Home » contrails » Los Angeles Missile Contrail Explained in Pictures

Los Angeles Missile Contrail Explained in Pictures

[Update] Download the Google Earth files used to make some of the images below, and judge for yourself (or show your friends).  There’s a video to show you how.

CBS News chopper, filming the sunset on Nov 8th, 2010, catches this video of what looks like a missile, although moving suspiciously slowly. I’d estimate this is around 5:16PM, the sun is below the horizon.  Low clouds are in shadow.

They cut to an earlier shot (note it’s just above the wispy  clouds). Zooming in the tip of the contrail appears to be flickering. The flickering only shows up a for a few seconds. Insert shows sunlight reflecting off a plane, and reproduced with similar scale and background.  The actual lighting conditions would be different, with the sun reflecting off the lower portions of the plane.

Here’s an example of light reflecting off a small area of a jet. This is in real time. As light reflects off different areas, it can appear to be flickering.

The chopper continues to film the object for several minutes. It does not move much (unlike a missile).

They zoom in on whatever is making the trail. It’s very far away, so you can’t make it out.

Later, they notice the object is no longer leaving a trail, and appears as a dark dot above the old trail, which is now being spread out by the winds.

They zoom in on this dark dot, and you can see it looks a bit like a contrail left by a high altitude plane that’s far away.  Still too far away to make out the actual plane.

Earlier, at 5:19, Rick Warren takes this image from his 10th floor balcony in Long Beach.  Note these are the same clouds, so it’s taken from a similar position. The wider part of the trail is obscured.

He took several more photos, at different zoom levels, but all from the same position. You can clearly see the plane as it stops leaving a persistent contrail.

By aligning the building on the horizon, we can overlay these images to see the path the plane takes.

Adding that to the wide shot, we can draw a line showing how the plane moved though the sky. It does not match the contrail, as that has been blown south by the wind. The angle is greatly exaggerated by perspective. That dark line on the left is the shadow cast by the contrail.

Using Google Earth, we can position the virtual camera in the same place that Richard Warren took his photos from. Compare this with the previous photo.  It matches exactly.

Then we add in the exact radar track of Flight UPS902 from Nov 8th, 2010, obtained from FlightWise.com

Then we can overlay the composite Warren photo, showing that the observed flight matches the radar track exactly. The timing matches too, at 5:19 UPS902 was right at the top of the sunlit contrail on the right.

We can do something similar with the CBS footage. Because it was taken from a moving chopper it’s a lot harder to align, but we can use the cloud levels, and features within the contrail itself (click image for larger version)

You can see the CBS footage contains shots from a few minutes before Rick’s first shot (which matches the most vertical looking trail). Note the extreme change in angle of the trail over the ten minutes of CBS footage. That would be impossible if it were firing away, but makes perfect sense if the trails are parallel and horizontal.

Rick was kind enough to supply the original images, which included a later shot and several intermediate shots. The timestamp on the image was used to verify the position on the radar track. At 5:19:04, flight UPS902 was exactly where Rick photographed it (Another proof that the contrail is horizontal is that it is always evenly lit as the sun goes below the horizon, a vertical contrail would have a dark base and bright top)

Using the ten images, we can provide a rough animation of the flight of the jet.

This is the exact path of flight UPS902 (as recorded by Los Angeles ARTCC) as it approaches the area from Hawaii.

Later another Nov 8th image was found, from a web cam at LAX. This was taken at about 5:17 (the web cam clock is a bit off, you can check that yourself).

The camera moved around a bit, but by taking a daytime shot from the same web cam, we can set up a virtual camera in Google Earth in the same position.

The night image is scaled and aligned with the day image, then using the same camera position, we can see where the plane was. It matches the radar track exactly. Since this triangulates the plane in 3D space, and in time, it proves that the object was flight UPS902.

(Image from “timewstr” of AboveTopSecret) On GOES weather satellite, this shows the trail forming around 5:15 to 5:30, then being blow to the south, exactly as is suggested in by the photos. The trails move 20 miles in 15 minutes, so winds are 80 mph

This gives us the angle of the contrail, and we can add one in to Google Earth, at around 5:19, and see that when viewed from Long Beach curvature of the earth makes it look exactly like the “missile” trail.

Flight UPS902 was an MD-11, a three-engine plane that can leave a contrail that looks like it’s coming from one engine. Notice that when reduced to scale, the plane itself is barely noticeable, and certainly not when it’s as blurred as the CBS footage.

The next day, Nov 9th 2010, Tom Carroll, a retired engineer from Rockwell’s Space Division took this photo of a similar contrail in the same spot in the sky.  This does not happen every day, just when the weather was right.  The Nov 8th contrail was particularly dramatic, and the news chopper just happened to be in the right place at the right time.


Time Center Speed Altitude Lat Lon
11/9/10 1:15 KZLA 506 390 32.7297 -121.2994
11/9/10 1:16 KZLA 506 389 32.7678 -121.1292
11/9/10 1:17 KZLA 506 389 32.8058 -120.9617
11/9/10 1:18 KZLA 511 390 32.8478 -120.7967
11/9/10 1:19 KZLA 511 390 32.8833 -120.6294
11/9/10 1:20 KZLA 516 390 32.9228 -120.4647
11/9/10 1:21 KZLA 516 390 32.9597 -120.2956
11/9/10 1:22 KZLA 516 390 32.9989 -120.1286
11/9/10 1:23 KZLA 516 390 33.0356 -119.9622
11/9/10 1:24 KZLA 516 390 33.072 -119.7931
11/9/10 1:25 KZLA 516 389 33.1081 -119.6244
11/9/10 1:26 KZLA 511 390 33.1442 -119.4583
11/9/10 1:27 KZLA 511 390 33.182 -119.2947

224 thoughts on “Los Angeles Missile Contrail Explained in Pictures

  1. look up says:

    Go ask the NOAA why they want to make it rain over the pacific ocean.. They do it everyday to make it rain for precious WATER. tis’ the season they do it you can see them daily on the oregon coast.
    they shoot them off the tall NOAA ships then spend in the fly boys to spray the chemtrails to get a nasty storm brewing. This whole site is no service to the public just disinformation and spin.. who pays for this site anyhow?? here check this out and learn something new
    good luck with your big fat liar website you got going here.

