Mystery “missile launch” off California – solved?

UPDATE: Contrail Science writes:

Note to the media – since this was almost certainly Flight AWE808 (US Airways) from Hawaii to Phoenix, why not have a camera crew somewhere in the vicinity (does not need to be exact, or a chopper), at around 5-5:30 today, and if the weather is right you’ll see the same trail again.

Here’s the flight path below for 11/8/10. If anybody gets any new photos today, leave a comment and I’ll get them posted here.

My friend John Coleman (The Weather Channel founder, now at KUSI-TV San Diego)  explains it well in this video:

(starts at 45 seconds in)

Original post starts below:

There’s quite a buzz in the blogosphere about this video shot by a KCBS News helicopter. Explanations range from “Moonbeam Gov. Jerry Brown is headed home to visit relatives” to “missile launch kept secret by the Pentagon”.

Whatever it is, I’ve seen nothing like it. The speed doesn’t match a missile, but the trajectory and cloud pattern certainly seems to. Perhaps our readers can help figure this out. One alert reader “slp” posted in comments a link to a likely Occams Razor style explanation.

watch the video:

For people outside the USA that may not be able to see the first video, try this one:

For reference, here’s a certified missile shot from the Air Force Space Command:

I’m wondering if this isn’t some stunt plane practicing over the ocean (where the pilot doesn’t have to worry about buildings, power lines, towers, guy wires, FAA airspace permissions, etc.) with a smoke generator turned on? Watch this video from about 15-20 seconds in. That looks like what the “missile” video is. Add some red sunset lighting and you’ve got instant “slow moving missile”.

UPDATE: Thanks to alert reader “slp” who wrote: “Likely a contrail:”

Indeed it looks very much like this jet contrail seen off San Clemente, from Contrail Science Overflow, excerpted below:

Jet contrails from some angles look like missile trails

An interesting contrail cropped up off the coast of San Clemente, Orange County, California on December 31st 2009. The curious shape led some people to think it’s a missile launch, which it does kind of look like (all taken from San Clemente)

“Missile-like” contrail. Note this is the Dec 31st contrail, not the Nov 8th CBS one. That’s at the bottom of the post.

This view is from Corona del Mar, about 20 miles Northeast of San Clemente:

Here’s a similar photo (of a different contrail, obviously) on the same day at the other side of the country:

Not a missile launch.

Here’s the idea with math:

The idea that it’s a missile launch comes from three misconceptions. Firstly that the trail is vertical – it’s not, it’s a horizontal trail, at around 32,000 feet (about six miles). It’s the same as this:

This contrail is no more vertical than the road is, and nor are the power lines at 45 degrees. Everything is horizontal – it’s the just the angle you are viewing it from. All of these show horizontal contrails.

Secondly there’s the misconception of direction, that it’s flying away from the viewer, when it’s actually flying towards the viewer. This is because the “base” of the contrail seems wider than the tip. Perspective tells the brain that this mean the base is closer. But actually you can see the base has been greatly spread by the wind. Since it’s still so far away the effects of perspective are greatly diminished, meaning the actual width of the contrail is what is creating the illusion. Imagine is a plane with a 100 mile long spreading contrail were coming towards you; what would it look like? It would look exactly like this.

Thirdly there’s the idea that it goes all the way down to the ground. Now that might be true if the Earth was flat, but the Earth is round, and things go beneath the horizon eventually, no matter how high they are. A plane 200 miles away but five miles up is always below the horizon. If the horizon is raised (as it is here, with Catalina Island), then the distance is less. Here’s some math:

This diagram is not to scale, but the math is the same regardless. The solid curved line is the surface of the earth. The dot at the top is San Clemente. The little triangle is Catalina. “d” is the distance to Catalina (d=35 miles). “c” the amount of Catalina that is visible above the horizon (c=0.05 miles, really a bit more, but let’s be conservative). “a” is the altitude of the plane, (a = 6 miles). “r” is the radius of the earth (r=3963 miles).

The green wavy line is the contrail. Notice it’s at a fixed height above the surface of the earth, and is going directly towards the OC.

The point labeled (0,0) is the center of the earth. (0,0) means X=0, Y=0, where X is horizontal and Y is vertical. What we want to know is how far away the plane is, the value x. We do this with cartesian geometry, noting that the lowest visible point of the trail is at the intersection of the dotted line, which is a circle of radius (r+a), hence the equation x^2 + y^2 = (r+a)^2 and the line labeled “sight line”, which is has the equation y=x*c/d. Combining these equations to solve for x yields a quadratic equation, which we can solve with Wolfram Alpha:

intersection of (y=r+x*c/d) and (x^2+y^2 = (r+a)^2)

and with the real numbers:

intersection of (y=r+x*c/d) and (x^2+y^2 = (r+a)^2) where a=6 and d=35 and c=0.05 and r=3963

Which gives x = 212, meaning that the bottom of the contrail is around 200 miles away. So if the front of the contrail (the actual aircraft) is somewhere above and behind catalina, then that means the contrail is over 100 miles long. At 500 mph, that means it could have formed in 12-15 minutes, which seems consistent with the descriptions in the discussion above. (feel free to play around with the numbers there to see the affect of various assumptions)

Full post here: Jet contrails from some angles look like missile trails

About these ads

270 thoughts on “Mystery “missile launch” off California – solved?

  1. For the love of allah can you not post a video that is available outside of the US…please?

    Im curious as to what you buggers in the states are looking at!

    Regards

    Mailman

  2. OK that is odd I get “This video isn’t available in your country” here in Australia? Cover up :D

    Sounds like a mystery for Scooby Doo and the gang

  3. CBS seem to be letting foreigners see this (the video player launches a second after the page is loaded). The commentary and speculation seem a little excessive.

  4. To slow for a missile–the spreading of the contrail toward the bottom wouldn’t be that great in such a short time with a missile launched from the water out there–plus the ‘base’ is illuminated, making me think that section of contrail is higher than one would initially think. Sunset over the ocean can play all sorts of tricks. Wouldn’t be surprised if it was a high flying (over 35Kft) aircraft coming in from the Pacific. The trajectory would look like it was going up, when in fact it was holding altitude.

  5. The speed and trajectory of the “object” seen on the BBC clip (all other clips being unavailable on You-tube) would suggest that an exuberant pilot was really having fun. The lighting at that time simply made things equally exciting for land-based viewers.
    Wish I’d seen it myself!

  6. Those outside the US can try this clip:

    As it is so (apparently) low to start with, this cannot be a commercial aircraft contrailing. And I am not sure that it is quite so ‘slow’ as you might think, as it is going directly away from us.

    I would suggest something like Virgin Atlantic-Galactic rocket. Their solid-fuel engine is powered by rubber, and does indeed put out a great deal of smoke like this.

    California is now the gold-rush state for private rocketeers, so there are many groups out there looking to be the first into space.

    .

  7. I can’t see the video either, but I am sure it is a contrail just after sunset.
    Short contrails, painted orange by the setting sun is often reported as UFOs.

  8. Passenger jets don’t have glowing exhausts between their bodies and the contrail.

    REPLY: But nice shiny aluminum jet bodies do catch and reflect the setting sun well, looking brighter than the sky when the sun is below the horizon.- Anthony

  9. It appears to be a mysterious sign from heaven, or a writing in the clouds, that we need about 200 more Navy Ships to watch our coastal waters, esp. along our continental shelves where extremely quiet deisel subs from hostile nations could be cruising.

  10. First thought was contrail. Looks like rocket headed west. But, it looks like a contrail headed east, too.

  11. Yes, it is probably a contrail. With a missile launch, you get contrails going various directions at the higher altitudes due to varying wind directions at those altitudes.

  12. Opening salvo in the long expected war between Atlantis V California.

    I’ve got my £100 on the new governor having flippers and kissing fish. Long live Atlantis and death to my book maker.

    (statistically it could just be true – ask Senator Mann)

  13. A missile launch trail after sunset would get much brighter at the top as the missile ascends into full sunlight. I have seen many missile launches after sunset here in Orange County. This one got darker with time, consistent with an aircraft heading east after sunset.

  14. Anthony,

    This was not a contrail from a plane although the angles aren’t proof. Besides the fact that you can clearly see the engines glow, this was actually a solid fuel booster. The keys are the density of the smoke – not water vapor- and the width. Were it vapor, we would know because the ‘smoke’ would form well behind the rocket because the stuff would need to cool before condensing. Also, visual trail width cues can be taken from the size of the billowing lumps in the trail.

    From my perspective, this thing went straight up through some very high clouds in a fully guided fashion. The amount of fuel to create such a large width smoke trail and brightness combined with the burn time, preclude anything but at least a major suborbital rocket. Norad cannot miss these sorts of events the radar is too sensitive, they were fully aware of it the moment it happened. The fact that it appeared to make some sorts of subtle looking yet likely severe course corrections means that a sophisticated guidance system.

    My aero eng view is that someone is hiding the incline.

    REPLY: I think the “glow” was sunlight reflecting off the fuselage. With the sun below the horizon, an object like an aluminum aircraft body would be a bright object because it is high enough to still catch the sun’s direct light. – Anthony

  15. It’s Kirk being shot off in secret by Branson in the Enterprise. Look close, you can see him thru the porthole.

  16. [edit]
    Anthony,

    This was not a contrail from a plane although the angles aren’t proof. Besides the fact that you can clearly see the engines glow, this was actually a solid fuel booster. The keys are the density of the smoke – not water vapor- and the width. Were it vapor, we would know because the ‘smoke’ would form well behind the rocket because the stuff would need to cool before condensing. Also, visual trail width cues can be taken from the size of the billowing lumps in the trail.

    From my perspective, this thing went straight up through some very high clouds in a fully guided fashion. The amount of fuel to create such a large width smoke trail and brightness combined with the burn time, preclude anything but at least a major suborbital rocket. Norad cannot miss these sorts of events the radar is too sensitive, they were fully aware of it the moment it happened. The fact that it appeared to make some sorts of subtle looking yet likely severe course corrections means that it had a sophisticated guidance system.

    My aero eng view is that someone is hiding the incline.

    REPLY: But how do you explain the lack of speed? Sorry, I’m skeptical ;-) – Anthony

  17. Question: Why were none of the other jets flying that day producing such as wide and dense trails as the one shown?
    .
    And wouldn’t that trail be produced by a ship?

    At least that’s what was said in blog entries this past year, one of them being about such trails in the sky over the gulf of Alaska, and another set just off California.

    So what’s it to be? Ship trails or big, fat, thick, never dissipating contrails? Enquiring minds want to know!

    In any case, normal contrails consist largely of water vapor, itself which forms several tens of feet behind the tail end of the jet itself, and which DO NOT spread over many thousands of feet of sky, whilst maintaining an opacity.

    Rather, they rapidly thin out, and in doing so they become translucent and finally transparent. But they DO NOT spread out over THOUSANDS of feet of sky, whilst maintaining opacity.

  18. It appears this object was launched from land

    REPLY: Sorry, unconvincing. How can one determine the direction of travel from a single static photo? – Anthony

  19. I have seen many launches in Florida, and what distinguishes them is the icy cloud where they penetrate into space. It doesn’t look like anything else you ever see. I don’t see anything like that here.

  20. Having worked at WSMR and seen many missile launches over the years, that video was a rather large missile moving away from the observer. And yes, I have also seen missile launches from Vandengerg AFB, which would look simular, but this was too close to Los Angeles.

    The video on YouTube is much better than the one being shown on Fox News, since you can see it in reference to another helicopter. Since LAX would have the radar track of the hellicopter which obtained the video, it should be rather easy to triangulate with the known surface objects visible and obtain a calibrated direction.

    As meteorologists, you can also see how the exhaust plume was distorted by a wind shear, as it passed though the cloud layer.

    Most interesting…

  21. Much as I’d prefer a reality what that was a private company doing an unannounced moonshot, looks like a contrail to me too :(

  22. As for the MODIS image:

    Sorry, but the missile video was obtained at sunset and the terminator can not seen in the satellite image with the visible wavelengths. If it was sunset, then California was already dark.

    Sorry, but wrong time of the day for that satellite.

  23. It changed course at one point, so definitely not a rocket.
    Perhaps Moonbeam Brown bumped the steering wheel.

  24. This will be part of the next argument… climate change will increase the impression of contrails looking like missile trails… it will make our lives miserable and always remind us that somebody somewhere is out to get us… please give us more money so we can study this new phenomenon… sent it all to Penn state University! We need to know if tree rings are affected by this.

  25. Anthony,

    The lack of speed comes from the weight of the missile. This was no minor event.

    You cannot attribute a glowing light atop a smoke contrail to planes but what may do it for you is the altitude based shift in the smoke trail from some of the after still photos. You know about atmosphere flows in layers far more than I, so you should be able to identify them.

    When the shuttle launched years ago, there are some neat photos of midsections shifting sideways from the main trail. Vertical motion is required to generate that effect.

    I’m quite certain that this was a major launch of a solid rocket.

  26. I’m still on the fence with this one. It could be either a smoke plume from an outgoing rocket or a contrail from an incoming aircraft. The lighting is more consistent with a contrail as mentioned earlier, as the older portion of the trail is more brightly lit and hence more likely at higher altitude or farther west. The “flames” could also be just a reflection off the aircraft.

    However, some of the zoomed in video shots of the plume near the source show how rapidly the cloud is forming and expanding. Camera angles can make things look different but whatever the source of the plume was, it was really pumping it out. Big jets pump out a lot of water vapor but it just doesn’t look right. I guess if the aircraft was coming head-on, heavy, at a high power setting…. It just doesn’t look like water vapor to me. It looks like a smoke trail. Just tough to tell with the lighting. You’d think someone in an aircraft or boat would have a better view if it were a missile and would have told someone about it.

    On the flip side, all the stories I’ve seen on the contrail theory point to the same website, where someone has posted pictures of other contrails that kinda sorta look like the same thing. Not quite hard evidence.

    If it’s not a contrail, someone has a lot of ‘splaining to do. The alternatives are nearly all really bad. The odds of the Navy not knowing about the launch are almost zero. If it were a sub-launched ICBM they’d have picked it up on passive sonar even if they weren’t actively tracking the boat. They’d have the perp located already. The Air Force would have picked it up with the ballistic missile defense system radars, assuming they are active, since they are supposedly protecting us from rogue North Korean missiles. I just can’t see a scenario where they wouldn’t have picked it up almost immediately on radar.

    The thing that makes me a little nervous is that none of those safeguards work if you don’t use them. If the radars aren’t looking and the sonars aren’t listening, they don’t do much good. The best conspiracy theory would be a Chinese boomer performing a launch “test” in international waters off of L.A. They picked the absolute best time and place to do it if you want many, many people to notice it. The timing is interesting, also, in that the Fed just watered down the dollar yet again, which makes all those Chinese-owned bonds worth quite a bit less. They can’t be happy with that.

    I’m still leaning towards the contrail solution, if only because of the lack of response by the DoD and the lack of eye-witness interviews from airline passengers coming into LAX. I think it looks more like a rocket launch but there would be more evidence leaking out if it were a missile. I guess time will tell. Personally I think the Lizard People are behind it ;-).

  27. Had other high flying aircraft been in the area we would have some comparison. I suspect high altitude flights were not producing contrails due the current atmospheric conditions, therefore it would appear to be a heavy solid rocket booster launched to the west, thus the contrail of smoke and lack of apparent speed relative to an observor to the east. Because is was heavy, recall the liquid fueled Saturn V left the ground somewhat slow compared to the space shuttle with its solid rocket jump and plenty of smoke and water vapor. Either way, it is a great shot.

  28. Has anyone called the local airport to identify what flight it was? With the observed time and a triangulated location it should be pretty easy to nail down the flight and put the conspiracy theorists collective “minds” at ease.

  29. Jeff Id:

    I wish we could obtain the full video without being edited, but from the few seconds available on the YouTube version, the missile does seem to slow down as expected.

    Let me explain that a little better:

    With a flat trajectory like an aircraft, the angular change over time will be slow at a distance and will appear to speed up as it gets closer. Simple geometry, since the angles will change much more rapidly the closer the object is to you.

    With something like a satellite is viewed at night, the angles over time are almost constant and the difference is very different from an aircraft. With training, you can tell the difference between a satellite and an aircraft in a matter of seconds, simply by observing the change of angles over time.

    With a missile moving away from the observer, then angles change rapidly at first, but as it grains altitude and distance, the angular changes will appear to slow down.

    The second clue that the object was moving away from the observer, is that the detailed structure of the exhaust plume become harder to see. With an aircraft getting closer, the details would increase.

    The third clue was the distortion of the exhaust plume as it passed through different wind shears at it gained altitude. Most notible to me was the wind shear at the cloud layer.

    Anyway, I wish we could obtained a better version of the original video, so that the angles over time could be measured and plotted.

  30. Anthony and all:

    You do realize that San Clemente Island just SW of Santa Catalina is home to a US Rocket test facility and is also where US Navy ships go to do live fire exercises?

    As to speed: Tomahawk Cruise Missiles fly at the same speed as an airplane.

    The BGM-109 Tomahawk is a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile.

    The exhaust plume looks just like that from a ship launched Tomahawk launch:

    http://www.life.com/image/1869885

    Now if the Navy fired off a Tomahawk that went awry due to something wrong with guidance system, that is system wide, that is something the Pentagon is NOT going to fess up to since the Tomahawk is the Navy’s main weapon now. So since it got caught on tape you get the “it’s a plane, nothing to see here move along”.

