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. Steve says:

    New missile attack, everyone into the bomb shelters.

  2. That looks even less like a missile than the last one. It’s just a plane that happend to go directly overhead and left a long contrail.

  3. Steve says:

    Really large chemtrail producing missile set to launch right in Uncinus backyard tomorrow Jan.20 @ 1:08 pst.

  4. edkaczone says:

    Excellent job identifying the aircraft that created the contrail.
    Comments sadly show many people are simply unable to process detailed information and come to a conclusion based on that data.

  5. Stupid says:

    It is also surprising how many people believe in an idea, without first understanding the principles of the idea, the history of the idea, or the implications of the idea, or attempt an effort to tackle any of the previous.
    …ok, it doesn’t surprise me.

  6. Another Florida Resident says:

    Late, I know. But I came across this and was interested by another post. I too grew up on the Space Coast. I did my stint in a fighter squadron. Afterwards, I worked in the defense industry (some of the time back at the Space Coast). I have seen LOTS of missile launches and plenty more aircraft launches.

    It certainly is possible that this was an aircraft contrail, but not very likely in my opinion. You really have to make it a stretch to match this to an aircraft. There are only a few aircraft that will result in a contrail even remotely like that one.

    This is a case where the skeptic crowd was way off. While I could argue either direction on this, the fact remains that the missile launch explanation requires the least assumptions. I will keep my opinion open on this, but in a pinch, I will put this one in the missile launch category if for no other reason than Occam’s Razor.

    What I do have to wonder is *why* they did this. It clearly represented a provocation, in conjunction with the ABS tests near Japan a few weeks prior. I simply do not see the point. I do find it interesting that it would have originated from the sea, however.

    What many people failed to understand was that every ICBM test is launched from that same location. If it happened anywhere else, I would gravitate more towards a highly unlikely freak atmospheric effect that makes an aircraft contrail look exactly like a missile launch. But not in this case.

  7. captfitch says:

    Occams Razor points you toward a missile launch off the coast of the one of the most populated areas of the world? In daylight? By a secret government operation either US or otherwise?

    If I hear hooves I think horse unless I was in Central Africa- then I would think Zebra.

    Plus- I’m certain that Uncinus has tied this particular trail to a very specific aircraft.

  8. Ross Marsden says:

    meaning a specific flight that matched the photos and video in time and space.

  9. SR1419 says:

    Funny…Its seems Uncinus- or at least ContrailScience.com was actually mentioned by one Mr. Hilder…classic stuff…

    Alas, it seems as if he has neglected to post here:


    do we know who Mr. Wright is?

  10. I don’t know who is is, but he did a very good job of explaining things.

    (Actually I do know one Mr Wright, chemtrail skeptic, but I’m not sure if it’s the same person).

  11. It’s interesting watching that, as Hilder actually seems to be hearing Wright’s information for the first time (like with the seasonality of contrails in SoCal, an the photos of barrels). Was he actually learning and taking it in – he seemed to somewhat understand it by the way he repeated it – but was he learning, or mocking?

  12. captfitch says:

    No- Hilder is clearly mocking Mr. Wright.

  13. I guess that’s what I’d say, but it’s hard to be sure. With something like the barrels it’s indisputable what those photos show if you’d actually looked into it. But clearly Hilder had not looked into it at that point – so he’s probably thinking “what a ridiculous idea – barrels of water to test a plane!” Which is basically what he says.

    I wonder how he’d react if someone took him up in a test plane and showed him how it worked in detail? He’d probably just think it was an elaborately staged con.

  14. captfitch says:

    Possibly but he’s still a human. Even if he didn’t want to he would be influenced by that experience. Maybe it would plant a seed in him. After all, he formed this hypothesis based on what he observed- maybe some new, detailed observations would serve him well.

  15. Steve says:

    I have to confess that the guy in the video is me. It was shot outside the LA showing of WITWATS as I was passing out Micks article about WITWATS to the people going in.

  16. I thought it might be you Steve.

    What was your impression of how Hilder took your info?

  17. Steve says:

    I think the information I gave him was completely new to him. He impressed me as someone who was just acting in character who had to play some type of role of being incredulous of even the simplest explanation. This is the first time that I have seen this video so it’s a little strange to have to look at myself explaining these things. Hilder wanted me to debate Stuart who was one of the WACLA reporters in WITWATS but Stuart declined because he knew I had too much info on the scam test results that were in the film. I’m surprise that Hilder even made this video considering I was interviewed for two hrs by MJM for WITWATS and not a single frame of my explaination of what contrails are was shown in his film.

  18. Jay Reynolds says:

    Michael J. Murphy recorded debunking for two hours and never put any of it in the film.
    He made a choice.

  19. Randall says:

    I witnessed the event in person. I have seen a missile launch at Vandenburg and Cape Canaveral.
    There is no questions WHATSOEVER that this was a missile. A bright persistent fire could
    be seen at the tail that burned continuously for minutes. I have NEVER seen a glint from an airliner
    that continued uninterrupted for minutes.


    Where did this domain contrailscience.com come from? I am going to visit the location on Olympic Blvd.
    in L.A. to see what kind of front this is. Contrailscience.com? Really?

    Randall Bramstedt

  20. Randall says:

    Editors of Janes Missiles and Rockets have already identified this object as a MISSILE.

    This is the weirdest web site. It popped up out of nowhere.

  21. Hi Randall, contrailscience.com has been around for six years. I’m Mick West, and this is my web site. It’s just a hobby I have, debunking things.

    It’s really not a missile. Did you read all of this post? Could you say what is wrong with it exactly? Particularly there’s the issue of the radar track matching the images, there’s a video demonstrating it.

    I know it can be a bit hard to visualize though, with the extreme scale confusing things.

  22. MyMatesBrainwashed says:


    Exaggerate much?

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