  2. If it’s disinfo, then why can nobody point out ONE mistake in the posts? I’d be happy to correct anything that is wrong, just tell me specifically what it is.

  3. JFDee says:

    @look up:

    That “cloud-seeding” website is interesting, but they offer no multi-stage rocket. The propelled time is 8 seconds, after that its going ballistic. And that time is plenty to bring the thing on cloud level – why would you need more stages?

  4. ThefactsMatter says:

    “If your dumb enough to believe any of this fluff then you deserve to be lied too.”

    And the same goes to you about “chemtrails”. You have fallen for a hoax because you don’t have the knowledge of the atmosphere you believe you do.

    Cloud seeding has NOTHING to do with the trails in the sky. Nothing at all. If you knew anything about cloud seeding, you’d know that the trails we see are far too high in the sky to have ANYTHING to do with rain clouds. Not only that, the type of cloud that produce rain, and is targeted by seeding, won’t exist in the same air space as the trails. Rain clouds are MUCH lower in the atmosphere and will never be found with contrail cirrus at the same level.

    Also, cloud seeding is not performed by leaving long lines of “chemicals” in the air. The trails obviously have nothing to do with cloud seeding. That’s just ANOTHER mistake you have made in your belief system.

    “then spend in the fly boys to spray the chemtrails to get a nasty storm brewing.”

    Yeah, because we all know that “nasty storms” always follow trail sightings!

    “I know, I know, i am wearing a tinfoil hat and live in my Moms basement because I know how to read, and can go online and read what our own Governments disclosure to the public about its own weather modification programs on its own sites, and know basic 4th grade science. please let the flogging begin..”

    Actually, 4th grade science would explain the contrails to you quite easily. That is, if you paid attention in science class. These trails are formed in VERY cold air. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air. If the atmosphere is ice-supersaturated, and a jet engine flies through the area, the steam produced from the engine will have NO CHOICE but to form a trail! It (the moisture from combustion) can’t be absorbed by the air, as with a short lived contrail, because the air is holding as much moisture as it possibly can. Then, as long as the conditions stay the same, and the trail isn’t broken up by air movement (wind or thermals), it WILL remain. Please use your 4th grade science education to explain why the trail wouldn’t or shouldn’t persist! I can’t wait for you to enlighten me!

    Just because “the government” is “modifying weather” by their own admission…doesn’t mean the trails in the sky have ANYTHING to do with any weather modification program. You just assume the two things are related because they both have something to do with the atmosphere.
    In reality, the planes that DON’T leave a trail could be the ones “spraying chemicals” which are clear, and you wouldn’t even know it…you’d be focusing on your misunderstandings about persistent contrails while “the government” is “spraying” all around you.

    Please show me where, on ANY site that has provided the “Governments disclosure”, that weather modification has ANYTHING to do with the persistent contrails (or whatever YOU want to call them). I’ll be waiting for the link and I’ll be reminding you every day until you provide it. Thanks

    “they shoot them off the tall NOAA ships then spend in the fly boys to spray the chemtrails to get a nasty storm brewing. ”

    Please provide evidence that “chemtrails” (actually persistent contrails…”chemtrails” is a made up nonsense word) have, or COULD have, any role in creating a “nasty storm”. As a matter of fact, storm clouds and contrails are never at the same altitude…EVER. And anything deposited from the altitude the trails are at would never be able to “target” a rain cloud for seeding. The “chemicals” would simply drift away.

    Again, please explain how “the flyboys” create storms with “chemtrails”.

  5. JFDee says:

    @look up:

    I must have mixed up your post with annother one further above. So forget about the multi-stage thing.

    But the fact that these cloud-seeding rockets have a very short propelled phase is not going away. Now how long is the time strech in the original video during which the object is producing a trail ?

  6. Heh, I asked NORAD what their official response was and they said:

    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED


    Thanks for your email today. Below is the official answer from FAA:

    Since we could not tell the exact lat/long of the contrail in the local news
    station’s footage, we could not pinpoint the specific flight, but there’s a
    quite extensive analysis of the visual evidence and publicly-available FAA
    data at https://www.contrailscience.com .
    The guy who runs the website obtained the photographer’s actual video images
    and concluded that the image was a contrail of UPS flight 902 from Honolulu
    to LA.

    What I can tell you is that we looked at all of the radar data out to about
    100 miles and could not detect any unidentified fast-moving targets in the
    timeframe the TV station indicated that they shot the footage.


    Also, from a NORAD perspective, we have said all along: There is still no
    information that leads the Department of Defense to believe this event was
    anything more than a contrail from a plane. All DoD entities with rocket
    and missile programs reported no launches, scheduled or inadvertent, during
    the time period in the area of the reported contrail. NORAD and USNORTHCOM
    confirmed that it did not monitor any foreign military missile launch and
    that at no time was there a threat to the US homeland.

    Hope this helps,


    John Cornelio
    NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs
    Chief, Current Operations
    Media Relations, Social Media and Internal Communications

    Looks like I’m NORAD’s official response.

  7. look up says:

    You forgot to answer who pays for this site

  8. SR1419 says:

    …and you forgot to point out anything that is actually wrong on here.

  9. captfitch says:

    How much do you think these sites cost anyway? Thousands of dollars? When I used to work at a much larger charter company all the pilots (25 of us or so) got together and pitched in 5 bucks a year to help pay for a site so we could keep up with the gossip.

    In terms of time investment I could probably post two posts for every one of Uncinus’s. And I have a job and a family and a couple hobbies.

  10. TheFactsMatter says:

    Yeah, everyone who runs a website is in the NWO…I know it because I know it.

    Gimme a break…

  11. MikeC says:

    Uncinus has repeatedly said on this site that he pays for it as a hobby.

    As Captfitch said – websites are cheap – see http://www.thesitewizard.com/gettingstarted/cost-setting-up-website.shtml

    I probably spend more on dance lessons in a month than he pays for this site and domain for a year!