    Also do you honestly think that any plane can fly within 35 miles of LA and NOT be on the LAX and military’s radar in this post 9/11 world? If you do I got some bottom land for sale for you, just don’t ask what it is on the bottom of. Remember that was filmed yesterday, not today, if it had been a plane LAX would have known about it as well as the US military yesterday and we wouldn’t have this mad scramble for an excuse. Also notice the Pentagon latched onto the plane excuse after some so called “debunking group” proclaimed it, they didn’t come up with it themselves.

  31. Spanking my hand for not spell checking, but I was trying to study the video and explain what I was seeing.

    Anyway, the change in angles over time is the important clue to this video.

    Sorry….

  32. Does anybody have the exact time and location of the helicopter that took the video.

    At 5:10PM Alaska Airlines flight 225 from Cabo San Lucas to SFO passed through the area at 34,000′ while an AS-350 Astar helicopter was hovering over near Rancho Palo Verdes.

    I got the above info from a program that is designed to let airport neighbors determine the culprit when they are awakened at 2AM by a noisy jet.

    http://www331.webtrak-lochard.com/webtrak/lax4

  33. Unfortunately, I think people are getting dumber over time. They can be made to believe contrails are secret missile launches and that trace gases can affect tropospheric temperatures.

    Or has it always been this way?

    What’s next? Are we going to bring the dunking chairs out of storage and test suspected witches again, debating about how long a suspected witch must be kept submerged for the test to be valid (using complicated statistics this time)?

    I can see it now; “The Journal of Applied Witch-testing” peer-reviewed and all….

  34. Well, I must wade in. The lack of speed suggests slow motion and/or direction of line of site. I am not impressed that it is a rocket.

  35. … couple all this with, apparent lack of RADAR imagery from the air traffic control RADARs in the area, lack of reports from surface vessels (ships, pleasure boats, kayaks) out on the water reporting a ‘missile’.

    The only report we have – the traffic copter video … for which the aircraft contrail explanation more than satisfies … see:

    http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AWE808/history/20101108/1955Z/PHNL/KPHX

    – for the likely flight (US Airways #808 > 08-Nov-2010 > PHNL-KPHX passing overhead just to the south of the Los Angeles area en route to Phoenix from Honolulu).

    (Full Credit: others than myself.)

    .

  36. A Notam was put out for that area for 20:00 yesterday.

    NOTAM for LA. KZLA LOS ANGELES A2832/10 – THE FOLLOWING RESTRICTIONS ARE REQUIRED DUE TO NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION ACTIVATION OF W537. IN THE INTEREST OF SAFETY, ALL NON-PARTICIPATING PILOTS ARE ADVISED TO AVOID W537. IFR TRAFFIC UNDER ATC JURISDICTION SHOULD ANTICIPATE CLEARANCE AROUND W537 AND CAE 1176. CAE 1155 WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION. CAE 1316 & CAE 1318 WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION. CAE 1177 WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION. W537 ACTIVE, CAE 1176 CLOSED. SURFACE – FL390, 09 NOV 20:00 2010 UNTIL 10 NOV 01:00 2010. CREATED: 08 NOV 20:52 2010

    Was the notam for ASW ops?
    I hope our response time isn’t that slow!

    Missles do change course. And they don’t look like they’re going very fast once they pitch over.

    It’s interesting that NORAD said the the US was not threatened by the missle, vs. we have no indication that a missle was launched. With all the sensors they have, you would think they would know immediately.

    If it was indeed a missle, it’s hard for me to imagine that we (the US) would send one off in the general direction of where the President is staying.

    But 35 miles off the coast would be one hell of shot across the bow if it were foreign.

  37. JG says:
    November 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    That part of the Navy doesn’t deal with ASW exercises they deal in Weapons development:

    The Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD) is an organization within the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), dedicated to maintaining a center of excellence in weapons development for the Department of the Navy (DoN). NAWCWD has two locations in sunny Southern California; China Lake hosting the land test range and Point Mugu hosting the sea test range.

    http://www.navair.navy.mil/nawcwd/nawcwd/about/index.html

    So if they sent out a NOTAM they were doing a weapons test in that area

  38. Anthony,

    Your point about light on a fuselage is reasonable, but the size of the contrail directly behind the light is far too wide.

    The shape of a rockets plume is also a good indicator of the heat expelled. Planes accelerate air with the burning of fuel. They typically have narrow contrails and a gap between the engines and the trail. For the trail to be this wide directly behind the vehicle, you need a rapid expansion of a lot of hot gasses, planes just don’t do that. Even an F18 has a high bypass ratio, with most of the air passing unburned through the engine.

    This was a rocket.

  39. If its just a contrail then how is the spiraling of the plume explained? Rockets have fins and can produce a twisting plume. Contrails cannot be twisted (corkscrewed.)

    Furthermore, if it was just a contrail of a airliner coming towards LA on the way to Phoenix then it would have eventually crossed the coast over the heads of the very people who were positioned at the perfect angle to produce an optical illusion of a missile launch. Obviously, this didn’t happen. So we can discount that theory.

    From Unicus’ detailed explanation of the well understood contrail illusion it seems likely this kind of illusion must occur in the LA region with many thousands of jets coming and going daily all the time. Why has this one instance fooled everyone from NORAD on down?

    Maybe because it’s not a contrail. I’m with Jeff Id on this one.

  40. TFB:
    “the full bull”

    the art of riding…
    for eight seconds at least,
    a lie so large that it fills our imagination and takes us on the ride of our lives…

    only to throw us in the dirt of realization and the pain of reality.

    It was NOT a weather balloon
    It was NOT a curious form of lightning
    It was NOT a contrail of a fancy smoking plane
    It was NOT methane gas burning off of the arctic

    It may have been a missle fired by us
    It may have been a missle fired by them

    But it was a missle
    do not fall for TFB

  41. That NOTAM is for TODAY(Nov.9). It was created yesterday(Nov.8), a few hours after the contrail was videotaped. Don’t worry, you’re not the first to repost this without actually reading it first. I’ve seen this posted in numerous places.

  42. It certainly looks like a missile launch – from some vantage points it seems as though the missile is visible. Large missiles do not accelerate like smaller missiles, it takes them time to build up speed and you can almost make out what appear to be course adjustments characteristic of missiles in the trail itself.

    I’m no expert and Anthony does make valid points with good examples but I am leaning towards it being a missile based on the video evidence and lack of explanation from any official sources. If it was an aircraft doing something routine (given the current international attention) someone would have said something by now. If it was easily excused, the Pentagon would have some solid answers – not having them makes them look bad. Hopefully other footage from maybe a vessel at sea closer to the event will materialize at some point. I am surprised to only see one video of this event.

    What has surprised me is the lack of mainstream coverage. Maybe a Chinese Boomer launched an ICBM to demonstrate its power and our vulnerability in the wake of Bernanke’s $600 billion dollar currency tax (which they will bear the brunt of along with the few US savers) and an escalation of international tensions. Then again, maybe it’s just a fluke – but flukes of this magnitude should not be allowed to go unexplained for hours, let alone days.

    Hopefully it was a plane but if it was a missile I’m afraid we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the months and years to come. How long (hypothetically) would Los Angeles have had? 5 minutes? 10?

  43. There is no mystery here. Obama is trying to sneak back in to US. It suppose to happen after dark, but they’ve forgot that on last weekend clock should be set back by one hour. :-)

    P.S. The funniest thing has happened when I’ve tried to run this post through spell check. The “ABC” does not recognise Obama and suggest “Osama” :-), :-)

  44. My take: not an aircraft, as none of the required lights are visible: the left wing navigation light would be red while the right wing light would be green, so that anyone can tell which direction the aircraft is heading in by sight at all times. Taillight would be white, and show above the other two. There would also be two ‘flashing’ red anti-collision beacon lights in operation, as well as the presence of small, flashing white high-intensity strobe lights at each wingtip (though possibly more, on the trailing edge of a jumbo jetliner).

    None of these other lights were visible, though they should easily be on any commercial aircraft — and whatever this was, it was large (definitely not a crop duster or skywriter).

    And correct, the apparent ‘slow motion’ of the lift would be due to a massive device overcoming both it’s own considerable rest energy (inertia) AND gravity… though a rocket or missile — many of which are navigable — would definitely tend to accelerate as it gained altitude, which this one also appears to do.

    I say it’s a launch of some sort, and a big launch, not even necessarily OURS (which could explain the official silence!!) — so this is obviously classified, for whatever reason.

  45. This entirely appears to be a submarine launched ballistic missile tilting towards a probable splash down in the South Pacific. It is clearly traveling faster than a jet fighter and you can see from the cloud cover at nearly 40,000 feet it punched right thru that ceiling level. Seeing the cloud cover as the X axis, the missile is clearly traveling in a just off Y axis as it powers over to a South Pacific splashdown.

    Contrails, what BS! Might as well spew Swamp Gas or merely a Weather Balloon! Another clue this was not the contrail from any jet fighter nor commercial jet is the distance between the object and the contrail. On Jet’s the contrails are no less than the full aircraft formed behind it, with a missile it is LARGER and formed right at the nozzle spewing the noxious fuel mixture out into the atmosphere.

    This is some type of large ballistic missile which was launched by a USSN ballistic submarine a mere 35 miles off California’s most populated county (LA County). Nice of the US Military Complex to fan the flames of FEAR and PARANOIA, how original!

    [snip]

  46. It is an aircraft contrail. Missiles ascend rapidly and cross multiple layers where winds are in different directions – you’ll see multiple S’s in the plume. I’ve seen many when I lived in the area. Additionally, there’s only one report from one vantage point (the helicopter) as far as I can find. That means from other perspectives the contrail does not appear to be anything other than a contrail. The aircraft that made the contrail will be along the azimuth that the helicopter was filming, but it could be many miles in the distance. Seriously, fly long enough and you will see contrails that appear to be missile launches, and in a few minutes your eyes will snap to a new perspective and what you thought was a missile is actually a contrail. Wait for NORAD’s final report.

  47. Could it be this simple – the Navy fired a missile for training but didn’t feel the need to let anyone know because…well, because the Navy simply isn’t in the habit of talking about their missile operations with the general public and they’re not about to now? It is heading for the Kwajalein Atoll, a standard test, perhaps a qualification test of either a new submarine system or updates to the Trident II. Perhaps some atmospheric conditions allowed us to see what normally happens when we’re blissfully going through our day? Occams Razor and all?

  48. Airliner contrail.

    KCBS News helicopter must have noticed it and jumped to a headline-grabbing conclusion.
    David Y (November 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm ) sums it up nicely.

  49. I don’t have any knowledge of what happened, but if it was a rocket, it should have left a radar trail on the LAX and other southern California airport radars. The military facilities in Long Beach, Camp Pendleton, San Diego and elsewhere should also have had their radar turned on, as well as naval ships in the area.

    Does anyone know if it was visible on radar?? Were there any visual sightings from aircraft in the area??

    This site has a discussion of optical illusion geometry

    http://uncinus.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/4/

  50. “Also do you honestly think that any plane can fly within 35 miles of LA and NOT be on the LAX and military’s radar in this post 9/11 world?”

    That would be on a number of tower radars, shipboard radars, and probably more than one satellite. It’s about 3 minutes (sub-sonic) away from a number of military bases and civilian airports. You betcha it was noticed.

    It isn’t international water by a longshot there either. Someone said something about a Chinese boomer making a statement in international water. That close to big U.S. military bases and civilian population centers would be a very very aggressive statement.

  51. Homemade rocket-powered plane launched from a boat?

    By an inventive entrepreneur trying to catch up to Virgin Galactic?

    Or bored engineering students trying to challenge themselves?

    ABC News (US) had on an “expert” who was saying it might have been a covert ICBM test, launched from a submarine. A “show of force” while President Obama is on his Asia tour. Sure, why not show Iran, North Korea, and China just how tough the US still is! ☺

  52. OT:
    Thinning ozone could be leaving whales sunburned
    By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press Writer Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press Writer – Tue Nov 9, 7:08 pm ET
    LONDON – The thinning ozone layer could be leaving the world’s whales scarred from severe sunburn, experts said Wednesday.

    A study of whales in the Gulf of California over the past few years shows that the sea-going mammals carry blisters and other damage typically associated with the skin damage that humans suffer from exposure to the ultraviolet radiation. That makes it yet another threat for the already endangered animals to worry about.

    Whales would be particularly vulnerable to sunburn in part because they need to spend extended periods of time on the ocean’s surface to breathe, socialize, and feed their young. Since they don’t have fur or feathers, that effectively means they sunbathe naked. (…)

    As Laura Martinez-Levasseur, the study’s lead author, put it: “Humans can put on clothes or sunglasses — whales can’t.”

    Martinez-Levasseur, who works at Zoological Society of London, spent three years studying whales in the Gulf of California, the teeming body of water which separates Baja California from the Mexican mainland.

    Photographs were taken of the whales to chart any visible damage, and small samples — taken with a crossbow-fired dart — were collected to examine the state of their skin cells.

    Her study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, seemed to confirm suspicions first raised by one of her whale-watching colleagues: The beasts were showing lesions associated with sun damage, and many of their skin samples revealed patterns of dead cells associated with exposure to UV radiation.

    ====

    Perhaps the mystery missile was an angry whale?

  53. Similar in attitude and altitude maybe.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/05/28/ufo-newfoundland-dnd.html

    We had a very similar scenario here in Canada last winter. I don’t know if it was ever officially resolved, but I read and saw demonstrated really good evidence and examples backed by photos and the point Anthony illustrates about the Earth’s curvature. In our case the speculation was about the French Navy and their nearby terreritory.

    I don’t know what I’m seeing with any certainty in this video and don’t want to overstate their similarities either – one’s a vibrant video with points of reference, one a collection of photos and descriptions if I recall. Youtube has some references for searchers of ‘newfoundland ufo’ and I’ll include some coverage by the CTV here.

  54. Was it China who threatened us during the 1990’s with exploding a nuclear device in LA harbor if they felt like it and no one could stop them. Considering all their merchant ships being unloaded, which one has the device? I believe China made their point.

  55. Hmmmm.

    @ Anthony

    “REPLY: I think the “glow” was sunlight reflecting off the fuselage. With the sun below the horizon, an object like an aluminum aircraft body would be a bright object because it is high enough to still catch the sun’s direct light. – Anthony”

    Look at the video again. The camera is pointing *west*. So I, the observing camera, am facing the setting sun and yet I’m seeing the reflection of that same sunlight off an aircraft body to the point where it appears to be a burning flame? So. Light emits from sun, bounces off aircraft body, does a 90 degree turn, another 90 degree turn and finally pierces the camera lens?

    I’m sorry but that doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Light does have some odd properties but at this sort of macro level I’d suggest the occlusion of sunlight by an object doesn’t actually cause the reflection of substantial amounts of sunlight towards the viewer so occluded.

  56. Bruce Cobb says:
    November 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm
    It changed course at one point, so definitely not a rocket. ….
    *******
    Rockets, whether liquid, solid, or hybrid easily can change course if equipped with thrust vector control systems – which most are.

    Having spent my professional life in rocketry from war stuff to Space Shuttle, I’m in the Jeff Id/shunti camp. This was a rocket, probably solid and appeared to be launched from a submersible or sea platform. I’m not quite ready to go for the most exciting possibility, that of a foreign sub tweaking us. Someone in the defense establishment has the answer – count on it. As to when or if they will let the rest of us in on it, that’s a big question.

  57. Hmmmm.

    @ wes george

    “From Unicus’ detailed explanation of the well understood contrail illusion it seems likely this kind of illusion must occur in the LA region with many thousands of jets coming and going daily all the time. Why has this one instance fooled everyone from NORAD on down? “

    Actually the interesting bit for me was the comment by the news helicopter cameraman who emphatically stated it was not a contrail. I assume a professional news cameraman in the LA area who has probably spent thousands of hours in the air and having seen any number of contrails by passing aircraft would know if it was a contrail or not.

  58. “I would suggest something like Virgin Atlantic-Galactic rocket”

    Puh-lease! That launches from some 40,000 ft from it’s mother plane, not the ground! It’s definitely just an aircraft contrail – nothing special, unless you’re one of those weirdo “chemtrail” fanciers.

  59. The reporter in the first video above said that it lit up the night sky. What more does one need to know?

  60. Have worked for a missile manufacturer and initiated launch at test sites for about half dozen rockets. Youtube shows curly plume is the definite rocket exhaust, not jet. Id is right. A rocket headed for Kwaj or destroyed over water, far out, where daylight payload recovery is still feasible. Launch from Florida to Pacific would send rocket across US, not as safe as an over-water flight. No more speculation. Some things are better left unsaid.

  61. If it is simply a contrail, why is this the only one in the sky? Surely there were several aircraft near that altitude either on approach or departing yet there is only 1 contrail. I’m going with the stunt plane scenario.

  62. Sorry Anthony, I am with Jeff Id on this. Living in Scottish Highlands I see thousands of contrails (most transatlantic flights from Europe to the US pass over us), and we also see plenty of military jets practising low-level and high altitude manouvres, and there is no way that’s a contrail. Most likely your military testing a new toy.

  63. I have followed the US civilian space program for a number of years. My comments follow.

    All US government test launches of rockets are made from one of three locations:

    Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center, Florida
    Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (NW of LA).
    Wallops Island, Virginia (much smaller rockets)

    There are some exceptions with “Star Wars” sea-based tests.

    Launches of large rockets are made under very tight safety controls therefore, they are tracked by radar and cameras, under the watchful eyes of range safety personnel so that the rocket can be destroyed by a range safety command destruct system in case the rocket veers off course towards a populated area. Thus a government test rocket has to be launched from or in the line of sight of one of the locations above.

    A launch of any US government rocket 35 miles off the coast of LA could only be made by a submarine or navy cruiser equipped with a “star wars” anti-missile system).

    The maximum thrust time for the current Trident missile is around 4 minutes. If you saw the “rocket” thrusting longer than four minutes, you were watching a plane not a rocket. The Trident has 3 stages and you can sometimes observe staging from 1st to 2nd.

