Pentagon Can’t Explain ‘Missile’ Contrail Over SoCal Sky

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon said Tuesday it was trying to determine if a missile was launched Monday off the coast of
Southern California and, if so, who might have fired it.

Spokesmen for the Navy, Air Force, and other military organizations said they were looking into a video posted on the CBS News website that shows an object shooting across the sky and leaving a large contrail, or vapor trail, over the Pacific Ocean.

The video was shot by KCBS-TV’s Sky 2 helicopter.

“Nobody within the Department of Defense that we’ve reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is, where it came from,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said.

Lapan said that “all indications” are that the Department of Defense was not involved within the mystery object, and that the contrail might have been created by something flown by a private company.

CBS News military analyst Army Major Mike Lyons (Ret.) talks to KNX 1070’s Linda Nunez

Normally any missile test would require notification so that mariners and pilots could be warned or air space closed, but that may not have been done in this case, Lapan said.

“It does seem implausible, and that’s why at this point the operative term is ‘unexplained’,” he said. “Nobody … within the Department of Defense that we’ve reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is.”

Missile tests are common off Southern California. Launches are conducted from vessels and platforms on an ocean range west of Point Mugu.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, issued a statement jointly with the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, saying that the contrail was not the result of a foreign military launching a missile. It provided no further details.

“We can confirm that there is no threat to our nation, and from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military,” the statement said. “We will provide more information as it becomes available.”

NORTHCOM is the U.S. defense command and NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian organization charged with protecting the U.S. from the threat of missiles or hostile aircraft.

FAA Spokesman Ian Gregor later released this statement:

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

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • sc

    I am a commercial airline pilot and retired USAF aviator, what you folks are seeing is a contrail from a jet coming in from the pacific, nothing more, I was flying over Californai last evening and noted this event myself. the flashing skin is merely a reflection of the skin of the jet from the angle of the sun. It was not a rocket, come on people.

    • Paul Janders

      I have seen contrails like this from jets many, many times. The jet is actually coming toward you in level flight but due to the affect of foreshortening it looks like it is rising straight up. If you are not an artist and are unfamiliar with foreshortening please look it up on Google.

      I am not a pilot and I don’t live in California but I have seen this is a common sight from my home Michigan.

    • James Hall

      not a contrail…have u people never heard of san nicolas island…come on people do a little research.

    • Skeptic

      you’re either a liar or an idiot, take your pick

      • Manram

        Well said.

    • Rich

      sc you must be a prop 19 fan

    • Doc Sharp

      Well, I’m a pilot and I say you have no clue what you’re talking about. Growing up on the space coast of Florida, I’ve seen my share of missile launches and that, Mr. Pilot is a missile launch.

      • Peter

        Amen to the missile launch. We can speculate all day and come up with umpteen gazillion theories as to what it was but until someone actually comes forward, while walking the beach, and has footage it will remain a mystery. Like most of you I say it was associated with the military and certainly no commercial airliner. If the Shuttle took off from Catalina island, the military would probably say it was a weather balloon, they must be smoking some good drugs.

    • J.S.

      The problem with the jet contrail theory is that jets have been flying in and out of LAX for over half a century, and this is the first and only one that looked like this.

    • frank

      I agree. We see this all the time in Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara. Come on folks, it’s just an airplane!

    • rady

      As a former naval aviator I completely disagree. The angle of attach is way to high, all you have to do is look at the starting point near the horizon and you can clearly see its climbing and moving away from the coast.

    • Smarty Pants jr.

      Not likely as the video shows what appears to be a fast moving object flying away from the point of origin, in this case away from camera. Most likley it is a private atmospheric measuring device that was launched by a private company. Some companies do not always adequateley inform local and regional authorities before they launch an object. Nevertheless, it is interesting, and worthy of further investigation.

    • Glenn / CA

      Not at that angle of ascension.

    • Matt

      Nice try, except if the jet was COMING in it would not appear at the far end on the comtrail. Some people are fatalists, but in this case it is warranted.

    • Vice Adm. Hissen

      And I am a Navy Vice Admiral Adjunct to the Join Chiefs of Staff. What you are seeing is a Chinese stealth submarine demonstrating that country’s displeasure with the Federal Reserve monetizing $600 billion of our own debt. It’s an emabarrasment to our military that we could no detect this vessel. But then again, we spend more money subsidizing hostile foreign countries than we do on our own military research and development.