  12. captfitch says:

    Uncinus- did the recent explosion of activity on your site cause the cost of ownership to rise dramatically?

  13. look up says:

    That NOAA site link works perfectly by the way.

    The NOAA clearly explains its weather modification program using both ships,buoys,cloud seeding, and planes to spray particulates into the atmosphere, and by using long wave and short wave forcing (microwaving the sky). They even explain the health risk that go along with its spraying. So whats the point of this whole website if your very own government agencies tells that their spraying crap into the the sky???

    whats wrong here is the poisoning civilians and their property UNLAWFULLY with heavy metal toxins and other poisons,etc. people are well aware of this..

  14. JFDee says:

    I almost wet myself – NORAD refers people to Uncinus … This is priceless !!

    Not that anything is wrong with that – but somehow you have these images in your head: a high-tech nuclear-blast-proof bunker, walls covered with huge screens, fail-safe communication and data connection around the globe, busy technicians doing important tasks, all under the critical supervision of some no-nonsense star-loaded officers – and here they rely on the work of a gifted blogger …

  15. MikeC says:

    I dont’ know how many times cloud seeding gets mentioned by hoaxers as if it had something to do with “chemtrails” – Look up cloud seeding is well known technologogy, vailable commercially – you can actually go and buy cloud seeding services yourself!

    It has nothing to do with the hoax – not now, not then, not ever.

    And NOAA gave it up years ago anyway!

    NOAA uses radar for exactly what radar is made for – finding things. Aircraft use weather radar too – have done for decades – why would you expect it to be any different now?

  16. Casual Observer says:

    Cudo’s Uncinus! Looks like I’m NORAD’s official response. [round of applause] Take a bow!
    Uh, now for YOU dis-believers out there, these are the guys whom watch our western skies and call in air support. http://wads.washingtonairguard.com/wads/

    Have a little crow soup on me! 😉

  17. I’ve added a video explaining the Google Earth setup, with links to the KML file, so you can play with it yourself.


  18. SR1419 says:

    Look up-

    could you point out specifically where on the NOAA website they mentioned spraying particulates and the microwaving? I wasn’t able to find it…the link just seemed to be about hurricane research..


    …oh and you forgot to point out what exactly is a lie on this site…if you could help with that that would be great.

  19. Andy says:

    Thank you for taking the time to explain this easily-explained event to all the foolish, gullible people out there. Unfortunately it’s to no avail. People love to latch on to conspiracy theories. It is so obviously an airliner cruising at high altitude in from the west at sunset. But one “professor” or military “expert” saying it is what it isn’t then it has to be. I’m one of those military experts – a retired USAF fighter pilot and professional civilian pilot. But if I say it is what it is and I’ve seen this hundreds of times before (as I have) and “the public” doesn’t want to hear that, they say I’m an idiot or covering up something. And no one in the “news” wants to hear it. With them it’s all about creating “sensation” and cover-up theories. And people say “why hasn’t the government said what it is?”. They don’t have to. They said what it WASN’T”. It wasn’t a rocket. They don’t have the time or the inclination to prove exactly which airplane it was. Most people working in the government are average Joes like you and me and actually have real jobs and things to do besides figuring out what airliner caused what contrail. But if someone from the government says “I don’t know what it was” – it’s a cover-up. If they say “It was an airplane” then it’s a cover-up. If they say “it was a rocket” then it was an alien spaceship. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    If I explain the bright spot is not a rocket flame but is a reflection of the sun off the aircraft, as I have seen many times, the public tells me I’m an idiot but they don’t have a good explanation why they only see it a short time… If I point out that the contrail is lit from below by the setting sun and that If it was a rocket contrail from the ocean up, the sun would be BEHIND it (camera looking to the west) then they come up with some other explanation.

    I saw a similar situation before many years ago in Phoenix. All over the news about UFOs south of the city. They showed video of parachute flares that we used all the time on the range there (dropped from fighters). I called the TV station and explained what it was. Did that calm the hysteria? No … not even mentioned. It’s all about sensationalism, hype and airtime, conspiracy theories and the gullible public……

  20. JOE BLOW says:


  21. Stupid says:


    Contrails come from engines. How many engines are on a plane ?

  22. look up says:

    what you said..”And NOAA gave it up years ago anyway!”

    No they didnt try again ..they work in conjunction with the the states with their “water management programs” I can post tons and tons, tons of website for the those states that disclose participating in the weather modification with NOAA and clearly show how they do it with planes with chemtrail flairs, and shortwave forcing, cloud seeding rockets, etc just like the rocket shown here.what state website would you like to start with?? you going to tell me thats just illusions and condensation from commercial air planes..They spray from planes daily.People are tired of being poisoned, and tired of not seeing the sun anymore..

  23. Jeff says:

    Yet you still havent posted any links, Im not from the US but lets start with California then….
    I look forward to having something to read!

  24. Marc says:

    Interesting that the “bottom” of the contrail seems to be trailing off into becoming more transparent and wider. As if, the “airplane” is coming from over the horizon into our direction. Yet the “plane” appears to be heading in the opposite direction. If it is just a plane with a contrail, the direction of the aircraft would be COMING TOWARDS Los Angeles…not leaving it. Explain that away with a computer model. — Lots of resources to try and “debunk a simple contrail from a airplane.” This site screams “the conspiracy is true.” — “I think he doth protest too much.”

  25. It’s an optical illusion due to perspective, check various views in Google Earth. The plane is heading towards Catalina, and is about 150 miles away in most of the photos.

  26. DeeDee says:

    Very detailed and good attempt at a “rational” explanation. It just leaves out one minor detail…The FAA said THERE WERE NO PLANES THERE AT THAT TIME! What’s the explanation for that discrepancy???

  27. JFDee says:

    Can you post a link to that statement?

  28. TheFactsMatter says:

    “Very detailed and good attempt at a “rational” explanation. It just leaves out one minor detail…The FAA said THERE WERE NO PLANES THERE AT THAT TIME! What’s the explanation for that discrepancy???”

    This is the first I’ve heard that…did Alex Jones tell you that?!

