyed on the internet.

    …just saying.

  41. very good captain although i wouldnt say it was constantly changing. i would say that i was constantly changing my wording in hopes of you obtaining the same picture ive been trying to convey. well im sorry you cant give me an answer. but due to supreme belief in the greater good of our gov. and fox news and all that shit the mormon populous of this city would be the perfect experiment for high dose low altitude spraying because noone here will believe that our gov would harm us.

  42. “Is it possible that the two events were simply coincidentle? I just don;t see how one aircraft can fly over the area and cover it with anything without the plane having to carry millions of gallons or pounds of something. ”

    they had several planes spraying that whole day

  43. why dont we not call it chemtrails because its obviously not chemtrails judging by your case and obviously not contrails or persistent contrails by my case. so we need to categorize this new trail and as the discoverer on this website i shall call it “death trails”

  44. imakeOPSname2 sems to think that he is entitled to demand an answer from people who were not there, without providing photos or any actual decent evidence.

    Mt imakeOPSname2? I said your information is inadequate – not inaccurate – if you saw what you saw then tha’ts fine.

    But you have given us nothing to show that your conclusions are actually correct – your word is simply not evidence – that is what people ask for verification for.

    Let’s assume you are an expert on trucks – someone comes to you and says “I saw this white cloud billowing out of a truck that was doing 34 mph along highway 73 from Otira to Greymouth 500 yards away. What was the substance coming out the back of it?” How would you know? It is not that the evidence is inaccurate – it is that it is not enough to enable an “expert” to answer the question.

  45. You can come to multiple equally valid (i.e. not very) conclusions.

    All you’ve got is an isolated eyewitness account of a plane taking off and landing while leaving a slowly descending white trail. It’s not evidence for anything.

  46. one plane for the night flight but earlier over the day many other planes leaving freedom trails under 5000 ft in a seemingly disipating manner as opposed to the mass release and sustained night flight

  47. im not here to come up with a conclusion im not the one with the scientific knowledge and skills. YOU ARE
    all im here for is for your expertise to help my eyewitness account.
    if you cant take one person into consideration then what do 5 or 20 people matter?
    i ask you what your purpose is other than trying to disprove the person before disproving what they have to say.

  48. You know- looking back most of us have been very patient with your problem for the last 11 days. It looks like we can’t solve it. Maybe it’s time you move on. I’m not convinced you’d be happy with any answer we gave you anyway. You came here with a preconcieved notion that we were all here to hush up anyone who saw something.

  49. proof is for proving what i claim.

    a plane dumping toxins or biological agents on mine and yours children is something worth dying for let alone finding an answer.

    if you stop at the point of evidence then you are defaulting your right to the truth

  50. of course not. other than the symptoms of death from plants and animals and the sickness of humans around the globe. psychological effects leading to malnutrition to healthproblems to death.

    its not dying of pnemonia
    its dying from the “stuff” were inhaling from the air and ingesting from the water and food.

    premature blooming is definitely an effect

  51. How exactly do you link this one little incident in a small town to “the sickness of humans around the globe”?

    Clearly it’s not been going on eleswhere, or people would have videoed it.

  52. dude

    fuck this.

    theres too much evidence.

    im done with this website.

    its very clear where the snipers crosshairs are.

    i can no longer take everyones ignorance.

    if your not a person on a corporate payroll then i ask you to find out about 1913 income tax.
    how it relates to the take over of our government infrastructure.

    the possiblity of if our government would kill thousands of people in a building for preemptive war on countries they needed to control for their income from opium and oil was in threat of being lost because the real heros the taliban army went and burned down the fields.

    i want u to ask yourself is this kind of control you want for the future of your country and your children.

    your willing to hide the truth about chemtrails behind contrails and trade your children into slavery to be paid in monopoly money by the enslavers.

    you know what im done. fuck chemicals biological agents warfare on the masses

    I DO NOT KNOW THE PURPOSE

    there isnt much time since the 2012 contract will forever silence the last free voice the WORLD WIDE WEB.

    soon we will be divided and fed the bullshit from our television which is employed by the powerful banking entities that are in control.

    have fun with the world YOU help create by continuing to disprove the TRUTH

  53. I had a general feeling that imake wasn’t really looking for an answer to “his” problem. He was more interested in finding patterns or holes in our investigative process. I think he was actually hoping that we would come out with clean cut answers so he could shoot them down.

  54. I had a similar feeling about imake’s intentions, but was going to give his story a benefit of doubt. In theory, the “trail” from a low altitude plane and the strange “fog” might be the two plausible but unrelated events, which just had happened one after the other.