    I am not positive, but the location 35 miles off the coast of LA is probably within the range of the Vandenberg optics and radars from liftoff at sea level through completion of boost phase. I am not positive on this item but any good mathematician or astronomer could calculate this fairly quickly.

    Since I don’t have the entire video I can’t determine the length of the “launch” or boost phase, but I suspect that what we are seeing is an inbound airplane to Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Given the known time of day, this should be easy enough to determine.

    In summary, if our government wants to know what it was, all they have to do is ask LAX control what was near that location at that time of day. I doubt they care enough to check.

    Finally, did anyone on Catalina hear anything? Last time I checked, solid rocket boosters were still pretty damn loud.

    I hope this helps.

  64. I’m also with Jeff Id on this for reasons already stated, but the final clue for me is the rapid changing in light intensity on what appears to be the solid rocket fuel combustion. Reflection off an aircraft maintaining a steady trajectory would be unlikely to create this effect.

    I’m sure we will all have our own theories on this. Gavin from Real Climate might even claim this is the missing ‘upper troposphere’ hotspot !

  65. Super-Pitts aircraft were out there every
    weekend and many in the mid-week.
    They practiced over the water where it’s
    safe to the public. Really, the only safe place
    in L.A. The wing coverings were highly
    reflective, and in the sun might look like
    a rocket motor.

  66. The wide base of the ‘smoke’ trail is merrily the stratospheric con-trail being dissipated winds to appear wide.

  67. The Project Blue Book investigations of UFO sightings provided proof — as experts already knew — that eyewitness evidence is almost useless for identifying complex phenomena. Experienced observers, including pilots, were proven to have misidentified sundogs, Venus, clouds, and many other common things.

    The Contrail Science website gives a clear explanation, including photos from a prior example. While it might be incorrect, IMO it beats the sort of guessing seen in many of these comments.

  68. My thoughts for what they are worth. Whenever I have seen condensed vapour contrails, even at great distance, there is a discernable gap between the vehicle and the start of the contrail representing the time it takes for the exhaust to cool enough to condense. In the video there appears to be no gap, therefore I would suspect smoke rather than vapour.

  69. At this moment Im wondering why we haven’t tracked its course and seen where it would land if it were a missile. I dont know if any of you Californians remember the time the training missile got away and they detonated it, leaving an oil rainbow for folks to wonder about for days before they got their stories straight.

    If it is a jet, would there not be a corresponding flight plan? If it is a missile why aren’t they out there picking it up? Its a little spooky that our response time is so slow in either case. I keep getting flashbacks from Pearl Harbor.. Noooo that cant be an attack denial until they started dropping the bombs.

    I suspect its a training exercise gone awry or at the very least hope some innocent explanation surfaces because if it were a test fire or something similar. .. our response time really sucks.

  70. DJM says:
    November 9, 2010 at 11:34 pm
    I have followed the US civilian space program for a number of years. My comments follow.

    All US government test launches of rockets are made from one of three locations:

    Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center, Florida
    Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (NW of LA).
    Wallops Island, Virginia (much smaller rockets)

    That is incorrect, that is only for Air Force missiles/rockets not USN equipment. The USN maintains two missile/rocket test ranges/centers in the LA area:
    1. Point Mugu just 60 miles from LA (Which is about 100 miles closer then Vandenberg)
    2. San Clemente which lies just a few miles SW of Santa Catalina Island.

    The Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD) is an organization within the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), dedicated to maintaining a center of excellence in weapons development for the Department of the Navy (DoN). NAWCWD has two locations in sunny Southern California; China Lake hosting the land test range and Point Mugu hosting the sea test range.

    Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and some of the most bountiful agricultural land in Southern California, Point Mugu hosts one of the Department of the Navy’s (DoN) premier sea ranges which includes San Nicolas Island. Located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura County, Point Mugu is within easy reach of costal communities such as Santa Monica to the south and Santa Barbara to the north

    http://www.navair.navy.mil/nawcwd/nawcwd/about/index.html

    AIAA Point Mugu. “Established in 1946 to provide a comprehensive test and evaluation site for tactical missiles, Point Mugu has been instrumental in the development, test, evaluation and inservice support of systems including Regulus, Sparrow, Phoenix, Bullpup, Harpoon, SLAM, Tomahawk, Standard, and Rolling Airframe Missile. The first missile launch from an operational submarine was also accomplished at Point Mugu.”

    Weapons. AMRAAM, AARGM, ESSM, Bombs, HARM, Harpoon, Hellfire, JDAM, JSOW, Laser Guided Bombs, LCDB, LOGIR, RAM, SLAM, SLAM-ER, Sidewinder, Sparrow, Standard Missile, Tomahawk, Trident

    http://www.navair.navy.mil/nawcwd/nawcwd/downloads/about/WDQF2010Final.pdf

    San Clemente Island has been operated by Navy as a tactical training range and testing area for over 70 years. Tactical training ranges and operational areas provide space and facilities where U.S. military forces can conduct exercises in a safe, controlled environment. The SCIRC is the cornerstone of tactical training in the Southern California region. The primary purpose of the Complex is to provide readiness training for units and personnel who deploy overseas to meet the national strategy of forward presence and global engagement. Among the evolving needs that precipitated the proposed action are the need for more training in: littoral warfare, including mine counter-measures; electronic warfare; missile firing; operations in the shore bombardment area (SHOBA), amphibious operations; and Naval Special Warfare. Increased need for test and evaluation activities is also anticipated.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/san-clemente-island.htm

    So it is clearly proven that Naval missile tests, including Trident, would not be done by Vandenberg but by the USN at Point Mugu sea test range. Also from what I saw in the video the object was moving away from LA not towards it.

  71. Definitely a rocket. It is smoke, & lots of it, off-white smoke at that. Jet contrails are pure white, & take 5 or 10 minutes to get that thick as the vapor trail from each engine expands & merges with its neighbours.

  72. Temperature inversions likely caused the appearance of this thing to be some sort of missile, explaining the discontinuities in the contrail.

    Same process that gives you the green flash when you’re observing the sunset along the West Coast. That colder dense layer of air will play tricks.

  73. If this were a rocket trail, I’d expect there to be many references to it up and down the coast. How couldn’t a bright rocket trail near sunset not attract attention? The references here all seem to be from the vantage point described in http://uncinus.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/4/#more-4 which certainly has the most confusing perspective.

    My guess is that it was seen up and down the coast, but looked like a contrail lit by the setting sun and hence not made into a major fuss.

  74. wes george says:
    November 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    If its just a contrail then how is the spiraling of the plume explained? Rockets have fins and can produce a twisting plume. Contrails cannot be twisted (corkscrewed.)

    A large airliner creates powerful vortices in the air through which it travels. There are two vortices – one from each wingtip – and they spiral in opposite directions. Contrails involve the air in the vortices and consequently do indeed appear to spiral.

  75. wes george says: November 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm
    If its just a contrail then how is the spiraling of the plume explained? Rockets have fins and can produce a twisting plume. Contrails cannot be twisted (corkscrewed.)
    Furthermore, if it was just a contrail of a airliner coming towards LA on the way to Phoenix then it would have eventually crossed the coast over the heads of the very people who were positioned at the perfect angle to produce an optical illusion of a missile launch. Obviously, this didn’t happen. So we can discount that theory.

    Contrail.

    Second point first – We see only brief time segments of not very fast motion, the remainder is all still shots. That means the cameraman didn’t get much footage to see where it went. It probably did continue ‘over the heads’ of the folks on its way to Phoenix or wherever, but the cameraman got bored watching it crawl along.

    First point, the ‘spiraling.’ Contrails Always spiral. I’ve crept up behind and passed many slower airliners across the Atlantic, and I’ve watched the contrails form in detail.
    They only form at certain altitudes, depending on the atmospheric conditions, and often you’ll see them turn on and off as the aircraft passes through varied conditions.

    There are two kinds, as seen in the blue photo with the highway in the article. Wingtip vortices form a pair of very tight thin spirals, just from condensation of the ambient moisture. You see a pair of thin white lines to the left of the wider contrail in the picture. Tip contrails tend to stay at the aircraft altitude or rise a little.

    The engine exhausts form broader contrails in the aircraft wake. The wake has two spiral tubes, counter-rotating with the flow downward in the center and upward out at the wingtips. On four-engine aircraft, each engine contrail goes straight back for a while, but then the outer contrails fold over the inner ones and they merge to form left and right single rotating tubes. These tubes sink below the aircraft altitude.

    The tube centerlines spread apart, and the width of each tube broadens, making a wider contrail with time. Depending on conditions, the contrails can expand into cirrus or evaporate. Differing winds at altitude can put turns and kinks in the contrail.

    In the photo, you can see the gaps where the contrail turns on and off. You can also see that the couple hundred feet difference in altitude between the thin tip contrails and the thick engine contrails has the engine contrails drifting more to the right, due to a slight difference in wind speed.

    As to the video, the sun has gone down, but the contrail is up in the sunlight. The bright ‘rocket exhaust’ in the video might not be the fuselage, but rather the broad wings lit from below by the sun. At that narrow angle of incidence, the wings would be mirror-like, so you’d see not the shape of the wings, but a reflection of the sun off only one of them, since they are mounted on the aircraft at different angles.

    A rocket will generate its whole contrail in a matter of seconds. The broadening of the start of the video contrail compared to the end being formed suggests it’s been there a good number of minutes.

    Contrail from an aircraft.
    Story from chicken little.

  76. The way the contrail can be viewed “upside down” because the viewer expects the “noise” to be bigger at the closest point whereas the “noise”/con-trail is widest at the oldest point rather than the furthest away reminds me very much of the way the global temperature record can be totally misconstrued because some expect the “noise” to be smaller than the signal, whereas in 1/f noise the noise is as large or larger than the “signal”.

    There are other similarities including the limited visual horizon (limited time period) the way starting conditions are hidden (the lack of pre 1850 long term proxy trends). There’s also the way that the perspective of the viewer can make a horizontal curve appear like an upward trend …. and then there is the media interest!

  77. One of the YouTube comments suggested it might be Nancy Pelosi on her broomstick. I think there might be weight to that theory. Mystery solved. :D

  78. I verified boballab’s comments. If the object generating the contrail was in fact a rocket, it was most likely a Navy Trident or a Navy Ballistic Defense Missile as I mentioned in my earlier post. I mean’t no slight to the Navy’s test range bob. I just know that the US does not go launching big rockets around major metropolitan areas without real-time range safety which prevents catastrophic accidents!

    Again, I have not seen the full video, just chopped up pieces so I can not get the flight duration nailed down to rule out a ballistic missile launch. Doing a little research I was surprised to learn that the Navy’s Standard Missile 3 (Star Wars) could easily fit the bill. It is launched from Naval crusiers and even some destroyers as it turns out. It is also 3 stage solid rocket.

    The timing of a possible missile launch is fascinating given the President’s itinerary.

  79. This was a contrail lit up by the setting sun. Look at the video right at the beginning, or at one of the screen captures showing a still frame (before the camera zoomed in). That portion of the contrail which appears to be closer to the ground is brighter than the surrounding sky. Looking into a western sky at dusk, the only reasonable way that the portion of the contrail which appears “lower” in the sky to actually be brighter is for it to be at high altitude further west, past the terminator. I’m going to cast my lot in with those saying that this was US Airways flight 808 heading from Hawaii to Phoenix, which was transiting the area at the time.

  80. http://wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/4603

    Let’s get past the argument that it was a stunt plane or jet and (for the sake of this exercise) assume this was a substantial missile fired by either the US or a foreign military. Putting the conspiracy hat on (as you have to to some degree in this scenario) lets examine some possibilities:

    1) The US fired the rocket and didn’t admit it.
    -Why?
    -Was it a mistake? A disgruntled soldier maybe? It would take more than that I imagine to fire an ICBM or comparable projectile.
    -If it was a sanctioned test, did the Pentagon just not know? Did they know and want to put the F-E-A-R out there for a few days? Seems unlikely but plausible.
    – Face it, this was not a US action and at best they will try to cover it up by saying it was but to what end? The better action, and what we are seeing is silence. This should be a Wolf Blitzer/AC360 constant coverage piece until we have answers.

    2) Was it the ‘shadow’ government we hear about?
    -Do they really have those kinds of resources – like access to an unknown Submarine capable of firing ICBM’s?
    -What would be the point? They can’t blame Iran.

    3) Was it China firing another shot across our bow?
    – They’ve done it before and to an equal extent (at least in military circles).
    – We are wielding some serious financial muscle at their expense at the moment – they’re used to being our biggest creditor, what is their recourse as we throw them the bird and not only strip the value of their savings overnight but set in motion a chain of trade events which could set them back 20 years (and I’m no fan of the Chinese mind you, I like Dennis Miller’s plan).
    -The Chinese cannot use Robo-Signers and criminal attorneys to motivate the USA to protect their interests.
    -The Chinese are more than likely run more by the military than diplomats.

    There are probably many theories and it is ironic we are talking about this event here. I think maybe, just maybe we should stop chasing around Muslims in caves at $55 million per kill and shore up our defenses here. You think?

    We’re in default and our biggest creditor seems to be putting their foreclosure mill into action.

    Or not.

  81. Wingtip vortices, easy

    As for mysterious missile launches, i live directly under one of the flightpaths towards Schiphol Airport, Schiphol is to north of me, planes come in from the south and south-west, with the sun behind them and they look exactly as this mysterious missile launch.

  82. Are you certain it wasn’t Obama on his way to India?

    Or maybe a Jon Snow-seeking missile aimed at Haiti, in a final effort to get rid of Jon Snow, who must be a pain in their collective arses at the moment. UK readers will know I mean…

  83. Ian and Mike,

    Huh? Contrails never form corkscrews in the sky!

    Well, at least I ain’t never seen it and I live under the Brisbane to Melbourne traffic lanes where I’ve watch contrails on an almost daily basis for years. The wingtip vortices are independent they don’t weave together as they do in one section of the “mystery missile” video. This corkscrew effect can only be caused by the body of an airframe slowly rotating as it ascends, a highly unlike trajectory for an airliner. Jeff Id and others point out other signs that this is a rocket, not a contrail, as well. Such as the fact that one can clearly see the flame of the rocket’s engine and that there is no gap between the rocket’s body and the plume as one normally sees in a pressure wave induced condensation trail behind a high altitude jet.

    The contrail hypothesis is like the AGW hypothesis. If a single observation-such as the fact that the plume spirals at one point into a corkscrew shape-occurs that can’t be explained by the hypothesis, then the entire hypothesis must be discarded in favor of a new one that better fits the observed facts. It’s called the scientific method. I’m always amazed at how few otherwise finely educated dolts actually picked up a course in the philosophy of science while at uni. Sure would make rational analysis on all manner of topics more fluid.

    The principle of parsimony does not necessarily support the contrail illusion hypothesis either. Since thousands of high altitude jets transit this airspace daily the contrail illusion must be fairly common and local observers well versed in sorting out illusion from truly anomalous events. Moreover, as Boballab makes clear, US military activity in the area is dense and arcane. Making the missile hypothesis even more parsimonious than a once in a lifetime optical illusion that defies the usual physics of condensation trails.

    Personally, given Obama’s Asian tour and the unprecedented (for foreign policy limp-wristed Obama) anti-China saber rattling that he and Hillary are doing along the way, my long money is on a rogue Chinese sub commander hyped that he made it through to LA letting loose a signal to the world that China is ascendent. Sure, it’s a 10 to 1 punt, but anyone got a better idea?

    Ironically, the proof for Chinese submariner’s hubris might well be the Pentagon declaring that Yeah, Unicus the obscure blogger got it right all along. It was a contrail! Nothing to see here folks. Move along…

  84. Quite likely a jet contrail.

    Living in Florida I’ve seen and photographed many launches, from distances of 35 to 150 miles.

    Solid rocket motors do produce a lot of smoke, but not as much as shown in the CA images unless it is made by very big motors. To me the key is that no image or video shows the actual rocket exhaust, which in my experience exceeds the length of the vehicle by two to three times and is very apparent, even in bright daylight, even from distances of 100 miles. Here is an image I made of the space shuttle back in 2008, from a distance of about 30 miles, with a 500mm telephoto. Notice the burning exhaust. This long flaming exhaust was easily seen with the naked eye from the same distance.

    http://www.josesuroeditorial.com/Other/Tests/1138678_nKNKC/11/1085383618_PD9vD/Original

  85. You’re all wrong [I think]. It’s not a plane, ICBM or SLBM., It’s a navy surface to air missile:

    Standard Missile can refer to a family of several different American missiles:

    * RIM-66 Standard (SM-1MR/SM-2MR), a medium range surface-to-air missile, the successor of the RIM-24 Tartar missile.
    * RIM-67 Standard (SM-1ER/SM-2ER non-VLS capable), an extended range surface-to-air missile, the successor of the RIM-2 Terrier missile
    * AGM-78 Standard ARM, an air launched anti-radiation missile
    * RIM-156 Standard Extended Range Block IV (SM-2ER VLS capable), an extended range surface-to-air missile
    * RIM-161 Standard missile 3 (SM-3), a naval launched anti-ballistic missile, based on SM-2ER Block IV
    * RIM-174 Standard ERAM (SM-6), an upgraded version of the SM-2 under development designed to target both aircraft and high performance cruise missiles

  86. I forgot to add that the color of the light may be misleading. A digital camera has to compute a white balance and can get it wrong.