  29. captfitch says:

    No airplanes where? As I see it the only source who has accurately pinpointed the location of that contrail was Uncinus

    I deal with the FAA every day- they don’t know everything that goes on in the skies.

  30. TheFactsMatter says:

    Hmmm…found this…

    FAA Spokesman Ian Gregor later released this statement:

    “The FAA ran radar replays of a large area west of Los Angeles based on media reports of the location of a possible missile launch around 5pm Monday. The radar replayed did not reveal any fast moving unidentified targets in that area. The FAA also did not receive reports of any unusual sightings from pilots who were flying in the area Monday afternoon. Finally the FAA did not approve any commercial space launches around the area Monday.”

    No unidentified targets in the area doesn’t mean no planes, it means that all the targets on RADAR were identified.

    I hope this isn’t what people are confusing for an official statement that there were no planes in the area.

  31. Casual Observer says:

    I’ve ran your file through Google Earth several times, Uncinus, very well done. Reading the comments from the last couple of doubters that dropped by, I take it neither has ever taken eye witness statements after an auto accident or criminal act. Each party’s perspective of the event is never the same. That’s why photo’s and measurements are taken and the scene undergoes re-construction.

    Thank you again, Uncinus for a job well done!

  32. And from that statement there were “pilots flying in the area”

  33. TJ says:

    Todd wrote on 18th November

    ‘So General McInerney, Jane’s in London, and a cameraman who flies that area every day are all fooled by a contrail? Amazing that a General is “100%” certain and he has seen jets and missile launches for how long??’

    Jane’s Missile and Rockets Editor, Doug Richardson, has reversed his initial assessment. He was only analysing the edited first tape of CBS. After viewing the later tape they go with a contrail.

    Also remember that Gil Leyvas reported that he saw a similar incident on the 4th November? He called into to his station on his radio that he was seeing this thing again. There is no time given for the 4th November similar event, but UPS902, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, was making the same flight during sunset as it did on the 8th – Honolulu to Ontario, California. The question arises does Gil Leyvas still have the footage from the 4th November? Was it simply coincidence or was Gil Leyvas fooled twice by UPS902 flying the same route?

  34. TJ says:

    A further question arises on Gil Leyvas and the similar incident that he witnessed on the 4th November. Was is captured by the LAX Pacific Webcam? Was UPS902 on the 4th November creating a persistent contrail and was it captured on the Webcam? I have contacted Cargo Law a few days ago, but I have received no reply.

    Also I haven’t seen the images posted, but there are further independent images from Hermosa Beach, California. These are shot with a focal length of 20mm. Note the true perspective and also the other aircraft contrails in the sky?



  35. Do you have a link for Richardson’s new opinion?

  36. TJ says:

    Another thumbs up for Uncinus and all the hard work put in here!

    One of the major factors to take into consideration is the type of airliner that Flight UPS902 is (McDonnell Douglas MD-11). The tri-engined series of airliners, and their contrails, have caused a lot of confusion within the sky watching community.

    If the conditions are right for contrail formation the results can be quite spectacular. Look at the size of the contrail that this McDonnell Douglas MD-11 is producing in the following link? Take into consideration that is an aircraft with a 169 foot wingspan and is around 200 feet long? Note how the three engine contrails can blend and also note the vortex rings? Vortex rings can also have an effect on the contrail.



    Watch the following video from around the 0:40 point. Consider that this is the point where the MD-11 goes from producing a persistent contrail to a non-persistent contrail? Compare this to the MD-11 image link.


    As an aviation photographer I’ve witnessed many contrails that can be misinterpreted as a ballistic missile launch. As ex-military I’ve also witnessed my fair share of ballistic missile launches. The key is being able to analyse perspective. The CBS video is clearly at fault here and the way that it was presented. The full footage should have been released. It is an example of how an edited video of an MD-11 contrail can be misinterpreted by quoted experts and then hyped by the media. The result is blown out of all proportion.

    Analysis of the CBS video and how it was presented can be found at the following.


  37. TJ says:

    Uncinus wrote

    ‘Do you have a link for Richardson’s new opinion?’

    You have to pay to view the rest or the article. You only get to see 169 words of 523. Unfortunately Jane’s subscription is very expensive.


    ‘169 of 523 words

    End of non-subscriber extract’

    See at the bottom of the link

    See post #56 and #59 from poster ‘Mercurius; who has a subscription and describes the revision of the initial assessment.


  38. TheFactsMatter says:

    I find it interesting that with all the media attention about the California contrail, no one from the news has mentioned that the trail ‘couldn’t be a contrail because it doesn’t dissipate’. To a majority of the population, the debate is about whether or not this was a missile or a persistent contrail. I see very little chatter anywhere about how it can’t be a contrail because it doesn’t dissipate fast enough.

    This should be an eyeopener for the chemmies! When they watch the footage, all they believe they see is a “chemtrail” yet, these images have been broadcast around the world and the discussions aren’t about whether or not it’s a “chemtrail” or a missile, it’s about whether or not it’s a CONtrail or a missile! They must have been asking themselves why no one was referring to the trail as a “chemtrail” in the news (it’s so obvious that it’s a “chemtrail”, right!?…look how it’s not disappearing immediately!)…There is a VERY good reason for that…”chemtrails” are a hoax and a majority of the population knows a persistent contrail when they see one.

    Thank goodness…

    I have faith in humanity..someday the chemmies will learn the truth and spread it as voraciously as they spread their lies now.

  39. a majority of the population knows a persistent contrail when they see one

    I think the majority of the population does not give it any thought either way. Clearly though they are not alarmed by these long clouds.

  40. TheFactsMatter says:

    Right, they (the trails) are regarded as “normal”, but irrelevant in their lives. If the majority actually gave a shit about what they are, the majority are able to understand that they need go to legitimate sources of information. They don’t have the prejudices that the typical conspiracy theorist would have.

    One has to have a “special” kind of mind to immediately dismiss the information that experts in these fields have come to rely on as fact in favor of nonsense on conspiracy sites. I’ll never understand how some folks can believe that everyone who has studied these subjects has been brainwashed by disinformation and recruited by “them” to spread lies. It’s just so kooky when one is able to understand the true nature of the trails.