    I have seen recently a low altitude plane with a short smoky trail behind. The trail looked dark against the grey sky and apparently was a kind of exhaust from the engines. There is a private-owned aerospace company in our city dealing with all kinds of aircrafts. They also own an airfield and regularly run test flights around the city, but it was the first time that I noticed a trail after one of their planes.

    Another day I saw a white smoke or steam coming from a ground source that was not coming up but was spreading along the ground in a half mile-long trail across a part the city. Apart from the scale, this did not look unusual.

    Both events had been observed in the same part of the city at approximately the same time of the day. Would they also have happened on the same date, one could have cooked up a similar story of a trail from plane having created the smog on the ground.

  55. I call BS on the whole story of his, its irrational and makes very little sense. In this day and age who doesnt have a camera on a cell phone? Once again someone with no evidence making outrageous claims and expecting an accurate explanation? Been having a great discussion with an earthquake nutter who has taken exactly the same position!

  56. “you guys are laughable..”

    Which is more laughable….

    Believing in something that has absolutely no evidence to support it’s existence or accepting the obvious and simple explanation based on basic and simple science.

    I can’t STOP laughing

  57. hey uncinus howd that saying go? the path to truth is filled with ridicule and laughter. its quite obvious the position you and your buddies are taking on this subject.

  58. You laughed first. 🙂

    I think you’ve been taken very seriously. We’ve tried to answer your questions, and give a few reasonable guesses as to what it might be that you saw. The conclusion being that there’s not enough information to really say.

    And I refer you to Carl Sagan:

    But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

    That’s not calling you a clown. That’s saying that being mocked is not a good indication of being right.

  59. lol whatever the strategy youve cemented here doesnt disprove these strange occurrences in my town

  60. i think alot of your debunking science is pertaining to disinformation that possibly “other” privatized org.’s have led many chemtrail believers to believe. for all we know it might not even BE chemicals but something else hidden in a suppressed pocket of the www that is surrounded by the illusion of well planned and acted disinfo

  61. nothing can disprove strange occurences – but until you know what the strange occurrences actually are you also cannot show that they are! Knowing what they are doesnt’ stop them being strange occurences – it just means you know what they are.

    could you explain your last post a bit more please – I don’t understand what you mean by any of it – what are ““other” privatized org.’s”? What is a “suppressed pocket of the www “??

  62. private organizations that are enacted to complete contracts of top secret command by the goverment so that if something gets found out by the people it wont lead back to the government and they can isolate the supposed “one” or “few” purpotrators of the “ghastly” jobs they were doing. its all about covering your ends and you seem to stray from the actual subject of the matter so you can ONLY cover the ends mike. suppressed pocket of the world wide web means the government or other private organizations shut down or block that website and then leave up all the disinfo websites that the other conspirists have been getting their info. if you release something not as blasphemous or something completely unrelated to what is actually happening then you are burying your trail whilst the truth is being hidden somewhere almost near unfindable.

  63. most of everything ive said comes from my minds interpretation of all the info flying around for different reasons. i do not like quoting things because im very speculative and analytical about what i do and dont believe

  64. ive never fully accepted any theory presented in the hundred websites ive gone through relating to the chemtrail conspirists or the contrail scientists. simply because most of it has no source. but what makes me different from other conspirists is that i have actually experienced the things ive said and its not simply my dellusional mind or over imaginitive mind. its ok that you dont understand it. but if you do understand it and choose to do nothing, then if theres a hell you belong there.

  65. i understand your side of the science. it makes sense but its easy to say whats happening isnt because contrail science is always going to be true. but chemtrail science has yet to be proved or disproved even with the existence of contrails. its the perfect coverup if you ask me…

  66. So you think there are NO web sites telling the true out there, and that ATS, GLP, Rense, etc are all disinfo sites created by the government?

    How would that even work? Lots of people post on ATS. Nobody says their posts are deleted by the government.

    You know, you can go to wordpress.com, and set up a blog in twenty seconds (for free). You can post whatever you want. Your posts show up immediately.

    You can also post whatever you want on ATS, you post shows up immediately.

    I think the type of total censorship you are claiming is demonstrably impossible in the US.

  67. A perfect coverup implies there is zero evidence for it (chemtrails). Clearly you don’t think this. So what IS the evidence for “chemtrails”? I’d like to address that evidence (if I’ve not already done so).

  68. “So you think there are NO web sites telling the true out there, and that ATS, GLP, Rense, etc are all disinfo sites created by the government?”
    -what i do not appreciate is having words put in my mouth. thats usually when you see me blow up and start cussing everyone out lol.

    not deleteing the disinfo conspirists have gained from the gov. would be a tool for the gov. to further disprove.

    its definitely not impossible.

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