  87. Some great white tried to shoot down a plane because the wanted some human food but did not want to cause trouble for themselves or it is a contrail

  88. You are all wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. I, and I alone, have the answer. It was the last sane CEO of a manufacturing company getting the heck outta Cali. ;)

  89. Why it must be a contrail:

    — At sunset the bottom of the pillar of exhaust is lit up just as brightly as the rest of it, indicating that it is not at ground level.
    — At sunset the part of the pillar that is (allegedly) the highest (if it were a rocket) is getting darker than the rest of it, indicating an EAST-ward progression (not upwards).
    — Exhaust trails from rockets go through many different layers of earths atmosphere that are blowing at different directions and different speeds. The result of this is a smoke trail that gets as distorted as it possibly can and ends up looking like this:

    or this:

    The trail in the video is STRAIGHT and tends to remain so, which indicates flight at a relatively stable altitude.

  90. I have some questions for the contrail believers. If this was a plane coming over the horizon how does the contrail appear to be in front of the distant clouds? Was the plane ascending? Absent these answers I will have to fall into the contrail skeptic camp.

  91. When the military does missile testing, like the SLBM launch that some speculate was the culprit, there is a notice to airmen (NOTAM) and a notice to mariners (NOTMAR) issued advising ships and aircraft of a threat to their passage. These declarations specify closure areas at the launch site, at the impact site, and wherever boosters may drops. The launches are preceded by ships or aircraft conducting area clearance to ensure that the closure areas are in fact safe.
    All militaries do it like this, even the rogue states (sometimes). In addition to protecting innocent passage through the seas, this notification process is rigorously adhered to so by the major powers so that the nuclear armed states are not surprised by an unexpected missile popping up on their early warning radars.
    If there are no closure areas promulgated through NOTMARs and NOTAMs, etc., and evidenced by aircraft providing a safety clearance, the answer likely lies elsewhere.

  92. I’ve watched many high-altitude aircraft through my telescope (which isn’t easy!). In the evenings when the planes are still lit by the sun, at high magnifications, they often look just like bright rockets leaving an exhaust plume. The visual illusion changes once you can get a better look and make out the wings and tail.

  93. If its just a jet, why hasn’t the FAA come out immediately and say this was a jet. That high it surely would of been on radar, and by the seeming size of it, it was a large jet. Large enough to not be “unidentified”.

    Long Shot possibility you might have to consider is that Mr Obama is currently in Asia, and just arrived in S. Korea. North Korea could be doing a show of force by sneaking a sub to our coast and launching one of MANY missiles they have been testing lately. Long shot indeed, but not outside the realm of possibility of North Korea. Afterall, they just got done sinking a warship, now it was the Americans turn to see a show of force from the peoples republic.

    I think that is why the US govt is keep mum about it, especially the FAA.

  94. I’m no expert on the Chinese Navy, but they rarely have any of their handful of SSBNs outside of territorial waters, and their are very easy to detect (noisy). I would certainly hope every single one of them is being shadowed by a US attack sub if they left Chinese territorial waters (and even if they didn’t), However I do know they have been ferverishly trying to develop better capabilities in the area as a retaitory weapon. Reminds me of the heady days of studying Cold War nuclear strategy in the 80s! Good times, good times… well not really. Terrorists suck but it’s a hell of lot less scary than total nuclear annihlation.

    I certainly wouldn’t put this type of action past the Soviets, uh, I mean Russkies, either. North Korea certainly doesn not have anything close to the technology to pull this off.

    I’m sure there is a reasonable explination, I really don’t think the Chinese are crazy enough to pull a stunt like this.

    Where’s Dr. No? Someone needs to call James Bond.

  95. Funny aspects to the story:
    – Did the report bother to contact LAX to confirm the flight path of the plane; No.
    – Did the reporter bother to investigate the origin of the launch; No.

    The reporter convinced the newsroom to dump the video on air with the idea that they could then do the backgrounding with [wait for it] the Pentagon.

    So, with the President abroad and the Fleet in tow, a California newsroom decides its a “good idea” to run an unconfirmed story of a missile launch on air.

    California news is always entertaining.

  96. Ockham’s razor, also spelled Occam’s razor, also called law of economy, or law of parsimony, principle stated by William of Ockham (1285–1347/49), a scholastic, that Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate; “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.” The principle gives precedence to simplicity; of two competing theories, the simplest explanation of an entity is to be preferred. The principle is also expressed “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.”

    It’s an airplane.

  97. Just watched a show on History channel about USO’s….unidentified submersible objects….and that around Catalina Island is where the most obsevations of objects flying into and out of the sea are reported worldwide….

  98. Ian H says:
    November 10, 2010 at 12:58 am
    wes george says:
    November 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    “If its just a contrail then how is the spiraling of the plume explained? Rockets have fins and can produce a twisting plume. Contrails cannot be twisted (corkscrewed.)”

    A large airliner creates powerful vortices in the air through which it travels. There are two vortices – one from each wingtip – and they spiral in opposite directions. Contrails involve the air in the vortices and consequently do indeed appear to spiral.

    Which is why when flying a small plane you maintain a good horizontal separation behind a large plane and stay above their wake on approach. You have to watch for wakes coming from above when near a busy airport the vortices are stronger when more lift is being generated by a climbing aircraft. Wakes drop at about 400 feet/min and level off about 900 ft below the plane’s path.

  99. Also to keep in mind, along with the lack of response from the FAA still, on the very same day, after this event this headline came up : Obama cuts short Indonesia visit due to volcanic activity, proceeds to S. Korea in advance of G-20 Summit.

    How about…….: After Mysterious Missile launch, POTUS flees Indonesia to nearest major U.S. Military Installation

    hehe..I love fanning flames! Even if it was a Jet, the FAA needs to say so first. Till they identify a glowing jet, im gonna keep pushing it. I can see it being a jet though, but it would have to have a silver under body, I forgot the passenger jet that has those, I think its United or American Airlines…but again…if it was those…theyd have transponders. The FAA should of come out immediately.

  100. With the Contrail Science Overflow ID:

    Note to the media – since this was almost certainly Flight AWE808 from Hawaii to Phoenix, why not have a camera crew somewhere in the vicinity (does not need to be exact, or a chopper), at around 5-5:30 today, and if the weather is right you’ll see the same trail again.

    Perhaps the discussion thread should change to tricks of perspective. Here are a couple notes:

    The first time I saw a contrail that was a white cloud with a dark streak ahead of it was from a chairlift at Vail CO. I noticed that the contrail lay between me and the Sun. It took me a few seconds to convince myself that the dark streak was from the shadow of the contrail between where the Sun was and the airplane. The shadow meant that less sunlight was scattering off that part of the atmosphere and hence was darker than the fully illuminated air.

    Baseball outfielders generally don’t run to the place where they expect a fly ball to land and stop there to wait for it, they prefer to be off to the side and get to the catch point just before the ball. By seeing it move across the visual field they have a much better idea of the trajectory. Likewise, being in line with flight AWE808 made it very hard to judge the direction of the plane, especially that the main distance cue, the broadening contrail, made the distant part appear to be the close part.

  101. 899 says:
    November 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    So what’s it to be? Ship trails or big, fat, thick, never dissipating contrails? Enquiring minds want to know!

    In any case, normal contrails consist largely of water vapor, itself which forms several tens of feet behind the tail end of the jet itself, and which DO NOT spread over many thousands of feet of sky, whilst maintaining an opacity.

    Rather, they rapidly thin out, and in doing so they become translucent and finally transparent. But they DO NOT spread out over THOUSANDS of feet of sky, whilst maintaining opacity.

    Sorry, I think you need to spend more time watching contrails, how they change with time, and how they scatter light, especially in different directions, e.g. the forward scatter seen here.

    Also, in the dustfree upper atmosphere, air can often become supersaturated, apparently up to 200% or so. In those conditions contrail particles can grow into ice crystals big enough to fall as snow (but usually sublimate in dryer air layers long before reaching the ground.)

  102. Mark Bowlin says:
    November 10, 2010 at 7:52 am

    “When the military does missile testing, like the SLBM launch that some speculate was the culprit, there is a notice to airmen (NOTAM) and a notice to mariners (NOTMAR) issued advising ships and aircraft of a threat to their passage.”

    You mean like on page 55 of this document?

    http://164.214.12.45/MSISiteContent/StaticFiles/NAV_PUBS/UNTM/201045/NtM_45-2010.pdf

    “434/10(18).
    EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC.
    CALIFORNIA.
    MISSILES.
    1. INTERMITTENT MISSILE FIRING OPERATIONS 0001Z TO 2359Z
    DAILY MONDAY THRU SUNDAY IN THE NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER
    SEA RANGE. THE MAJORITY OF MISSILE FIRINGS TAKE PLACE
    1400Z TO 2359Z AND 0001Z TO 0200Z DAILY MONDAY THRU FRIDAY
    IN AREA BOUND BY
    34-02N 119-04W, 33-52N 119-06W, 33-29N 118-37W,
    33-20N 118-37W, 32-11N 120-16W, 31-54N 121-35W,
    35-09N 123-39W, 35-29N 123-00W, 35-57N 121-32W,
    34-04N 119-04W.”

    It’s more of a blanket warning with no specific date. But laying out the position from the news program on a chart with the coords above, they match.

  103. It is the start of a new trend in Hope and Change where California is being transformed into a FlyOver State.

  104. Don’t pay attention to the contrail/exhaust that is a misdirection.

    Look at the top of the exhaust where the object should be, see that bright orange burn? That is NOT a jet burn, and it isn’t the burn from any commercial aircraft I am aware of.

    That burn is akin to a reasonable size rocket/missile engine burn. Maybe it was some commercial company testing their experimental orbital launch rockets in a very poor location, maybe it was something more sinister, but it was most likely NOT a jet.

  105. Since we are just wildly speculating, it was a dry practice shot, of new conventional ICBMs, containing multiple kinetic energy warheads (non-nuclear). This may mean we can say good-bye to Iranian and North Korea nuclear sites…soon!

  106. The reason the exhaust looks like smoke is because the view is at such a shallow angle that you’re looking thru quite a bit of exhaust. From a side view it would look much less dense.

    OT, but yrs ago I was looking up on a perfectly clear day & noticed a silvery “cylinder” traveling across the sky at high altitude. There was no sound or contrail. Though at great distance, the cylinder was quite distinct, reflecting light along its length. There were no wings or tail visible — just blue sky at its margins. When almost overhead, the sun angle changed enough that the wings & tail suddenly appeared, and it “transformed” into a jetliner.

  107. As it happens, a couple of days ago, just before sunset, I witnessed a contrail, white, as it was being formed, from about 10 degrees above the southwest horizon to about 60 to 70 degrees above the horizon. Here in Phoenix, AZ. It was such a magnificant thing to watch I called my wife to see it with me. It was most obviously a hot fighter craft, given its steep attitude and I could see the actual aircraft it was forming behind.

    It did not in the least look like this other thing. When it went out of sight, the entire contrail was visible.

    This thing was no contrail. I saw many contrails when I was stationed at Offutt AFB in the 1950s.

    I might add, there is one of those “flaps” of mysterious sightings going on as of now, sometimes referred to as UFO flaps. Fireballs in the sky over Canada, one well documented and captured by video image by NASA, another by another professional agency. I am not suggesting that this was a UFO.

    When I lived in SoCal, on occasion I saw rocket trails as they were being formed, out over the ocean, and they looked much like this one. This one was composed of smoke, not condensing water vapor.

  108. I also think it is interesting that the helicopter footage does not continue. Continuing it would either a) Clearly show that it is a missile as it glows long after the rest of the sky is completely dark, or b) Clearly show that it is an airliner contrail that goes dark as it flies east into shadow. So they tape a part of the story that they can sensationalize to the masses. And people who should know better fall for it. The guys in the chopper would never stop taping a developing story. I’m sure they are having a pretty good laugh at it all now…

  109. From the short clip it looks like a navy surface-to-air or cruise missile to me, rather than a con trail. Test firing or rogue missile or the Asians flexing their muscle – who knows???

  110. It’s too bad we can’t get the exact position of the helicopter when it was shooting the footage and the time it was shot. It’d make it a lot easier to correlate it to AWE808.

    The ‘contrail’s’ color at the bottom (make sure you’re looking at the correct photo) darkens, but that could be due to cirrus farther west obscuring it rather than it being a rocket plume at a lower altitude.

    I’ve frequently seen sun glint off aircraft bodies when they are fully lit but my surface location is after sunset. However, the glint seems to flicker in the video and my observations have always had steady sunglint (very slowly varying, over minutes, as the sun/aircraft/observer geometry changes).

    This is another video floating about of the same target observed from (I think) the Santa Barbara area. Again, if observer time/location were known, it could also help determine whether AWE808 was in the right location to produce the observed effects.

    AWE808 inbound from PHNL to KPHX is the simplest explanation fitting the available facts. I don’t think we can definitively exclude a large rocket of some sort yet, but its plausibility is decreasing.

  111. It is a high flying jet. The darker line beside the white trail proves it. It is a shadow of the contrail being projected against a much lower level overcast of haze. Had me going though, for a while.

    All The Best!

  112. My assignment for the KUSI 10 PM News last night was explain that mystery missile launch video. I did the best I could. The telecast is on Youtube

    I think the sunset effects on things in the sky can be very decieving.

    REPLY: Thanks John, Well done. – Anthony

  113. Well I will put it this way. When we are trying to negotiate peace talks with other countries, and talks about getting rid of our Nuclear arsenal within those peace talks, why would we ever admit to a missle test? And who knows with the whacko Kim Jong II out there always posing the threat of pushing the button if we do show him some respect, maybe it was indeed a show down pissing contest that our Nation doesn’t want us to know about to prevent mass panic within our country.

  114. I’m still inclined to think it’s a rocket, but not as sure as I was initially. I saw this yesterday, but it took until now to find it again. This is the very first comment at KCBS’s website story: RAW VIDEO: Mysterious Contrail Off Calif. (http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2010/11/09/exclusive-raw-video-mysterious-missile-launch-off-california-coast/ )

    Lorrie Laible
    I find it intersting that no one “claims” to know about this. Yesterday we were returning from Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines with an arrival time of 3:25 pm at LAX. Approximately 270 miles away our pilot came on the speaker and told us we would be rerouted over Big Sur California due to military maneuvers in our path. Maybe they should speak with the pilot of our flight.
    November 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Reply | Report comment

  115. And as far as it being a contrail. Well that doesn’t explain the fire that you see from the propulsion system in the rear of the missle. Just like you would see from the Space Shuttle. Which I see all the time since I live in Orlando, Fl less then 30 miles from the launch pad. Trust me folks that is some sort of missle or rocket, not a contrail from a commercial jet.

  116. Jerry F. says:
    November 10, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Ockham’s razor, also spelled Occam’s razor, also called law of economy, or law of parsimony, principle stated by William of Ockham (1285–1347/49), a scholastic, that Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate; “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.” The principle gives precedence to simplicity; of two competing theories, the simplest explanation of an entity is to be preferred. The principle is also expressed “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.”

    Correct.

    It’s an airplane.

    Poor conclusion. Parsimony clearly and largely favors a rocket explanation. A contrail explanation needs to invoke rare weather to explain why contrails like it aren’t regularly seen by the massive number of aircraft transiting that area and it also requires a number of optical illusions being invoked to explain the appearance of it. On the other hand a rocket requires no special circumstances to explain the observation and rockets are known to launch in the vicinity on rare occassions which explains why it isn’t an everyday observation.

  117. For crying out loud ! No wonder that Science is in such a disreputable state these days.

    People just can’t even describe what they see with their own eyes.

    Now the actual video shot from the Station Helicopter was available for viewing on CBSNEWS.COM all of yesterday; and that is where I saw the video shown; and that is all I have seen of the actual incident.

    What I have seen and heard since has me ROFLMAO along with smoke and flames coming out of both nostrils and ears.

    Let’s start at the top; might be the very top. Is Dr Michio Kaku a big enough expert scientist for you ?

    Well he was consulted on one broadcast and he described it as a “contrail” from an aeroplane.

    Sorry Dr Kaku; that’s plain kaka ! better stick to Physics Theory; you’re not qualified to do experimental research.

    Then on George Noory’s Coast-to-Coast AM; he had two “experts” on; one of them a show regular who has very good scientific credentials; and the other one supposedly was “in the know” about secret aeroplanes, and black helicopters, and missile etc. Well talk about a heap of muddled garbage; in the end they concluded they didn’t know what it was or who done it.

    Please; can people stop calling this a “Contrail” ! Contrail is short for “CONDENSATION TRAIL” and it happens typically when a fast moving aeroplane or even an automobile passes through nearly saturated (H2O) cool air, and the pressure drop due to Bernoulli’s principle causes condensation along the path. I see it happen along rainy highways all the time.

    This was NOT condensing water vapor. It was SMOKE from the combustion of ROCKET FUEL.

    Also the video; which also showed the ground in it, shows that the ROCKET came up from the ground (or ocean), and went near vertically up into the sky; with some bends and kinks along the way; you could see the actual vehicle in front of the smoke exhaust; and you could watch the smoke being laid out behind the ROCKET as it sped up.

    Notice I do not call it a “missile”. A missile would be something sinister; a launch vehicle carrying a weapon system (offensive or defensive); but a ROCKET could be just off for a ride; and might carry a scientific payload; or maybe nothing at all.

    One of those two Experts on Noory’s show; the one who was “on the inside” said it couldn’t be a satellite launch from Vandenberg or a militaru missile because “They ahve over 50 gees of acceleration, and this object didn’t accelerate like that.

    Where the hell do these idiots get the idea that ground launched missiles have 50 gees acceleration. If you watch any big launches, you get the idea that these things are set up to barely get off the ground (yes I exaggerate). As thy burn through fuel, they of course do pick up acceleration; but you don’t want too high an acceleration; because that means your rocket engine is too big and heavy for the vehicle.