    Honestly, I would think it’d be obvious at this point, to any chemmie, that he/she are wrong about the trails in the sky. Everything they have grasped as solid evidence has been nothing more than a misunderstanding of science (and aviation). HOW are they able to reject the science when they thoroughly prove that they don’t understand it in the first place!?

    Oh well…I will continue to have hope. I can only imagine what it feels like to believe that ones family is being sprayed like bugs by their own people.

  41. Escovado says:


    Thanks again for the effort you put in to proving that this was an ordinary aircraft. Just for a future point of reference, this web page has a great explanation (with links to photos) of how contrails from a real missile appear and why:


    From the above web page:

    “Contrary to what most people think, the contrails in general do not look like they were formed from a rocket! The upper-level winds, with typical speeds around 100 mph, quickly blow the contrails into corkscrews or spirals. It takes only 5 minutes for 100 mph winds to move a given spot on the contrail 5 miles away from the rocket’s path. Since the contrails can persist for an hour, there is plenty of time for the wind to play with the contrail.

    “Further, wind direction, as well as speed, varies dramatically at different altitudes and locations. Watch weather satellite picture loops and you will often be able to see high clouds moving in different directions than the lower clouds. This change of wind direction with height causes the corkscrew shapes that always make observers think that the rocket has blown up, which it never has if you are seeing the contrail from Fallbrook! (Rockets are blown up at much lower altitudes than those which produce the contrails visible to us.) “

    A missile generally travels straight up from the ground into the sky; consequently, the contrail from a missile becomes squiggly and distorted because of the effect of the varying speed and direction of winds at different altitudes. An aircraft flies parallel to the ground; accordingly, the contrail from an aircraft is going stay relatively straight because it is blown in the same general direction at the same altitude.

    The entire contrail of the “mystery missile” was blown in a uniform direction that matched the speed and direction of the winds at the altitude jet aircraft were flying. This indicates that the contrail was emitted in a path that was parallel to the ground. It was not a missile. It was an ordinary cargo jet.

  42. Steve says:

    I think the basic problem with understanding contrails is that its not really taught in the typical science class curriculum. If grade school kids were given some basic instruction about why and how contrails form there wouldn’t be so much misunderstanding about what they are. From my own experience as a baby boomer, I don’t remember ever being given any instruction on this subject. The solution to all this fear-mongering by the “chemmies” is for responsible parents and citizens who understand contrail formation to ask their local school boards to include a contrail formation science as part of the science curriculum.
    Just saw this very interesting article on NASAs new airline design for the future:

  43. TheFactsMatter says:

    Or, they could use contrails as an example of what happens when moisture is added to an ice saturated and very cold atmosphere. If persistent contrails were specifically added to the curriculum, suspicious characters would claim it was added to condition the minds of young people to accept them as normal. Again, this hoax is designed to take advantage of the fact that very few people have studied aviation or atmospheric science. Every time theres a story like the California contrail, a new generation of chemmies is born because as soon as they google “trails in the sky” they meet up with the conspiracy version of the facts. They believe the first thing they read about the subject and will rarely accept other explanations because they don’t want to think they were wrong for believing it in the first place.

    For example…

    My 6 year old son is a solar system junkie..He loves everything about it! A few years ago he read an older book that said that Mercury is one of the PLANETS in our solar system. So, he accepted it as fact and had no reason to believe otherwise. Then he found out that in newer books that Mercury is now reclassified as a dwarf planet and he refuses to accept that information as the truth because he first learned something else. At 6 he’s unable to understand that science is constantly updated as new information comes to light.

  44. I think you mean Pluto.

  45. TheFactsMatter says:

    Oops…I wrote Mercury when it’s Pluto that was reclassified.

  46. TheFactsMatter says:

    think you mean Pluto.

    Aww man…you JUST beat me!

  47. Peer reviews works again. 🙂

  48. TheFactsMatter says:

    “Peer reviews works again. :)”

    Very well written…

    I went upstairs and told my son that I used him as an example in a forum and boy did he give me attitude for mistaking Mercury for Pluto…

    We all make mistakes. I know I sure do!

  49. Sarah Palin is a missile believer:


    GLENN: How do we press China? I mean, Sarah, I’m going to go way out on a lunatic fringe here but I’ve talked to enough people are in this missile business who say that was not an airplane contrail that we saw off the coast of California. It is my belief that that was a two‑stage missile launched by China telling, sending a signal that the world has changed. They’re dropping the dollar in their trade with Russia today. I mean, they control the world. The world has changed. We’re no longer the superpower that we were even two years ago.

    SARAH PALIN: Well, that’s right.

  50. Steve says:

    I would love to see Uncinus publish an easy to understand colorful science book on this subject designed for kids and young adults that could also help teach the likes of Glen Beck and Sarah Palin. Well informed children in the science of contrails could be a very powerful tool against the uniformed opinions of any adult. Factsmatters 6 year old proved that with his very young but confident correction about Pluto.

  51. kisara_of_pern says:

    What I want to know is why no one’s asked UPS to explain their missile experiments yet.

  52. JFDee says:


    I assume they are testing a new product, “SameDay Delivery (TM) – We Just Need Your Coordinates !”.

  53. captfitch says:

    It’s UPSs new orbital delivery service. They’re taking over for NASA on the commercial stuff.

    That’s one small step for brown, one giant leap for affordable, on time space logistics.

    “What can brown launch for you?”

  54. TheFactsMatter says:

    Ok, I see reference to Glenn Beck in the above post, but something about the long names really screws up the way it was posted….but, back to Glenn Beck! The politeness policy prevents me from posting my opinion about that man. That is all.

    Thank You.

  55. That’s a trackback ping. Something about this WordPress theme messes them up, so I usually delete them.

  56. vjack says:

    With regard to ‘what are they spraying…’ and the high levels of aluminum in the soil that were found in various locations: it is well documented that acid rain (found in many parts of the US and especially in the NW areas) can increase the amount of aluminum in the soil to toxic levels. The acid in the acid rain releases the aluminum from the stable, non-toxic aluminum hydroxide found everywhere in soil (different forms of aluminum account for over 7% of the earth’s elements). So if acid rain accounts for the increase in aluminum, and contrails are contrails, doesn’t that just about shoot down the chemtrail theory?

  57. TheFactsMatter says:

    There are a lot of things that shoot down the “chemtrail” theory…easily.

    I have to wonder what these folks do when it finally hits them that hey are wrong. I have seen only a few instances where someone has had the balls to actually admit that they once accepted the chemtrail hoax as absolute fact.

    The people who have created this “documentary” have so much invested into this now that they couldn’t possibly back track now even if they wanted to! There is NO WAY that Mr Griffin would EVER eat his words. Even if he knew for sure that “chemtrails” were 100% bullshit, he couldn’t own up to it because it would destroy his credibility. The only folks who agree with this “chemtrail” nonsense are those who are prone to accept bullshit as fact and don’t require actual evidence to support their beliefs…Like Mr Griffin seems to do on a regular basis.

    For instance, from Wiki:

    In 1974, Griffin wrote and published the book World Without Cancer,[15][16] and released it as a documentary video; its second edition appeared in 1997, and it was translated into Afrikaans, 1988, and German, 2005. In the book and the video, Griffin asserts that cancer is a metabolic disease facilitated by the insufficient dietary consumption of amygdalin, a view which has not been accepted by the majority of scientists. He contends that “eliminating cancer through a nondrug therapy has not been accepted because of the hidden economic and power agendas of those who dominate the medical establishment”[17] and he wrote, “at the very top of the world’s economic and political pyramid of power there is a grouping of financial, political, and industrial interests that, by the very nature of their goals, are the natural enemies of the nutritional approaches to health”.[18]

    Griffin also presents information about Laetrile, a semi-synthetic derivative of amygdalin. Laetrile has been used to treat cancer. Helene Brown, a past-president of the American Cancer Society of California, has stated that, “Laetrile is goddamned quackery!”[19] In response, Griffin wrote, “As early as 1974, there were at least twenty-six published papers written by well-known physicians who had used Laetrile in the treatment of their own patients and who have concluded that Laetrile is both safe and effective in the treatment of cancer”.[20]

    The author of a critical review of World Without Cancer asserts that Griffin “accepts the ‘conspiracy’ theory… that policy-makers in the medical, pharmaceutical, research and fund-raising organizations deliberately or unconsciously strive not to prevent or cure cancer in order to perpetuate their functions”. The reviewer concludes that although World Without Cancer “is an emotional plea for the unrestricted use of the Laetrile as an anti-tumor agent, the scientific evidence to justify such a policy does not appear within it”.[21]

    No matter what he believes, if it’s opposed by anyone… that simply gives him more reason to believe it as fact. Evidence doesn’t seem to be all that important to people like this. The belief is all that matters and ANY opposition only serves to strengthen their belief that there are “government shills” being paid to discredit them….as if they had any credibility to begin with! I see no reason to accept ANYTHING Mr Griffin writes, anywhere, because he has admitted that he doesn’t trust the beliefs of the scientific community because, he believes, everything they have learned is influenced by “them” (“them” being the Illuminati, the NWO and the bogyman) and is simply disinformation that we sheep accept as fact.

  58. The acid in the acid rain releases the aluminum from the stable, non-toxic aluminum hydroxide found everywhere in soil (different forms of aluminum account for over 7% of the earth’s elements). So if acid rain accounts for the increase in aluminum, and contrails are contrails, doesn’t that just about shoot down the chemtrail theory?

    Confirming Source: http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/water/aluminium/aluminum-and-water.htm

    Dissolved Al3+-ions are toxic to plants; these affect roots and decrease phosphate intake. As was mentioned above, when pH values increase aluminum dissolves. This explains the correlation between acid rains and soil aluminum concentrations. At increasing nitrate deposition the aluminum amount increases, whereas it decreases under large heather and agricultural surfaces. In forest soils it increases.

    Of course in the film they were not measuring any particular form of aluminum, so their aluminum results were meaningless anyway.

    You might better correlate increased acidity with acid rain, and hence spraying of stratospheric sulphate aerosols, another geoengineering proposal. But I don’t want to give people ideas.

  59. Anonymous says:

    And in contrast to the remarkable work of uncinus, check out this guy who says his 3D pics show the ‘missile’ going away from the coast.


  60. Alexey says:

    “And in contrast to the remarkable work of uncinus, check out this guy who says his 3D pics show the ‘missile’ going away from the coast.”

    It’s rubbish. Just swap the places of the left and right images, and they will show the ‘missile’ going toward the coast. Anyway, I have more than thirty years of experience of making and looking at stereopictures of 3D objects, and I can see no significant depth in his 3D pics.

  61. joe says:

    Intelligence from sources outside of the US suggests a terrorist launch off a freighter that completely failed.

  62. They are clearly wrong. But who are these sources?

  63. Here’s a stereopicture that Alexy sent me, with the following comment:

    I have constructed a pseudo stereo image (attached), using similar, non-interrupted by clouds sections of the Nov 8 contrail from the CBS footage (left eye view) and Rick Warren’s photo (right eye view). It clealry shows that the contrail goes horizontally toward the viewer.

    For easier view, the image should be scaled so that the distance between the centers of the panels is about 60 to 70 mm.

    I’m afraid I can’t really see it myself.

  64. tom s says:

    Why aren’t we comparing apples with apples. Where are the examples of Chinese Jin-class submarine-launched ballistic missile contrails and similar missiles, etc. I am not seeing definitive evidence though some arguments are reasonable. The jet contrail I looked at were a little wider at the origin or a little fanned, but could be similar depending on the specific angle or shot.

  65. Anonymous says:

    Interesting idea to use a pic from Warren’s and a pic from the helicopter. Should give you much more separation then just a couple seconds between helicopter shots. But, you need a stereoscope to view and mine has been ordered.

  66. Here’s an updated stereopicture from alex:

    And at viewable size:

  67. Anonymous says:

    Awesome Alex.   Fantastic work.  Can’t wait for my stereoscope to arrive.

  68. Dmitri Noi says:

    So funny that people can STILL believe it’s a missile.