    Kookoo Kaku, siad this wasn’t a rocket because it wasn’t headed for Kwajalein; like a lot of Vandenberg shots are.

    I have no idea who fired what; but it WAS a rocket making smoke; not a contrail; and it was not any kind of aeroplane. It would seem that the military do know exactly what it was and who did it; and they haven’t said too much yet.

    But people who have worked at Vandenberg and in the Rocket business, say they launch stuff from that offshore launch site all the time; and they aren’t about to tell us ahead of time.

    Unless you want to concoct some hollywood special effects creation on the computer; that CBS affiliate simply played the bag man for; this was simply a surface launched rocket and whoever did it knows exactly what it was. Mother Gaia knows too since she sees everything.

  118. My theories..

    1) It’s a perspective problem.
    2) The A380’s engine oil leak is worse than we thought, explaining the density of the contrail
    3) Astute’s run aground again. Cost overruns explained by excessive size of distress flare
    4) Columbian drug smugglers upping the ante and arming their subs
    5) NASA’s had enough of GISS bringing them into disrepute and sent them on a field trip

    Least likely to me would be CBS’s suggestion that it’s to send a message to Asia. Like they don’t know about US SLBMs? If it’s a missile, more likely the reverse.

  119. I’m chuckling in large part because of an unpleasant encounter with a “chemtrails” conspiracy theorist who kicked me off his blog and swore at me after I posted information on the variety of contrails and aircraft flight patterns.

    Never mind he went out of his way to praise my posts exposing climate alarmists, he is a real emotionalist (holds his beliefs on emotions and has abusive emotions when someone challenges him with facts).

    Unfortunately a “media meteorologist” named Mark Madryga is aslo a chemtrails fanatic connected to the jerk.

    REPLY: Note to commenters, we don’t discuss “chemtrails” on this forum. Any further posts on chemtrails will be deleted wholesale. – Anthony

  120. Here’s a link to a photo showing another contrail at the exact same time yesterday (the day after all the excitement).

    It sure looks like US Airways flight 808 to me, which is a daily flight. Let’s get over this and move on.

  121. In the Fox news clip, the “base” of the trail is more brightly lit by the sunset
    than the “top”, which helps confirm that it is farther west, as well as high up.

  122. Dave Springer says:
    “Poor conclusion. Parsimony clearly and largely favors a rocket explanation. A contrail explanation needs to invoke rare weather to explain why contrails like it aren’t regularly seen by the massive number of aircraft transiting that area and it also requires a number of optical illusions being invoked to explain the appearance of it. On the other hand a rocket requires no special circumstances to explain the observation and rockets are known to launch in the vicinity on rare occassions which explains why it isn’t an everyday observation.”

    Your conclusion requires there to be an unexplained launch of a large rocket. This would be a very unusual circumstance.

    Airplane and optics. Simple.

  123. Dave Springer says:
    November 10, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Poor conclusion. Parsimony clearly and largely favors a rocket explanation. A contrail explanation needs to invoke rare weather to explain why contrails like it aren’t regularly seen by the massive number of aircraft transiting that area and it also requires a number of optical illusions being invoked to explain the appearance of it.

    Actually, they are seen. I’ve seen contrails that came out off the pacific ocean that looked like this before, usually the plane is well past me by the time I see them.
    As I posted before, this is generally what the sky looks like after a launch from vandenberg:

    This was the image from this supposed “missile”

    See the differences? One of them has been blown around like crazy in different directions along it’s length to end up looking like a big squiggly in the sky. The other is uniformly distorted along it’s length by (presumably) residing in a layer of air all moving in the same direction.

    Also, here is what the shuttle launches at sunset look like:

    Please notice how the BOTTOM of the rocket plume is DARKER than the top on the shuttle image. This is completely different from this supposed mystery missile.

  124. Olaf Koenders, Wizard of Oz? says: November 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm
    >>“I would suggest something like Virgin Atlantic-Galactic rocket”

    Puh-lease! That launches from some 40,000 ft from it’s mother plane, not the ground! It’s definitely just an aircraft contrail – nothing special, unless you’re one of those weirdo “chemtrail” fanciers.

    Since we appear to be looking down on the trail, it must start lower that the altitude of the observer (lower than a couple of thousand feet). Thus the trail is low level and cannot be a contrail. Also, the trail kinks as it passes through the cloud layer, again suggesting that the vehicle is rising through a layer of windshear – typical of rocket plumes, but not contrails.

    Also, this is a busy piece of airspace. If the temp and dewpoint were contrailable, we would see dozens of contrails in the sky. But we don’t, even though the evidence from this trail is that the ‘contrails’ should be long lasting. Thus either only one aircraft was working LAX at this time, which is virtually impossible, or it is not a contrail.

    As to Virgin Galactic – I know how they launch, but there are many private rocketeers attempting to do the same thing, and even the Virgin rocket motor is still undergoing testing. It is not beyond the realms of possibilities that this is a privateer; but if it was, then some kind of permission should have been agreed for such a launch.

    .

  125. Note to commenters, we don’t discuss “chemtrails” on this forum. Any further posts on chemtrails will be deleted wholesale. – Anthony

  126. So people think it is plausible that the Chinese launched a missile some 200 odd miles off of the US coast under the guise of scaring the US into taking specific actions or non-actions relative to monetary policy? Am I hearing that right?

    If you are the Chinese, why not announce such a display to the widest possible audience in America? Wouldn’t it make the most sense to scare the beejeezus out of the most people possible and announce that they’d better put pressure on the politicians to do things like you, the Chinese, want, or else?

  127. Anthony, I didn’t think my post was discussing “chemtrails”. Perhaps I’m not clear on how that’s defined.

  128. There is a misconception with the visual perspective in the new explanations added to this thread. Those contrails standing upright, as if being launched vertically, occur when the aircraft is coming towards you. The distant plume looks like it is on the horizon, and thus the entire trail looks vertical. A common illusion.

    However, this cannot happen when the aircraft comes over your head and goes away from you. And this vehicle is going away. There is no way you can ‘look down’ towards the horizon on a contrail that has passed over your head by 35,000 ft. The visual perspective would be more like a ‘missile’ crashing towards the ground.

    The only way you could claim the former illusion, is if you could claim that this vehicle was coming towards you. You might try to argue this, but since the lower trail is below the upper level cloud, this is highly unlikely. The number of times that you get this kind of dense, organised stratoform cloud above a cruising aircraft is very rare indeed. So the overwhelming image, here, is of a vehicle heading away from the viewer.

  129. >>>It is a high flying jet. The darker line beside the white trail
    >>proves it. It is a shadow of the contrail being projected against
    >>a much lower level overcast of haze. Had me going though, for a while.

    The darker line is simply the portion of the trail that is not lit by the setting sun. Some of the trail is lit, the rest is in shadow. Both contrails and rocket trails will display the same imagery.

    .

  130. From the following website:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1328155/Mystery-missile-fired-California-May-optical-illusion-caused-aircraft.html

    Excerpt:
    Perhaps no one had a better view of the alleged rocket than KCBS-TV Channel 2 cameraman Gil Leyvas. He was aboard the station’s helicopter shooting footage of sunset over the ocean at 5.15pm when he noticed a spiral-shaped vapor trail and zoomed in to get a better look.
    The on-board camera showed a plume twisting up from the horizon and narrowing as it climbed into the sky northwest of Santa Catalina Island, he said.
    ‘Whatever it was, it was spinning up into the sky kind of like a spiral,’ he said. ‘It was quite a sight to see. It was spectacular.’
    And he wasn’t the only one to see it. When Kelly Spear looked out the back window of her San Pedro home to see a rising orange line on the horizon, she thought it might be a rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
    She said: ‘I told myself it was just a plane, but I really had no idea. We have a pretty expansive view, and I’ve never seen anything like that before.’

    Note the last witness: She’s obviously seen jet contrails, but had never seen anything like that before.

    Note the description by camera operator in the news helo: Spiraling trail. If that were a commercial jetliner, then the passengers and crew were getting quite a ride!

  131. NBC news just reported that “the Pentagon is satisfied that this was a contrail from an airplane.” I guess the “Area 51″ types can really get going now. Ha.

    Isn’t natural variability a wonderful thing?

  132. I gotta share these comments from Contrail Science Overflow:

    concerned for passengers / Nov 9 2010 9:21 pm

    The passengers in that plane are lucky that they didn’t get hit by the missile! ;-)

    concerned for passengers / Nov 9 2010 10:16 pm

    @Skeptic / Nov 9 2010 9:59 pm:
    It really flushed them out like dumb quail and shot them down.

    A Freudian slip: more evidence that it was a missile.

  133. But people who have worked at Vandenberg and in the Rocket business, say they launch stuff from that offshore launch site all the time; and they aren’t about to tell us ahead of time.

    Au contraire:

    Mark Bowlin says:
    November 10, 2010 at 7:52 am

    When the military does missile testing, like the SLBM launch that some speculate was the culprit, there is a notice to airmen (NOTAM) and a notice to mariners (NOTMAR) issued advising ships and aircraft of a threat to their passage. These declarations specify closure areas at the launch site, at the impact site, and wherever boosters may drops. The launches are preceded by ships or aircraft conducting area clearance to ensure that the closure areas are in fact safe.

  134. That’s the tri-ship trip to the heaven, trying for a new planet, take two.

    Some of you guys want remember this, so let me give you a quick reminder of the facts, right.

    First there was the whole climate gate debacle, then came the himalaya gate, then it was the HookeyMann gate (Mann schtick bear tried to fix back the MWP just enough so that it wouldn’t show as having been completely disappeared, this was a added bonus gate to already numerous hockeystick gates, what with the dude can’t do statistics), then there was the CRU gate, Amazon gate, Kiwi gate, the numerous gore gates, and, well you get the point or just use google or bing or what not. But wait there’s more, remember the blue hippie gate? No? Yes? Of course that was Hippie Cameron running for his life from his own debate, even before the opposition arrived.

    Think about this for a minute. Jones, Gore, Cameron, Schmidt, Hansen, Pachauri, et cetera et al, where did ‘em all go?

    So do you see now, them contrails are from Panzer Pant Romm’s second try to try and catch up with his heroes, however, apparently he tried to also squeeze both Mann and fired Mrs EPA Hippie into his chemical mechanical machination, with himself this time (hence the second try) into his proudly home built ACME cylindrical rocket propelled tube (comes with real paddles–for true value added services–o_O)

    Apparently, per ACME usual, the project didn’t fare to well.

  135. I was watching CNN early this morning (7am-ish Pacific) and they had two experts on this subject. Had I been on my game I would have jotted down their names because (while three other subsequent video’s claiming contrails probable) the video clip is not posted on the CNN website. The significance of the interview was that one of the experts had examined the entire KCBS helicopter footage which he claimed to be in the vicinity of 10 minutes long – probably filmed long after the rocket disappeared from sight. He stated that in the footage there was a ‘clear’ and irrefutable separation of the stage one rocket.

    While people are quick to dismiss this as an illusion-induced regular phenomenon, we of all people should not shrug something so important off with flimsy evidence based on our perceptions and/or fears. To be honest I was floored when I saw the interview this morning and if anyone can find it (it had two panelist experts) one of them was John Pike, the other I can’t recall. It wasn’t this one: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/11/09/wian.missile.mystery.cnn?iref=allsearch but I did notice Pike in this one.

    It seems to me that this event is Classified and the flimsy argument of an optical illusion causing people to believe a still unidentified aircraft caused what looked like an ICBM Submarine based missile launch is ridiculous. I imagine the Pentagon may have a more official denial (rather than big-maybe’s about contrails) if no other footage of the event turns up. However, where is the so-called long-version of this event which shows the missile/rocket changing stages? Are we really going to shrug this off and sweep it under the rug? Why?

    It was a rocket people. Where it came from should be the mystery to solve, not whether or not it was an airplane for goodness sakes. If the ‘contrail’ people are wrong the next event could be ten ‘armed’ missiles headed for our shores and not away from them. Seriously, if we don’t demand answers and lean on our government to protect our country, who will? We need to stop chasing Al Quaida in caves half-way around the world and secure our own countries defenses.

    I may be wrong but I need more than references to optical illusions making it look like it’s a missile heading West when it is actually an airplane headed east – and that is not a rocket-fireball-plume but rather the sun reflecting off the plane – blah blah. I mean this with all due respect… I could be wrong but your arguments so far do not overcome even the short-version video clips let alone what appears to be a longer version showing the stage separation. Good supportive evidence but certainly not a slam dunk – especially given the wishy-washy official responses to date.

    Hopefully more amateur video footage comes out related to this – or we get access to the long version of the KCBS footage.

    REPLY: Yeah, sure, whatever.

  136. I’m convinced it was an airliner contrail now. That “exhaust flame” had me wondering though. A funny way of thinking of this would be that it is a missile (contrail) launched to shoot down the UFO (party balloons) over NYC.

  137. mysearchfortruth.

    Go back to the 911 truther’s site. You have no powers here. This is place where rational people contemplate reality, free of sensationalistic nonsense.

  138. “”””” Roger Knights says:
    November 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm
    But people who have worked at Vandenberg and in the Rocket business, say they launch stuff from that offshore launch site all the time; and they aren’t about to tell us ahead of time.

    Au contraire: “””

    For clarification:-

    I stated what some people who have worked at Vandenberg said; that doesn’t mean this rocket was fired from Vandenberg.

    Someone up the page cited the actual wording of an official notification relating to that missile range. They essentially tell us that they may launch a vehicle at any time any day; apparently except for the two minute surrounding midnight on any day. 0001Z to 2359Z, so between 2359Z, and 0001Z next day they don’t do any firings.

    And Vandenberg says it wasn’t from their place; and the cameraman identified the location as north of Catalina Island, and 30 miles offshore.

    So no they don’t tell us when they will fire one; they do tell us when they WON’T fire one (2359Z to 0001Z).

    So yes they do say they will launch rockets; they just don’t say when. There is no reason to tell the general public when they are doing a launch although maybe they do inform some government agencies.

    That whole area is a designated firing range so it is always off limits to either private or commerical planes (I presume).

    As for the 808 flight blogger. Did he say that HE took HIS video fromt he same LOCATION and ALTITUDE as the helicopter cameraman. If not his “contrail” is meaningless. The news station VIDEO was a movie of the event; not a couple of stills; the blogegr just shows a pair of still photos that could have been taken anywhere; well anywhere one could see a track; smoke or moisture.

  139. Jeremy says:

    ….. Also, here is what the shuttle launches at sunset look like:

    Please notice how the BOTTOM of the rocket plume is DARKER than the top on the shuttle image. This is completely different from this supposed mystery missile.
    ******

    The linked picture illustrates a couple of things. The Sun has set (behind the photographer) and the plume exhibits lighter shades of color as the vehicle rises into twilight that is progressively brighter until it is in full sun, when it becomes nearly white. The color is dominated by one of the exhaust products of the solid boosters, aluminum oxide.

    The earliest portion of the plume (which has a sort of mushroom cap) consists of solid rocket exhaust which was diverted out and away from the launch pad by the water-cooled flame diverter structures under the pad. This plume contains a large amount of steam from the violently heated cooling water. This portion of the plume has much heat added and rises quickly. The usual high humidity of the area augments the whole process.

    Once free of the solids, the orbiter main engines (burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen) produces almost pure water vapor which is greatly diluted visually due to the expansion of the vapor out the nozzles of the engines.

    I’m still voting for a rocket launch off San Clemente Island. The signatures of the plume and trajectory are just too familiar.

    Has anyone suggested that all-time favorite explanation of mysterious things in the sky, the weather balloon?

  140. Jerry F. said:

    “Go back to the 911 truther’s site. You have no powers here. This is place where rational people contemplate reality, free of sensationalistic nonsense.”

    Jerry,

    Rational people contemplating reality? Then MIT’s Theodore Postal (Science/Tech/National Security) must be a So-Called ‘Truther’ too (see CNN video a few posts up)? I’ve followed this website since before it was popular and linked it’s content hundreds, maybe a thousand times I imagine – because I believe Anthony is more or less right related to climate change and I fight the fight against the global warming alarmists. In this case I simply disagree with his assessment of this event – it doesn’t make him wrong or me right for that matter.

    As far as ‘sensationalism’, you got me there. In my view (at least at this stage) discounting ‘completely’ a more sinister possibility related to the subject is lazy and counterproductive… as is name calling for that matter. Many experts have identified this as a missile/rocket – experts that apparently have been privy (maybe due to their expertise in National Security matters) to more than we are seeing. Pondering the many possibilities (much like we do related climate change – sun, THC, UHI, albedo, GCR’s etc.) is a healthy approach to issues like this I believe. What we are led to believe is often not the truth.

    Sherlock Holmes Stated, “…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

    Is it impossible that this was a missile? Is it impossible that it was an aggressive act by China? I vote no on both accounts. It may not be probable but given the admission that the US did not fire the weapon and the distinct possibility it was in-fact a weapon, should we really take the path of least resistance and allow this event to just fade away as unexplained or explained away without thorough investigation?

    If that is what being ‘realistic’ is, I’ll pass.

    Maybe the news will take Anthony up on his challenge to recreate the video when that plane approaches again. If we see something even remotely as spectacular I will be the first to concede to being incorrect. I’m not going to hold my breath on that one though.

  141. So the official Pentagon story is that it was a plane, and NOT a missile. They claim that it was an ordinary vapor contrail over 300 miles long from the horizon flying horizontally.

    I’ve seen a lot of high flying aircraft vapor trails; never seen one like that. All the ones I have ever seen had a clear air gap behind the plane before the vapor trail cloud materializes.