    It’s the simpliest thing in the world, if it’s a missile, then that missile was lauched EVERY DAY at the same time for the last 3 years at least.

    Great job putting this black-helicopter paranoia to rest.

  69. Dick Cheney says:

    Model Americans will kindly mind your own business. The rest of you college grads can just stick that book-learnin’ in your hip pocket for a while, got it?

  70. TheFactsMatter says:

    “Model Americans will kindly mind your own business. The rest of you college grads can just stick that book-learnin’ in your hip pocket for a while, got it?”

    It’s always those who haven’t benefited from an education who can’t seem to find the value in one. What’s a “model American”?! One who goes on a witch-hunt simply because they don’t understand what they see?! Sorry, I’m a REAL American, I believe in the whole innocent until PROVEN guilty thing…..It seems that there are far too many that feel otherwise…and it’s sad.

    From what I can see, no one has proven to me that there is anything to be concerned about in regard to the trails in the sky. I’m still waiting for some actual evidence to surface, maybe through the whole wikileaks thing…but nothing has even come close to proving that the trails behind airplanes are anything to worry about.

  71. Old article, (Nov 17th) but interesting – what’s the “level of detail” that FAA doesn’t have?:


    The Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration remain convinced that the mystery plume captured on video off the coast of Los Angeles was a jet condensation trail (or “contrail”).

    FAA spokeswoman Laura J. Brown told Inside the Ring that the agency’s radar records and the lack of exact coordinates of plume prevented pinpointing the specific aircraft flight thought to have made the contrail.

    However, extensive analysis and publicly available FAA data led the website contrailscience.com to conclude the contrail was UPS Flight 902 from Honolulu to Los Angeles, Ms. Brown said.

    “We looked at all of the radar data out to about 100 miles and could not detect any unidentified fast-moving targets in the time frame the TV station indicated that they shot the footage,” she said.

    Ms. Brown said FAA did not have the level of detail used by contrailscience.com “so we did not come to any definitive conclusions about whether this was one specific flight or another.”

    What FAA can say conclusively is that “we don’t have any radar data to indicate that any other fast-moving targets were operating in that airspace besides the aircraft that we could identify and knew were there.”

    “We’re not the experts on the meteorological conditions that would lead to contrails.”

    Pentagon spokesman Dave Lapan also said the plume was a jet condensation trail. “We still believe the contrail to have been caused by an aircraft,” he said.

  72. TheFactsMatter says:

    You have every right to toot your own horn. Well done, and congrats.

  73. captfitch says:

    I think level of detail is more of a statement regarding the level of detail in any explaination they may be able to generate. I doubt they have the time or flexability to generate such a detailed report.

  74. SR1419 says:

    I agree Cap fitch- the “level of detail” was freely available…they just chose not drill down.

    I think it was more of an annoyance for them rather than a real issue or security threat…

    Just a bunch of freaked out people screaming on the internet…go figure 🙂

  75. TheFactsMatter says:

    Yes, they just want it to go away. It was an embarrassment that they didn’t jump to attention and explain it immediately. But, why should they have to explain it? it was obviously a contrail. Only the uninformed thought it to be something else. I was shocked to see how much buzz those images created. Again, it’s as if people are just starting to look up and notice these trails. I know they have always been there. It must be a regional thing.

    A lot of work went into Uncinus’s presentation.

  76. captfitch says:

    So then the question is- from now on will this site be the “go-to” source for unexplained sky activity?

    Sounds like we have representation from the mechanical side (MikeC) the pilot side (myself now that Ryan now longer really posts here) and Uncinus who is obviously good at information gathering and interpretation. Now we need an actual weather guy, an optical guy and an ATC guy among others. I know where to get the first guy and the last guy. So gather everyone together on an informal basis and offer media consulting. “Sky Interpreters Inc.” or something like that

  77. AnonymousATCO says:

    Air Traffic Controller at your service, from the Other side of the world though 🙂 Meterologist Ross Marsden posts here quite a bit hes a well known chemtrail debunker and very unpopular with the cospiracy theorists here.

  78. captfitch says:

    Perfect!! So all we need is an optics specialist. Does anyone know one?

    “Sky Busters” sounds good but it needs to sound more official. How about “Atmospheric Optic Consultants”

    But should the umbrella include anything seen in the sky or just illusions caused by contrails or cloud formations?

    The determinations could be “natural”, “man made” and “truly unknown” or something along that line that the media could easily sound bite.

  79. JFDee says:

    Regarding the video: a meteor ? There is even some audible sound.

  80. No. I’ve triangulated it, and it’s about one mile away and 1000 feet high.

  81. JFDee says:

    They are saying “There’s two – did they collide?”

    Probably a larger object, breaking up. Satellite? Space trash?

  82. JFDee says:

    No chance to catch up with you, really! 🙂

  83. Ross Marsden says:

    Checking in.
    Yup, I’ve been banned from several sites and YouTube channels for no good reason.

  84. Indigo Red says:

    UFO. Yep, no doubt about it. It’s a UFO.

  85. MikeC says:

    Unusually Fiery Object?

  86. captfitch says:

    I would call it an IFO now.

    Hey- that makes a good slogan:
    “Atmospheric Optic Consultants- taking the U out of UFO every day.”

  87. brian says:

    ok, I think I understand what I was missing in the pictures that confused me about the contrail. The plane is actually being pushed to the side with the wind too? I was thinking of the plane pointing in the direction of travel but it is actually not points that direction.

  88. Correct. The plane point in the same direction as the contrail. The plane flies relative to the air, so the movement relative to the ground can differ from the direction the plane points in.

    This is usually a shallow angle at high speed, but then looks greater due to the view angle.

    Google for some crosswind landing videos to see this effect. The pilot has to transition between air-relative and ground-relative motion, sometimes quite dramatically.

    Notice the planes in this video seem to be flying sideways. That’s because they are.


  89. captfitch says:

    But they are only flying sideways in relation to the ground. I’m splitting hairs;)

  90. Ross Marsden says:

    LOL – You’re not splitting hairs at all. On the ground is where the rest of us are observing from, so that’s what it looks like… flying sideways.