    And going back to the original CBS vidseo after learning that it is not a rocket; but a high flying aeroplane; I’m even more convinced that it was a rocket; and clearly flying in a curved trajectory. Vapor trails behind jets; after 300 miles would be widely dispersed and see through; this is clearly a rocket exhaust; the optical density is far too high to be a vapor trail; and aircraft don’t fly in non linear arcs like this bird did.

    I will expect to see the video of flight 808 for the next couple of weeks to see how well it replicates this contrail path.

    Now the Pentagon says it is coming from the Horizon; so where is it heading to; and if it is going to LAX; why is it still so high ?

  142. Ockham’s razor, also spelled Occam’s razor, also called law of economy, or law of parsimony, principle stated by William of Ockham (1285–1347/49), a scholastic, that Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate; “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.” The principle gives precedence to simplicity; of two competing theories, the simplest explanation of an entity is to be preferred. The principle is also expressed “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.”

    It’s an airplane.
    mysearchfortruth, I appreciate your comments, I don’t buy into “sinister acts by the government” as you put it. You’re welcome to your opinions on this and AGW. The media has called this one, it was no rocket. I wish the media would be so kind as to admit that recent global warming is not “the end of the world as we know it” but they won’t. If your not a truther, then I retract that.

    When I say “rational people discussing reality” What I mean is a contrast between this site that deals in truth, as opposed to sites like those that end with the word “progress”. Hopefully you do not subscribe to them.

    As far as the truth goes, some of it is to be found here. That’s why I come here. If you agree then we have no conflict.

  143. the picture I saw on the news it looked more like a missile. my opinion since the plume is thick and right at the engine.

    a jet’s contrail usually starts slightly behind the aircraft and then fills out depending on the temperature. a minimum of minus 40 is required to make the contrail visible and lasting. also the contrails of jet aircraft are not normally as thick as that of a missile and you can often see the contrail of each engine before they blend together.

  144. George, one possibility is that it was an eastbound flight (808) heading for Phoenix. I too would like to see a second video taken on a later day and at the same time in similar weather conditions. That would go a long way towards putting this to bed. Put another way, we need to see “Phoenix level” rather than rising again .

  145. George E. Smith says:
    November 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    > Now the Pentagon says it is coming from the Horizon; so where is it heading to; and if it is going to LAX; why is it still so high ?

    It’s not going to LAX. Flight AWE808 is a daily flight from Hawaii to Phoenix. There will be lots of people looking for it while its still approaching the coast during sunset.

    No one ever said it was going to LAX that I’ve seen.

  146. Hi Anthony,

    You may want to update the article with both the fox news link posted by Crosspatch, along with the blogger’s page fox got the new contrail photo from. Both have some useful but different information.

    Crosspatch: November 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm Someone got video … same time next day: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/10/blogger-solved-california-missile-mystery/

    The fox page contains newer info from the DOD/Military, e.g., that it wasn’t them either intentionally or inadvertently.

    Hoping to be able to watch the new video contrail (e.g., day after initial ‘launch’) I followed the link from the fox page to the blogger, who identifies the original contrail as most likely from US Airways flight 808 (Honolulu , HI (PHNL) and ending in Phoenix (KPHX)), but possibly UPS flight 902: http://blog.bahneman.com/content/it-was-us-airways-flight-808

    Unfortunately it sounds as if he saw the new video from a Newport Beach webcam – so there is only the still photo on his site (screen capture probably). He has some good discussion of why missile experts ‘see’ a missile, while aircraft experts ‘see’ an aircraft. :0)

    A couple of other interesting bits winnowed from the comments section there. A link to: http://www.examiner.com/weather-in-los-angeles/missile-launch-over-southern-california-explained

    Quotes S. Cal. top meteorologist stating that this sort of contrail isn’t uncommon there:

    “However, Southern California’s top meteorologist Kevin Martin from the Southern California Weather Authority states it was nothing but a contrail from an airliner.

    “We see this often when the flights come at the right time, however some people are just out to witness it at the right time”, says Martin. “We had strong winds up there as well as really cold temperatures from a passing storm system. This also had an area of upper level moisture at 250 to 200mb, where airliners fly”.

    Martin described the event as too slow for a missile launch.

    “Even from Los Angeles, an ICBM from Vandenberg is very quick in the sky, not as slow as this looks”, he added. “I found archives from Monday evening from the San Diego area and came to the conclusion this airline was coming in from the west, at the observers. While it may look like a flame originating from the object, it is nothing more than sunlight bouncing off the airliner fuselage.”

    So everything does seem to point to an airliner coming in from over the Pacific Ocean. Martin also states that a contrail from a missile would have lit up after sunset, not diminished. Usually twilight missile launches bring a display seen for 600 miles around, well into the darkness of night.”

    Another comment from the blog site addresses the ‘persistence’ and apparent width of the ‘base’ of the contrail with a research cite. I haven’t checked the actual article or even for its abstract, but frankly I’d be very surprised if its not correct as I’ve spent hours outdoors periodically noting a contrail go from very narrow to covering large portions of the sky when conditions are right (I’m sure plenty of others here have also and of course this is nothing new to you!)… but for what its worth, that commenter said:

    Yes it IS possible for a jetliner.
    Persistent spreading contrails often expand into cirrus sheets that cover the whole sky.
    “Airborne Observations of Contrail Effects on the Thermal Radiation Budget”
    Peter M. Kuhn
    Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
    Volume 27, Issue 6 (September 1970) pp. 937–942

    Personally, I’d make a few observations in reply to some of the comments posted here by others. I believe the reason you don’t see the ‘gap’ between the object and the contrail as some expect if it were a plane is again a function of the angle. Because the plane is so high up, and coming almost directly toward you, the ‘gap’ seems to disappear. Someone said it couldn’t be a plane because you couldn’t see the plane’s running lights. A few issues there – first the plane was still in sunlight, where you wouldn’t be able to see the running lights anyhow. Next, the plane is passing into darkness (coming east meeting the line of dusk as it moves west), which is why the contrail would seem to start disappearing and then would disappear from sight – but its quite difficult to see running lights in dusk also, and by the time it was fully dark, you almost certainly wouldn’t be tracking where the plane was because of the optical illusion anyhow. Finally, when a plane is high enough it can be quite difficult if not impossible to see running lights at all.

    As to how opaque the contrail is or isn’t – that’s also thrown totally out of wack by the sunset effect. Looking at a contrail lit up by sunset isn’t at all the same as looking at a typical contrail during the day… think of a rainbow, or better yet, any sunset where clouds that may be quite wispy a few minutes before become brilliant and much more substantial looking for a short time as the sun sets. Just how substantial a contrail looks even during the day when widely dispersed is also affected by the moisture content there happens to be at that particular time at that altitude (and maybe also by the number of condensate nuclei?).

    Finally a thought on the ‘spiral’ of the contrail… frankly it looks to me to just be a function of dispersal as the winds push the contrail, and some different wind speeds or eddies along the path. Note how all of the movement seems to be in the same general direction, off to the left of the pictures or video. There was only a brief moment in one of the video’s where they zoomed in that a part of it did look possibly spiral to me, but I didn’t pause fast enough to take a closer look and didn’t go back to double check – but the spiral rocket contrail photos (or video) I’ve seen seem to have parts of the contrail moving clearly in one direction and parts in the opposite direction, and this one doesn’t, not even in that small part.

    As to the rocket booster separation claims – I’d have to see that part of the video, but can picture how a change in the angle or part of an aircraft the sunlight was being reflected from could seem to be a booster separation and next engine firing up… or if its contrail gaps being talked about, that could easily be wind differentials or something along those lines causing gaps.

    I hope someone does post the video from the second day’s plane contrail regardless!

  147. Oh, and a few folks have said that FAA ought to have any plane on radar and be able to identify it that way…. Someone by all means correct me if I’m wrong – but I’m pretty sure that above a certain altitude, and/or a certain distance out from major airports, planes are off any official radar.

  148. Oh, and anyone who’d like to see a really mind-blowing optical illusion (I know, there are a ton of them, but this one I promise will utterly amaze if you haven’t seen it before, even if you’ve seen a lot of different optical illusions), see:

  149. Jerry Said:
    “The principle gives precedence to simplicity; of two competing theories, the simplest explanation of an entity is to be preferred. The principle is also expressed “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.”

    It’s an airplane.
    mysearchfortruth, I appreciate your comments, I don’t buy into “sinister acts by the government” as you put it. You’re welcome to your opinions on this and AGW. The media has called this one, it was no rocket. I wish the media would be so kind as to admit that recent global warming is not “the end of the world as we know it” but they won’t. If your not a truther, then I retract that.”

    Hi Jerry,

    No worries about the ‘truther’ jab. I’ve been doing battle with the AGW crowd for years and have thick skin. However, I do notice contradictions in your response. First, your comment about Occam’s razor can be applied both ways. I could say that if it looks like a missile, flies like a missile and lights up the sky like a missile, and everyone thinks (or thought) it was a missile then chances are – IT’S A MISSILE. Applying the flimsy unsubstantiated evidence of ‘optical illusions’ to fortify your position and refute what appears contrary to more conventional wisdom (in this case provided by some rather compelling video evidence) is not enough. Ironically in the same papagraph you make a comment about the media having it all wrong on Global Warming.

    The media is not the gatekeeper of truth… that is up to us these days.

    Secondly, in your next comment you said that the media had ‘called it’ – if they did, so what? Show me something where the Pentagon admitted conclusively it was an airplane contrail to prove your comment because I don’t see it – not that I doubt it but show me something definitive please. I really have a hard time watching a massive Missile being launched vertically, adjust course, pick up speed, while spitting fire plumes and solid-fuel smoke and rocketing NW high into the upper atmosphere – and then having someone claim it was an effing commuter jet flying SE and was an optical illusion.

    An I didn’t say a ‘sinister act by government’ but rather implied a rather generic ‘sinister’ potential threat. There is a difference.

    IT’S A MISSILE – OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN! :-)

  150. I agree that is was probably flight AWE808. The flight track matches perfectly with the contrail we (Doug Spangenberg and I) observed in enhanced GOES-11 imagery taken between 0100 and 0200 UTC (5 – 6 PM PST). The persistent contrail was visible in the 4-km GOES data at 0130 UTC between 125 and 121°W. It pointed directly at Catalina Island and showed the same bend seen in the flight track. It advected to the south and broke up in the pursuing hour. Our persistent contrail forecast (nowcast) tool, based on the RUC,

    http://www-angler.larc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/site/showdoc?docid=33&cmd=forecast

    showed conditions were right for persistent contrails west of 32 N, 121W, just about where the contrail cuts off in the image. The altitude had to be between 11 and 13 km to get ice saturation conditions at the ambient temperatures, -51 to -64C. The forecaster does not indicate good contrail conditions today.

    The video shows the contrail relatively close to Catalina and the observer noted that it dissipated, if I am not mistaken. If it were at 12 km, it would be possible to see it up to 262 miles away from the LA coast. That would have permitted the observer to see at least 60 miles of the persistent contrail corresponding to that in the satellite image, in addition to the more rapidly dissipating trail closer to Catalina Island. Can post the images if anyone is interested.

  151. Airplane – little evidence for it.
    1. Why are there no other contrails? Should be a lot of flights.
    2. I cannot see separate trails for multi-engines.
    3. On of the pictures I looked at – starts dark, the gets brighter, then gets dark again.
    This suggests coming from the ground then getting into the setting sun, then into darkness again as it heads east.
    4. If it is an aircraft, they should be able to pinpoint it exactly.

  152. Anyone following this controversy should find the following links interesting:

    “Perhaps this NOTAM indicates the hunt is on now for the “Red November.”

    Xinhui will be back with his level-headed editorial and analysis soon, until then here’s the launch video (no, those aren’t jet contrails…)”

    http://china-defense.blogspot.com/2010/11/california-missile-launch-hunt-for-red.html

    http://www.cbs8.com/Global/story.asp?S=13468118&hpt=T2

  153. If a foreign government with capabilities to fire a missile were to do so, when would be the best time to fire it for maximum effect and minimal risk of being pounced on by our air-force or Navy?

  154. why don’t they ask the people on that carnival cruise liner that’s drifting around out there.. wouldn’t that have been the closest possible vantage point to see where it came from?.. with 3300 passengers, there had to be somebody on deck that could have seen it.. or maybe run out to Catalina Island.. there has to be someone who witnessed where it came from.. If in fact it came from a ship or sub..

  155. “We may never know what it was.” These words are being echoed all around the internet. The truth is we can now say with some certainty that the mystery object was not a ballistic missile. We know this because of a seemingly inocuous statement made in a CBS report that aired on “The Early Show” this morning. We got a critical piece of informaton from David Martin who interviewed KCBS cameraman, Gil Leyvas, who recorded the object from a helicopter. Mr. Leyvas describes his observations of the object at this link (after the commercial about 40 seconds into the report).

    Quoting David Martin referring to the cameraman “He zoomed in and stayed on it for about ten minutes”.

    As I pointed out in a post last night,

    “If you saw the ‘rocket’ thrusting longer than four minutes, you were watching a plane not a rocket.”

    We just needed the length of time the thrusting object was recorded. The Trident missile boost phase lasts about three minutes for all three stages–then, no more contrail. Thus the Trident and for that matter all solid rocket ballistic missiles can be ruled out because the contrail was tracked as it continued to propel its payload downrange “about ten minutes”. If the object the other night was a ballistic missile, I suspect it unwittingly left the planet and can now be tracked in outer space.

    This pretty much leaves everyone with the obvious conclusion, the mystery object landed at an airport somewhere “downrange”.

    My apologies if I screwed up on posting the link. If there are still doubts, then let’s see that raw footage from CBS, then we can determine whether it was 4, 5, 10, or more minutes. I am betting on six minutes and 30 seconds or more.

  156. For anyone interested, you can get many/most of the Vandenburg & S. Ca. launch schedules emailed to you, from: http://www.spacearchive.info/newsletter.htm <— & fyi that page has a small but spectacular photo of a 1997 evening twilight launch from Vandenberg AFB that folks might be interested in even if no interest in the launch alerts. The thing looks absolutely other-worldly.

    From one of the emailed launch alerts:
    To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit

    http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/launch-alert

    or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
    launch-alert-request@mailman.qth.net

    All sorts of info, links, photos of various missile launches/contrails, etc. at the sites' homepage: http://www.spacearchive.info/

    10 to maybe 12 years ago I happened to be outside in the Las Vegas area right at dusk and saw a really incredibly bizzare contrail/cloud formation above/between the mountains to the west, very convoluted, with what appeared to be a very very bright spotlight shining down on it from above, and some other odd lighting effects at various places. The 'spotlight' from above looked rather like a searchlight from a helicopter, only it was obviously a tremendous distance away – e.g., no way it could have been anything like a spotlight. It did not look like anything one would expect with a missile launch, airplane, etc. but was pretty spectacular.

    I watched for a few minutes, with little change, then had to turn away for literally only a split second, turned back, and the light below suddenly got brighter at the saame time the ‘spotlight’ was just suddenly gone. Some of the other odd lighting effects were still there and lingered for a little bit.

    Well….I’ve always been of the opinion that while life almost certainly exists out in the universe, probably in a countless number of locations, the chances that we’re currently being ‘visited’ are exceedingly slim. This thing? It is literally the only time in my life that the thought crossed my mind that “maybe, just maybe…. but naw, awfully unlikely, gotta be some good explanation for it.” Nothing I could think of seemed to ‘fit’ what I’d seen.

    Well, clearly I wasn’t the only one who had that thought cross their mind, apparently there were many calls to police etc., about a UFO, or odd lights, or odd clouds, or…. Radio stations, local talk radio were going on like mad about it. If I recall correctly it even made mention (although no photos) in the local late night newscast that night.

    The next day, sure nuff’, turned out it was a launch from Vandenburg that had gone wrong and they’d destroyed the missile in flight. I want to say it was a minuteman, but that was a number of years ago and I really don’t recall for certain. It was really impressive, however – and wind conditions had definitely helped make the contrail and cloud mix very interesting, very bizarre looking – plus I imagine the missile going off course, which was why it had to be destroyed, helped a bit also.

    I’ve never happened to see another launch from Vandenburg, but then I haven’t been really trying to either, even tho I get the launch alerts.

  157. I don’t know what this thing was.. and quite frankly.. I don’t really care. In the larger scheme of things.. it is of little or no importance.
    But to call it a “contrail”.. on a science site.. is THE MOST LUDICROUS thing I have read on WUWT.
    Contrails are made from water vapour which dissipates within a few seconds of leaving the aircraft.. much like your breath does on a cold night.
    Contrails do not hang around in the air after the plane has gone.
    C’mon Anthony.. its science man.. science.
    As huge fan and daily visitor to this site (since November last year anyway).. lately I have found myself very disappointed with the total LACK of scientific method applied to some recent stories.
    If you aren’t going to put on your science hat when dealing with these issues Anthony.. then just leave them alone.. and stick to climate. At least that way you won’t alienate fans such as myself.

  158. It’s not going to LAX. Flight AWE808 is a daily flight from Hawaii to Phoenix. There will be lots of people looking for it while its still approaching the coast during sunset.

    So California only has one flight a day? I heard you had a bit of an economic recession, but it must be reeaaly dead out there.

    On a contrailing day over Europe, the sky is obliterated by trails.

  159. After so much comment, the bottom line is:

    If this aerial vehicle is coming towards the camera, it is a contrail. A common illusion in an evening sky that I have seen many times.

    If it is going away from the camera, it CANNOT be a contrail. That particular illusion, highlighted at the beginning of the thread, cannot work with a receding aircraft.

    So is it coming towards the viewer, or away?

    I vote that it is going away.

    .