  91. exNAWStech says:

    It amazes me how so many people can be so sure what they think it was with NO evidence, other than a few retired “generals” who are looking at one, and only one chopper video, yet there is so much evidence here, they do not chose to believe! Why not ask any of the 10 million in LA that would have been completely amazed by a missile launch only 25mi offshore!…there were NONE!
    Why not ask any of the thousands of people at Catalina Island (where it was supposedly launched so close to) how unbelieveably loud it was from only a couple miles away….there were NONE!
    Here are some facts no one can deny…

    Missile trails change both in brightness and continuity as they climb from ground level to 200,000’+ as they go from twilight to full sun in a few seconds, and encounter the countless crosswinds. This trail did not. Look at real missile trails from Vandenberg.
    Missiles are LOUD!! No one heard this from nearby LA or from Catalina Island, only a couple miles from the supposed “launch site”.
    The ocean off the LA coast is FULL of maritime traffic. If that was a missile and was launched within 25mi off the coast, there would have been between 100 and 1000 vessels within 5 miles of the launch site. Find ONE person in the area that saw anything even remotely suspicious…there are NONE! Not someone who was on the other side of the country looking at a TV screen or says they know someone that is married to the cousin of someone that works in an FAA RADAR facility, there were THOUSANDS of local witnesses…all saw NOTHING!! I ask you “conspiracy theorists”….just one…only one credible person out of the thousands of very nearby witnesses that saw the launch point. There are NONE…because there was NONE!
    I have been within 2mi of the launch of a Trident….It’s frightening!! The power, noise, smoke and fire is blinding, deafening and frightening! This was….well…”pretty”.

    I will admit, at first sight of the chopper video, I was pretty sure it was a missile, but noticed a few inconsistencies with a real one ( I have seen many) and looked into it. This site has the most compelling evidence and facts available and am positive it was the UPS flight.


  92. TJ says:

    I totally agree exNAWStech. It still amazes me as to how people can still cling onto the missile theory? Some of the most die-hard believers post on the Free Republic forum.

    One thing that can be put to bed now is the case of the 10 minutes of video footage. Dr. Brian J. Kopp has interviewed Gil Leyvas (News helicopter cameraman) and Rick Warren (Photographer). It is quite clear that Gil Leyvas is confused by the short persistent contrail near the end of the footage. The video footage still exists and obviously if released would go a long way to understanding how observers can be fooled by perspective.

    You can read Dr Kopp’s interactions with Gil Leyvas at the following. Obviously the missile die hards litter the thread with their consipracy theories.


    ‘World Net Daily fabricates a “Missile” Contrail tale’

    I still feel that Gil Leyvas was confused twice by Flight UPS902, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, in the space of a week. Gil Leyvas revealed in a CBS interview that he saw something very similar on Thursady 4th November 2010.

    On that day Flight UPS902 flying a MD-11 was on the same route and time. Obviously this was before the clock change so the time is 18:05 PDT as compared to 18:02 PST. Gil doesn’t provide a time for the 4th November, but it might be very telling if it ties up with Flight UPS902 on the 4th? Was Gil Leyvas fooled twice by a persistent MD-11 contrail twice around sunset time?

    Snippet from his CBS TV interview.

    “Well, I realized that it was something that we saw earlier from the week before — we saw something very similar the past Thursday, and immediately I realized that it was something very similar, and called on the 2-way there to our assignment desk to let them know that we were seeing it again. It’s not as dramatic as the one from yesterday — the one from yesterday was pretty spectacular. Like I said, it was growing in nature and continued to fly up into the sky, and at one point it seemed to separate. The smoke or the plume seemed to stop and then continue further up in the sky and then finally disappear.”

    Interview link at following.


    UPS902 using a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 flew the same route/time on the 4th from Honolulu to Ontario, California. I wonder if Gil Leyvas still has film from 4th November as it might
    just put this whole event to rest? Was Gil filming the UPS MD-11 on 4th November?

    From 4th November – UPS902. I had to register to view so possibly the link won’t form? Details recorded have the 4th November flight arriving at Ontario (KONT) at 18:05 PDT. On the 8th November UPS902 arrived at Ontario (KONT) at 18:02 PST.



    8th November for comparison.


    I have attempted my own research into this theory by trying to obtain a copy of the webcam footage from LAX airport Pacific webcam on the 4th November. I contacted Cargo Law on the 21st November, but to date have received no reply. It would be interesting to see if UPS902 on the 4th November was producing a heavy persistent contrail similar to the LAX footage on the 8th November?

    I have suggested to Dr Kopp that he contact Gil Leyvas to see if he has any footage of the 4th November similar event or the times.

  93. Gene Kinnick says:

    Cover-up ops, replete with photos and seeming scientific data and theory is what I see here. This was no airplane contrail.

  94. Feel free to point out any mistakes!

  95. TJ says:

    What do you think is being covered up in these images from 27th December 2010?


    Remember that news helo cameraman Gil Leyvas witnessed a similar event on 4th November 2010 before filming on the 8th November. Not the first person to be fooled by an aircraft contrail at sunset and he won’t be the last.

  96. TheFactsMatter says:

    I don’t get this whole “they are blocking our view of something” take on these trails. Don’t these people understand that a mile or two in ANY direction will change their perspective?! “They” would have to spray EVERY inch of the atmosphere to stop everyone on the planet from seeing something in space.

    It’s not a very well thought out claim. In fact, it’s quite silly.

  97. dz says:


    I just want to commend you for all the exemplary work you did into putting this together and making your case on the L.A. “missile”. It certainly convinced me.

    To be honest, when I first heard the military’s “aircraft contrail” explanation, I took it with a grain of salt. Not that I thought that there was some conspiracy, but that maybe it was standard military protocol to explain it away in this manner in order to not panic the public. I first came across your website when seeking further information on the L.A. “missile”. Your use of photos and other visual aids was extremely helpful in showing me that this was a “perspective” problem.

    It was later that I discovered that your site was mainly dedicated to the “chemtrail” issue.
    As an aviation meteorologist, I’ve had to deal with this question a fair amount in recent years and I’m glad I came across your very informative site.

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