  160. re post by: ShaneCMuir says: November 11, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I don’t know what this thing was.. and quite frankly.. I don’t really care. In the larger scheme of things.. it is of little or no importance.
    But to call it a “contrail”.. on a science site.. is THE MOST LUDICROUS thing I have read on WUWT.
    Contrails are made from water vapour which dissipates within a few seconds of leaving the aircraft.. much like your breath does on a cold night.
    Contrails do not hang around in the air after the plane has gone.
    C’mon Anthony.. its science man.. science……

    /offbase rant

    Shane, it might behoove you to check your own preconceived notions of just what is or isn’t science before becoming so condescending and dismissive. A hint might be to check your own definitions when a lot of people use a term in a fashion that seems odd to you. The simple fact is that contrails quite commonly do ‘hang around’ after the airplane is gone, often for literally hours. They can even grow and affect the cloudiness of the entire sky. First, here’s a handy contrail guide for you – note the entries for “persistent contrails.” Especially note the photos. Frankly its hard for me to credit that anyone wasn’t aware of long duration contrails, considering how common they are. Anyhow, I’m sure you can google up plenty of information yourself, but to get you started in addition to the guide, see the info below.

    My apologies to all for the formatting below, but copied this from a google preview of a pdf: http://www.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-051013-001.pdf

    …..Depending
    on the temperature and the amount
    of moisture in the air at the aircraft
    altitude, contrails can either
    evaporate quickly or they can persist and grow. Engine exhaust produces only a small portion of
    the water that forms ice in persistent contrails. Persistent contrails are mainly composed of
    water naturally present along the aircraft flight path….

    After the initial formation of ice, a
    contrail evolves in one of two ways.
    If the humidity is low, the contrail will
    be short-lived. Newly formed ice
    particles will quickly evaporate. The
    resulting contrail will extend only a
    short distance behind the aircraft. If
    the humidity is high, the contrail will
    be persistent. Newly formed ice
    particles will continue to grow in size
    by taking water from the surrounding
    atmosphere. The resulting line-
    shaped contrail extends for large
    distances behind an aircraft.
    Persistent contrails can last for
    hours while growing to several
    kilometers in width and 200 to 400
    meters in height. Contrails spread
    because of air turbulence created by
    the passage of aircraft, differences
    in wind speed along the flight track,
    and possibly through effects of solar
    heating.

    Thus, the surrounding atmosphere’s
    conditions determine to a large
    extent whether or not a contrail will
    form after an aircraft’s passage, and
    how it evolves. Other factors that
    influence contrail formation include
    engine fuel efficiency, which affects
    the amount of heat and water
    emitted in the exhaust plume.

    Contrails become visible roughly about a wingspan distance behind the aircraft. Contrails can
    be formed by propeller or jet turbine powered aircraft. During WWII, large formations of bombers
    left strikingly remarkable contrail formations. Typical contrails are shown below.

    The contrails formed by the exhaust at high altitude are typically white and very similar to cirrus
    clouds. As the exhaust gases expand and mix with the atmosphere, the contrail diffuses and
    spreads. It is very difficult to distinguish aged contrails from cirrus clouds. At sunsets, these contrails can be visibly eye-
    catching and striking as they reflect the blue, yellow, and red spectrum of the reflected sunlight….

    Persistent contrails are of interest to scientists because they affect the cloudiness of the atmosphere…. (full article online)

  161. “ShaneCMuir says:
    November 11, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I don’t know what this thing was.. and quite frankly.. I don’t really care. In the larger scheme of things.. it is of little or no importance.
    But to call it a “contrail”.. on a science site.. is THE MOST LUDICROUS thing I have read on WUWT.
    Contrails are made from water vapour which dissipates within a few seconds of leaving the aircraft.. much like your breath does on a cold night.
    Contrails do not hang around in the air after the plane has gone.
    C’mon Anthony.. its science man.. science…….”

    You are in error and should check your facts before discrediting Anthony’s site. Rocket motor smoke does dissipate rather quickly. Condensation trails on the other hand can linger for a long time because they turn into ice crystals. Longevity depends on the prevailing atmospheric conditions at the specific altitude.

    Here is an extreme example. There was a shuttle launch back in July of 2009 (STS-127). It happened July 15 at 6:03pm EST. Two and a half hours later and approximately 250km WSW of the Kennedy Space Center I made this 6-minute exposure on large format film about 20-minutes after sunset, looking West over the Gulf of Mexico:

    http://www.josesuroeditorial.com/Other/Tests/1138678_nKNKC/11/1086571658_RDLKa/Original

    In his return email to me, NASA’s Jerry Bonnell wrote this: “……does look very much like the remnants of the shuttle’s contrail cloud, and i do think that is what it is…..”

    The contrail not only survived for over 2-hours, but it traveled West approximately 250km. There are quite a number of studies available on the subject of contrail longevity.

  162. Gerald Machnee says:
    November 10, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Airplane – little evidence for it.
    1. Why are there no other contrails? Should be a lot of flights.
    2. I cannot see separate trails for multi-engines.
    3. On of the pictures I looked at – starts dark, the gets brighter, then gets dark again.
    This suggests coming from the ground then getting into the setting sun, then into darkness again as it heads east.
    4. If it is an aircraft, they should be able to pinpoint it exactly.

    1. I have no doubt there were a lot of flights. Flights to/from LAX would be well below cruising altitude. Most flights would be from the “lower 48″ and even if you included Alsaska, none would be toward the setting Sun – except for Hawaii and international flights involving Asia.

    How many flights from Asia don’t land in California and press on to Phoenix or Texas? I have no idea. Should not be “a lot of flights.”

    2a) The plane was far away.
    2b) As noted in Patrick Minnis November 10, 2010 at 8:50 pm, “conditions were
    right for persistent contrails.” This suggests the individual plumes spread and mixed quickly.

    3) Perhaps the western stretch was breaking up or was in less persistent conditions and never became as substantial as the optimal area.

    4) Several people have – from recorded flight data, from GOES satellite images, the same flight seen the next day.

    Airplane – lots and lots of evidence for AWE808.

    Ralph says:
    November 11, 2010 at 12:53 am

    So California only has one flight a day? I heard you had a bit of an economic recession, but it must be reeaaly dead out there.

    On a contrailing day over Europe, the sky is obliterated by trails.

    Just because California has a big population it doesn’t follow it is a densely populated state or that the coastal sky is full of airplanes at cruising altitude.

    CA: 37 million people squeezed into 420,000 km^2, or 90/km^2
    Germany: 82 million people squeezed into 357,000 km^2, or 229/km^2

    Germany is surrounded by populous countries, Califoria is not (Nevada has 2.6 million) and has the Pacific Ocean for thousands of kms to the west.

    If you’re looking for obliterated sky in the US, look in more populated Eastern half and look well away from the coast. I think St. Louis was one of the areas studied for evidence of cooling by contrails in the mid 1970s.

  163. irRational Debate says:
    November 11, 2010 at 2:55 am

    “The simple fact is that contrails quite commonly do ‘hang around’ after the airplane is gone, often for literally hours. They can even grow and affect the cloudiness of the entire sky.”

    – and so it begins..

    That my friend is total and absolute hogwash!

    What you are talking about there is what is commonly known as chemtrails.

    There is a very big difference between contrails and chemtrails.

    Perhaps you should google chemtrails and learn a little a bit about what is currently going on all over this planet..

    I did not really want to get into this debate.. which I have had many many times in the last half a dozen years or so.. but I guess Anthony brought it up.. so..

    I have many links and references.. and we could talk about Barium and Aluminium until the cows come home..

    But rather than getting bogged down on the technicalities of how water vapour manages to spread out across the sky and become clouds.. mainly because there is now A LOT of dis-information out there now.. consider this..

    Think about all the ‘period’ films that have been made over the last, say, 50 years.

    If they were making a film.. set in a time before the 20th century.. and a plane came into shot.. they would have to shoot it again.. right?

    Now in all those hundreds, perhaps thousands, of period films that have been made in the last 50 years.. do you think they stopped filming for THE ENTIRE DAY when a jet plane flew across because of the contrail??

    Think of a Cowboy film (with big wide shots of the sky) being made in the 70’s or 80’s.. did they EVER stop filming for the entire day because of ‘persistant’ contrails?? … NO!!

    Surely you agree that a ‘persistant’ contrail would ruin the illusion of being back in time for these directors and cinematographers.

    There has to be a hell of a lot of people that have been on the set of a period film to ask about this too.

    The fact is that ‘persistant’ contrails.. (aka chemtrails).. are a relatively new phenomena. (about 7 years in Australia.. and from what I hear.. maybe as much as 15 or so years in some places in the U.S.)

    If you are under 25 years old and live in the U.S. then maybe I could understand that the difference between contrails and chemtrails could be confusing.

    The U.S. must have A LOT of jet plane traffic in the sky.. coming and going from all directions.

    But I live in country Victoria in Australia.

    When you see 20 ‘persistant’ contrails in the sky between 7am and 9am and they are all going roughly east-west.. it is bloody obvious something is going on.

    North-south traffic would even be ridiculous.. there would not be that many flights even between Melbourne and Sydney.. but EAST-WEST???

    There is no-where to fly to.. or from!!

    Persistant contrails IS A LIE!!

    Call them by their accepted name.. they are called CHEMTRAILS!

  164. All these silly theories about something quite ordinary: It obviously was a Chupacabran pilot having fun in his weather balloon full of swamp gas refracting light from Venus such that it ignited atmospheric phenomena, mass hysteria and some widely scattered light in the late afternoon hours.

  165. Long ago I was EOD stationed at White Sands Missile Range. I have seen hundreds of missile launches. This looks to me like a very large missile traveling away at an angle. It’s the angle that can make it look like it is going slow. Much like when you are on a straight road in the desert a car can look like it is sitting still when in fact it traveling at high speeds directly towards you. The thickness of the plume makes me believe missile over an airplane. The light from the object and the blur you see suggests a long distance. You can only see the flame like that on the larger ones. I will never say I can’t be wrong but I feel certain on this one.

  166. “”””” Ric Werme says:
    November 10, 2010 at 6:32 pm
    George E. Smith says:
    November 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    > Now the Pentagon says it is coming from the Horizon; so where is it heading to; and if it is going to LAX; why is it still so high ?

    It’s not going to LAX. Flight AWE808 is a daily flight from Hawaii to Phoenix. There will be lots of people looking for it while its still approaching the coast during sunset. “””””

    Well Rick, if it was going to Phoenix; then the altitude would be no mystery; and note I said “if” it was going to LAX; so nobody said it “was” going to LAX.

    One of the things that threw me, and maybe still does, is that the video showed the “object” curving to the north, which made it look like a rocket curving over as it rose, and begs the question of why would it shift to the north if it was coming from Hawaii and going to Phoenix; why wasn’t it over San Diego, instead of North of Catalina.

    But that flight path map above seems to fit pretty much with what I observed in the video; the little dog leg to the north and then a curve the other way.

    I could take a wild guess, and suggest that the flight path near LAX could be a precautionary plan to put planes in the vicinity of LAX should it have fuel shortage problems; say because of some wild head wind situation; and LAX would be a better destination than San Diego for a really big plane in an emergency landing situation; not that SD is any slouch of a place.

    So maybe that is the regular flight path for Hawaii-Phoenix flights.

    The CBS news bulletin I saw, said that the cameraman said it came from the vicinity of Catalina north about 30 miles offshore.

    If the helicopter was a mile high (5280 ft) then the geometrical horizon is at 90 miles roughly.

    Well if the earth diameter is 7921 miles; which you can write as 8101 -180, and the square root of that is actually 89 miles. There would be a longer optical range because of atmospheric refraction.
    But if the plane was at 37,000 feet (7 miles), and root of 7 is about 2 2/3 then the plane’s horizon distance is about 180 + 60 or about 237 miles plus refraction.
    So from the helicopter, the plain trail could be 326 miles plus refraction. I’m really surprised that a contrail would (a) be so dense and (b) persist so densely for so much time; I didn’t catch the 10 minute comment from the cameraman.

    The plane explanation would certainly seem to fit the bill; but it still sure as hell looks like a rocket to me.

    So maybe Dr Kaku not so koo-koo with the kaka after all; my apologies to that brainiac. The two guys on Noory’s program were still full of it.

  167. irRational Debate says November 11, 2010 at 2:55 am

    “The simple fact is that contrails quite commonly do ‘hang around’ after the airplane is gone, often for literally hours. They can even grow and affect the cloudiness of the entire sky.”

    ShaneCMuir says: November 11, 2010 at 8:29 am

    That my friend is total and absolute hogwash!
    What you are talking about there is what is commonly known as chemtrails.

    Nonsense.

    As a commercial pilot, I can assure you that contrails can last a very long time. I make them, I know.

    They slowly spread out, and quite often what you see as high-level thin stratus is actually many lines of spread out contrails. And since they are ice, they do not ablate ‘evaporate’ very quickly.

    And if you think I am up there with a bottle of chemicals, you are sadly deluded.

  168. re: ShaneCMuir says: November 11, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Shane, persistent contrails have existed as long as we’ve had flights high enough to form contrails, and that’s well documented. They’re certainly nothing new. I’m dating myself here, but I’ve watched and admired contrails, especially how persistent contrails develop and spread, since I was a little kid in the 60’s and 70’s. If you’re not aware of them having existed in the past this way, you are either too young, or you didn’t realize what you were looking at, or you weren’t observant, or you lived somewhere so remote there were few flights to create contrails and/or the air at the relevant altitudes was too dry most of the time. Its that simple.

    As to period films – as a kid my brother and I used to get a lot of fun out of noticing films or TV shows that inadvertently showed contrails that you are trying to claim didn’t exist. Especially when we could point them out to our Dad who was an engineer in the aerospace industry. I’ve seen them, granted not often, but you can find them in shows like Bonanza or Rawhide if you look.

    Persistent contrails are also in the scientific literature going way back.

    Notice the date:

    Endlich, R. M., G. S. McLean, 1957: THE STRUCTURE OF THE JET STREAM CORE. J. Meteor., 14, 543–552.

    Geophysics Research Directorate, Air Force Cambridge Research Center

    …Contrails were light persistent in the sector AC, moderate persistent in the sector CG, and heavy persistent from G to J….

    Or try:

    MURCRAY, WALLACE B., 1970,: ON THE POSSIBILITY OF WEATHER MODIFICATION BY AIRCRAFT CONTRAILS. Mon. Wea. Rev., 98, 745–748.

    The writer himself has seen instances in
    which a single contrail seemed to grow until it became an
    overcast covering the whole sky. If the con trail were indeed
    responsible, which is by no means certain, this would
    constitute definite proof that contrails are capable of a
    significant effect on local weather…

    or:

    Knollenberg, R. G., 1972: Measurements of the Growth of the Ice Budget in a Persisting Contrail. J. Atmos. Sci., 29, 1367–1374.

    If sufficient air carrier traffic exists, an entire overcast of contrail cirrus may develop and persist for hours with rapid growth in the ice budget of individual contrails….. the entire contrail and the generated virga was visible for almost an hour….

    The article talks extensively about contrail growth and persistence.

    Just go to http://journals.ametsoc.org/action/doSearch and search on related keywords or phrases, then you can sort by date. You’ll find a number of articles that talk about spreading contrails, persistent contrails, etc., from before the dates you are trying to claim persistent contrails didn’t exist.

  169. re: re: ShaneCMuir says: November 11, 2010 at 8:29 am

    East – west flights over Australia: http://www.flightmapping.com/maps/AustraliaNewZealand/

    Sidney to Perth, Mauritius, Dubai, Singapore (a bit diagonal rather than straight E-W), and the reverse of course. Melbourne to Perth and Kuala Lumpur and the reverse.

    There are quite a few more east-westerly & vice versa flights, go to http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/route-maps-australia-domestic/global/en and click on a city to see flight paths. And these are just domestic.

    These are just commercial flights. I would imagine that military flights may add to the number too.

  170. Crosspatch: November 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm Someone got video … same time next day: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/10/blogger-solved-california-missile-mystery/

    I think that’s quite convincing (if genuine and I have no reason to doubt it). Good observational evidence; a good scientific test. People who live there must see this very frequently, but the MSM has created a ‘story’ out of it. A scary story – the kind they specialise in.

    Does this just go to show how effectively the MSM control what goes on in peoples’ heads, like the fact that we’re all talking about it now? Anyway the MSM has been shown to have some very dodgy sources in the past, i.e. the ones who ‘give’ them other scary movies, of bad people.

  171. Unfortunately much careless talk herein, including claims I question:
    – aircraft anti-collision flashing beacons should be visible: I doubt that due distance and limited brightness of the beacons. (I also point out that sunlight reflecting off a shiny object is bright enough to fool the eye, even more so a video camera, detail is obscured – I once took a potentially great photo of a water bomber on the surface picking up water, except sunlight reflecting off the spray made the photo useless.)
    – contrails don’t corkscrew: sure they will, once far enough behind the aircraft that the strong wing-tip vortices rotate them. Basic airplane function, some people need to stop talking about what they know little of.
    – contrails don’t appear immediately behind aircraft: wouldn’t that depend on exhaust mixing which depends on nozzle design, and on temperatures? I think they appear quite soon after, a gap that is hard to see from a distance with sun brightness.
    – why is this the only one in the sky?: contrail formation depends on temperature thus altitude, also viewing angle is discussed herein
    – which flight number?: I’ll only comment that Alaska Airlines from Mexico to SFO is rather different flight direction than Hawaii-Phoenix (people, check your facts!).
    – missile launch: why would the military deny a missile launch that could have been seen by many boats and people, including some seeing the takeoff point? That theory does not make sense.

  172. Ok, you guys that say you can’t get the vid in your areas. Use your nogging, ans try to get it in different ways from Youtube. The same vid – same title or variation may have been posted by different people. Also, try tile/ttble variations vids, from the outside of Youtube. Other vid sites may have it.

  173. re: Jose Suro says: November 11, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Jose, I’ve been meaning to say that is a spectacular photo! Thanks for posting it. The convoluted looking trail you captured is somewhat reminiscent of the one I saw from Las Vegas. Here is another set of contrails that are also somewhat similar, although taken later at night than the one I saw, not nearly as bright and illuminated, and certainly from a bit of a different aspect. They’ll give folks the idea, however. This was a Minuteman II launch in 2002 from Vandenburg, with a number of snapshots of the resulting contrail over time . Click on any of the photos and they automatically switch to a large version of that photo. Several look rather amazingly like a unicorn leaping toward an upended cone… http://www.dosgatos.com/au/vafb/9-19-02-minuteman/index.html and links to a large number of photos of various launches at: http://www.dosgatos.com/vafb.htm

    But, Jose, that photo of yours really is spectacular. Did you use some special filters to enhance colors? I have yet to look thru your other photos, but believe me, I will!

  174. “”””” Rodders says:
    November 11, 2010 at 10:29 am

    irRational Debate says November 11, 2010 at 2:55 am

    “The simple fact is that contrails quite commonly do ‘hang around’ after the airplane is gone, often for literally hours. They can even grow and affect the cloudiness of the entire sky.”

    ShaneCMuir says: November 11, 2010 at 8:29 am

    That my friend is total and absolute hogwash!
    What you are talking about there is what is commonly known as chemtrails.

    Nonsense.

    As a commercial pilot, I can assure you that contrails can last a very long time. I make them, I know.

    They slowly spread out, and quite often what you see as high-level thin stratus is actually many lines of spread out contrails. And since they are ice, they do not ablate ‘evaporate’ very quickly. “””””

    Say Rodders,

    For reasons known best to the commercial aviation people; the sky area around the down town San Jose CA area seems to be a favorite watering hole for all sorts of high altitude flights; so when I walk out to lunch it, is not at all unusual to see a dozen or more contrails of various ages going in all sorts of directions; and on some days they persist for a long time. Now today when we didn’t have a very dewy morning; there still are contrails but much faster dissipating. I watched one plane at least 20,000 feet up, laying out a pair of trails, and I watched it lay them out for about a 90 degree arc across the zenith, and although the fressh trail was quite dense, at the end of the 90 degree arc, it had flattened out to a nearly invisible transparent wisp.

    But somedays they persist for hours, and then as the day moves on and starts to cool, those contrail remnants startto becoem launching sites for a cloud layer formation, and the sky between them starts to fill in. I once argued that the conditions around the edges of a cloud or trail, would be conducive to cloud growth from that surface; as I have watched many types of puffy clouds and wispy clouds slowly grow fromt heir edges.

    So I am sure that contrails are a suseful source of some cloud formation; that likely would not have happened but for the disruption caused by the cloud.

    And we should not forget; that cloud trails will form from engine exhaust gases; but they will also originiante from natural local humidity, due to the Bernoulli effect lowering the dew point as the plane’s surfaces pass through the cool moist air; well that’s what wing tip vortex trails are.

    And I have confirmed on many occasions that contrails do form around automobiles driving after warm rainstrorms.
    This is particularly common when driving over the grapevine going to or from LA, because it is also higher altitude up there.

    Took me a while to realize that all of that spray simply was not water kicked up from wet roads; when you see a car surrounded by a cloud, and the road is actually quite dry; then you catch on quickly to what is going on.

  175. http://petersantilli.com/

    quote:
    “China flexed its military muscle Monday evening in the skies west of Los Angeles when a Chinese Navy Jin class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, deployed secretly from its underground home base on the south coast of Hainan island, launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from international waters off the southern California coast. WMR’s intelligence sources in Asia, including Japan, say the belief by the military commands in Asia and the intelligence services is that the Chinese decided to demonstrate to the United States its capabilities on the eve of the G-20 Summit in Seoul and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Tokyo, where President Obama is scheduled to attend during his ten-day trip to Asia.

    The reported Chinese missile test off Los Angeles came as a double blow to Obama. The day after the missile firing, China’s leading credit rating agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating, downgraded sovereign debt rating of the United States to A-plus from AA. The missile demonstration coupled with the downgrading of the United States financial grade represents a military and financial show of force by Beijing to Washington.

    The Pentagon spin machine, backed by the media reporters who regularly cover the Defense Department, as well as officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the U.S. Northern Command, is now spinning various conspiracy theories, including describing the missile plume videotaped by KCBS news helicopter cameraman Gil Leyvas at around 5:00 pm Pacific Standard Time, during the height of evening rush hour, as the condensation trail from a jet aircraft. Other Pentagon-inspired cover stories are that the missile was actually an amateur rocket or an optical illusion….”

    The second article is equally as intriguing…

  176. @William From Los Angeles:

    Don’t worry William, because those of us who have worked at White Sands Missile Range understood what we were seeing.

    However, for this specific case, I would ask that you to get behind the “contrail” or “swamp gas” explanations on any public forums.

    You and I both know why I would ask that of you.

  177. NORAD (I assume) has the ability to track 1000 missiles, all with different trajectories, individually.
    I find it hard to believe this was some kind of stealth missile.
    Only someone very,very,very stupid would launch a missile from where it might appear to be coming from.
    The only people who really hoped it was real, were the Navy Anti-Sub Hunters :)

  178. @William From Los Angeles:

    I was at White Sands Missile Range from 1979 to 1994 and ASL and oftened worked with EOD.

    You and that WSMR EOD team were the most heroic people I have ever seen and you have my absolute respect!

    Some of the stories that we could tell…

  179. @William From Los Angeles:

    I was at White Sands Missile Range from 1979 to 1994 at ASL, where we often worked with EOD.

    You and that WSMR EOD team were the most heroic people I have ever seen and you have my absolute respect!

    Some of the stories that we could tell if ever allowed…

  180. Hi all,

    Just ran across this excellent post: http://contrailscience.com/a-problem-of-perspective-in-the-oc-new-years-eve-contrail/

    It includes many different photos, espec. from a virtually identical looking contrail that occurred Dec 31, 2009 – only they’ve got photos of it that not only look almost identical to this latest event, but also taken from very different locations and thus clearly showing it to be a jet contrail.

    There is also a link to a video that follows the jet/missile longer than the other video’s I’ve seen – to a point where the persistent contrail ends and it becomes a more typical contrail that only lasts a very short ways behind the vehicle.

    Then there is a link to a really awesome funky video of an Airbus A380 Contrail as seen from Cockpit Boeing B747-400 – showing clearly how jet contrails can end up spiraling.

    There is also a nifty composite photo – someone took subsequent photos of the Nov 8 vehicle, then put each onto a single photo side by side – so you can see how wind iis moving the contrail.

    In the comment section there is also the comment below with a link to a photo of the Nov 8 trail taken from a different angle and with a wide angle lens, showing a couple of other contrails at the same time.

    Written by Doug on November 9, 2010.

    Here is a picture I took of the event. Unfortunately, I only had my wide-angle lens as I was trying to get good sunset photos.

    http://flic.kr/p/8SfS7A

    To the left, there is the trail of interest…but to the right is at least two similar trails but with different angles. For the record this was taken at Hermosa Beach. Using the clouds for reference, I’m guessing I was south of the NECN coverage. I can’t tell with the Channel 8 video, but it’s interesting that the angle is the opposite…seems that it’s definitely a contrail to me since my pic has the opposite angle as the Channel 8 footage which wouldn’t be possible with a vertical trail.

    p.s., the comment and link by “Written by Cindy on November 9, 2010.” doesn’t go to a “missile” at all, but rather a portion of the human anatomy, be forewarned, its spam.

  181. ” I can’t tell with the Channel 8 video, but it’s interesting that the angle is the opposite…seems that it’s definitely a contrail to me since my pic has the opposite angle as the Channel 8 footage which wouldn’t be possible with a vertical trail.”

    Actually, that “opposite angle” was a major clue…

  182. Take a very close look at the video images and you will see that the right side of the “contrail” is bright and the it’s shadow is on the left side.

    Use any astronomy software and identify the direction of the Sun at sunset for that date. You will find that it will be Southwest instead of due East because of the time of the year.

    Twist and manipulate the video images with the bright side to the right and the shadows on the left, with your knowledge of the actual direction of the Sunset.

    Once you have figured out those angles, take a closer look at the video. Notice how the land was on the right side of the video and the ocean was on the left?

    Work with those angles and see if you can identify a rather major problem with the lighting in the released video images.

  183. “I wonder if I’m the first to call it, the reported unexplained missile launch off the coast of California, was US Airways 808.
    I did a lot of extrapolation of what flights could be at the right position (off the coast) at the right altitude (for contrail formation) and came down to two possibilities: UPS flight 902 (UPS902) or US Airways flight 808 (AWE808).
    As I was researching tonight (24 hours later), I realized that today’s AWE808 current position (at around 4:50pm) was almost the same as it was the day of the incident. I quickly pulled up a Newport Beach webcam and found tha (apparently) AWE808 was making an identical contrail, 24 hours later!”

    http://blog1.bahneman.com/content/it-was-us-airways-flight-808

  184. In an effort to put this thing to bed once and for all I went to my archives and pulled another shuttle launch photograph of STS-122. This particular image shows the shuttle and it’s plume from an angle very similar to the image recorded by the helicopter news camera. It was shot from a 15-story balcony, from 30-miles away. The original news release of the CA event mentioned 35-miles. The image is magnified by the use of a focal length of about 200~300mm. The news footage was more highly magnified.

    In my first post on this thread (Jose Suro says: November 10, 2010 at 6:16 am) I made the observations that a plume of the size shown in the news footage would a) need to be made with very big motors, and b) the rocket’s burning exhaust would be very apparent. The solid motors of the shuttle are the largest ever flown, and it uses two of them. Keep this in mind as you look at the images below

    Here is the original image of the shuttle launch:

    http://www.josesuroeditorial.com/Other/Tests/1138678_nKNKC/11/1087640020_sM5SJ/Original

    Notice the large and very bright exhaust flames. No such exhaust is shown in the news footage. Also notice how the image is quite dark in relationship to the brightness of the exhaust flames. This is because cameras do not have the necessary exposure dynamic range to capture both a correctly exposed background and the detail within the brightness of the exhaust at the same time in a single image.

    This second image below is the exact same image as the first but with a large contrast and brightness adjustment made in post processing to lighten the background to a normal exposure range:

    http://www.josesuroeditorial.com/Other/Tests/1138678_nKNKC/11/1087640085_6yEAN/Original

    Notice how now the exhaust flames are so bright as to be devoid of any detail. The point is that the exhaust is SO bright that it overpowers everything else in the image The camera does not have the ability to retain detail there at a normal exposure level. All of this happens in broad daylight – if the image had been made after sunset, as in the news footage, the exhaust flames would be even brighter.

    The plume is also worth mentioning. In the second image it is more apparent but still darker than the exhaust flames by a considerable margin. That image also shows that in the length of time of the flight the bottom of the plume still holds pretty intact with all of its detail, The one in the news footage is very diffused, proving that it has been out there for enough time for a strong wind (as in high altitude winds) to start diffusing it. The shuttle’s plume is also a bit smaller, this from the biggest solid motors, 2 of them, that currently exist.

    In short, the news footage looks nothing like a real rocket launch!

  185. Off-topic: It’d be nice if you used a full feed (not needed for comments, however). I have you and Chiefio in my feed reader, but still have to click through to read each article.

  186. 1. shunt1 says:
    “I was at White Sands Missile Range from 1979 to 1994 at ASL, where we often worked with EOD.
    You and that WSMR EOD team were the most heroic people I have ever seen and you have my absolute respect!
    Some of the stories that we could tell if ever allowed…”

    Thanks for the kind words. I never really considered it heroic but the job certainly needed huge nads. The kind you carry around in a wheel barrel. My training was good and the danger was manageable. Those were the best and worst days of my life. I know a couple of those stories and yes even after 22 years they still give me chills at night.

  187. Well, I’m embarrassed – the site I linked to and described in this post: Rational Debate says: November 11, 2010 at 9:12 pm and wrote a bit about is the homesite of the link Anthony put in his update already (his link a mirror site they requested high traffic sites use). The comment set is different between them, however, or at least appears to be on quick check… so I don’t know if folks would have found the panoramic/wide angle photo comment that I mentioned, but that’s minor compared to the site post itself obviously. So I gave folks a much longer description of what was there, but Anthony had already found and linked to it.

  188. Look up on Google about UFO activity around Catalina Island and you will see plenty. If the Gov said they didn’t do it then you better believe it. The Gov would not be launching any missile 35 miles away from Los Angeles without providing warning to Coast Guard to clear out the airspace. Just think what would happen if there was a mishap and the missle veared out of control into Southern Cal.

    As far as airplane contrail since when do you see a contrail that gushes behind a plane with such solidness and size? Give me a break, most of you have seen airplane contrail right over your house from various angle and they do not remotely resemble this. Pilots might say that general aviation flighting below a FL 180 do not have to provide flight path….that is true. But when do you see small, light general aviation plane produce contrail that can only liken to a missile launch? None.

    As far as the possibility of a foreign country launching this that is absurd. Russian and China would not be this irresponsible unless they risk massive retaliation from a very jitter Homeland Security. And for Iran or North Korea, they wish they had the capability to do this 10,000 miles away from their homeland.

    Don’t discount the UFO origin. There are eyewitnesses to this event who stated that whatever was at the tip of this contrail was “football” shaped and was spinning. If you look at the CBS video(not a snap shot on the web) and you will see a spiralling of the contrail. Have you seen a jetliner contrail that spirals? No, they simply spreadout and dissipate.

    Don’t let the Pentagon fool you folks. This is no plane contrail. The only plausible theory is that of an extraterrestrial origin

  189. LP says:
    “Don’t let the Pentagon fool you folks. This is no plane contrail. The only plausible theory is that of an extraterrestrial origin”

    I find it unlikely that creatures advanced enough that they are able to cross many light years distance to get to this planet would be using chemical propulsion.

    I do find it interesting that a NOTAM went out right after this incident clearing the area for over a day.

    http://china-defense.blogspot.com/2010/11/california-missile-launch-hunt-for-red.html

  190. My dad titan 2 missile gyro engineer, saw dud launches, and a couple in a tight spiral
    like this heavy inter continental ballistic launch. These without clearance carry large
    10 megaton nukes, large E.M.P. or smallpox – hemorrhagic virus warheads. No joke
    with the cover up, a childish cowardly shakedown president with zero ethical pride,
    we nearly had a genocide launch and a 911 explanation an Oklahoma self bombing scenario. We get told to find intelligent ethical religious men around the world and destroy the homes and families of those nations who protect them.
    Southern California will continue to receive cover up by any deadly force or genocide
    bio weapon that comes to mind including the next or 4th nuke attempt on that doomed city area, man the weather is great there, why kill tons of people? I have several patents on energy devices, one can pump water continuously unpowered
    and irrigate or produce food at astoundingly low cost, my life is doomed. Polygraph in
    courts or modern civilization will stop, the oil royalty wants others like me and you
    readers dead. Russia pulled out polygraphs and ended the internal civil war 20 yr
    ago, follow Russia!

  191. I can’t believe how naive, gullible, and goofy everyone is sounding, including scientists and members of the American Government, stating that this is not a ballistic missile launch. Look at the plume. If that is a commercial jet aircraft, why doesn’t all of the commercial jets produce a plume of that magnitude? Someone said it’s a stunt plane. The plume is too large, and the ballistic missile keeps going ever higher in the sky first vertical, then horizontal towards the west; why would a stunt plane be rehearsing, training, etc. that far away? There’s lots of “big sky” and “big country” east of California where there’s no power lines or other interference. Someone said Aliens; come on man! Aliens? That’s a weak “cop out.” Take it from a 20 year Navy Veteran whose seen ballistic missile launches and other type missile launches; IT WAS A BALLISTIC MISSILE LAUNCH. Even former Admirals, Generals, and other Military experts and Scientists affirm and confirm unequivocally that it was a ballistic launch; from a submarine mind you. And if it wasn’t an American sub, it must have been from either China, North Korea, or some other nation making a very solid and “scare you” statement to America. Truth of the matter is, if it had been DEFCON Day, we would have been attacked by surprise and many cities taken out in minutes with little to no time to prepare. What’s really surprising is the Government downplaying the incident and being almost eerily silent with little to no response; any responses to date sound silly and foolish to say the least. If we find out that it was China, N. Korea, or some other enemy power, we need to respond in some way including declaring war. Maybe launch one of our own ballistic missiles off of their coast(s)!

    REPLY: yeah, sure, whatever. It was photographed the next day, sample place, same time. Flight AW808 from Hawaii to Phoenix. Game over. – Anthony

  192. I am guessing you did not read most of the comments. If you had, in addition to the Phoenix flight, you would have learn that the CBS cameraman who filmed the contrail, tracked and videotaped it for about ten minutes. Can you please explain which ballistic missile maintains chemical (solid/liquid your choice) propulsion for ten minutes? Also, in the interview he asserts he tracked the object in his opinion from the horizon towards the shore. My wild guess is that he actually watched it longer than that–as the plane headed over land and he realized it was an airplane. But why ruin a great video? Cut it down to something short n sweet and no one questions the obvious–length of time under thrust exceeds all ballistic missiles.

    After the commercial, go into the David Martin article about 40 seconds.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7040407n&tag=related;photovideo

  193. Chinese sub made the launch according to this video to send a message to Obama and Japan. Timing of missile launch shortly before Obama met with his Japanese counter partner.
    “If the US holds Navy exercise launching missiles off coast of China, we do the same off your coast!

Comments are closed.