      • James Hall

        Here is some research…SAN NICOLAS ISLAND, NAVAL WEAPONS TEST FACILITY, located EXACTLY where the missile came from. Part of the Channel islands off coast of LA…DUHHH!

      • Vice Adm. Hissen

        It may come as a shock to some of you, but I am not actually in the military. Although my speculation may be close to the truth, the point I was trying to make was that you can’t trust anyone in a public forum to be who they say they are. It is highly possible that some of these folks are being paid to troll the public forums and place doubts or misinformation in our heads to keep us from the truth. Do your homework. Research, question. Rinse. Repeat.

      • Noah

        I agree!” China has doubled it’s military and it’s just not for looks! We will be attacked eventually by China with the help of Russia. For them to lose a hundred thousand soldiers does’nt mean anything to them. I hope a Republican is in office when this happens. I’d rather fight to the death than give up to the enemies of this world.

      • Allen

        Looks like and feels like a submarine (from foreign nation or even US) firing cruise missile (most likely rocket assist powered), not ballistic, to show vulnerability or to test defenses. If shielded with radar absorbent materials device would not appear on radar.

    • CarmaDogma

      It’s ironic that this kind of breach has quietly escaped status of last night’s breaking news, and that it is just now appearing in the headlines. I smell a media blackout request. On VCStar last night, on an entirely different story about VCSD deputies getting new fingerprinting equipment, someone commented that there were black helicopters flying around North T.O. as well as several black sedans, SUVs, ect in the area. My reply to the person was that someone important was probably coming to the Reagan Library but now I wonder if it is related.

      As to this being a plane contrail, you obviously didn’t see the video. Ironic that it isn’t even on this site, but I found it on a news site OUTSIDE THE US and it was apparently shown on CBS News.

      No mention of it in the VC Star. People and companies don’t just launch projectiles of this magnitude into the sky. I suspect somebody on a submarine from a different country or even our own armed forces pulled a major “oops” and it is being shuffled under the carpet to prevent an international incident.

      • Mike in Newbury Park

        I seriously doubt you would see anything in the VC Star about anything at all, other than maybe a bake sale at the Thousand Oaks library.

      • Greg

        Proper coverage of a real mystery would include interviews with the relevant sources. In this case, the Pentagon’s Dave Lapan was the single authority providing answers, if you can call them that. He even delivered the statement from the FAA spokesman. Had Ian Gregor been available for interview, surely he would have been asked if the FAA had identified the aircraft. (The statement on record seems intentionally vague.)

        On Wednesday I found a blogger who had located Notice to Mariners 45/2010. Notice# 434/10(18) was an ‘intermittent missile firing operations advisory,’ which appeared to be active and pertain to the area in question (though I can’t say for sure because I haven’t taken the time to get nautical map savvy). It suggested how ships should avoid the area so I was wondering if there was a similar advisory (NOTAMS?) for aircraft. SO, I googled…

        I found a link to CNN’s Larry King Live Blog. They were going to cover this story on Monday night and the blurb said something to the effect that the FAA seems to have known about this event because it had issued a no-fly— and that was all I got. The link went to a story that had been removed. There is no cache for google news stories so I tried to locate it on other engines. All caches had been replaced with a different story: Why Ricky Martin stayed in the closet so long. However, I did save images of what I told you I saw.

        Sorry for the long wind. This is the first time in my life that I think I may have caught the government in an out and out lie to the people. I know it happens but watching it unfold in front of me is eye opening.

    • Rick

      BS!! That’s a trident missile fired from a sub. It can’t be a Tomahawk either because the trail is much too large. If it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. No military ship around, so it must be a sub.

      • James Hall

        no ship around but THERE IS AN ENTIRE ISLAND!!!! San Nicolas Island, naval weapons test facility…does anyone research anything anymore or are we just all suffering from blogarrhea?!

    • Steve Maki

      ya right ur the expert

      • Simon

        Hey did anyone see Alabama lose to LSU this past weekend, so do you think the tomatoes wiill be good next spring and wow what about all those ants in South America that eat everything in their path?

    • Peter

      California not Californai. That is a mighty large “chemtrail” not contrail and at what altitude do you think this plane was flying? The FAA did not have any planes in the air at this time when it was filmed and 35 miles north of Catalina Island during the statement. What kind of plane do you fly and how many hours do you have under your wing? Anyone can claim they are (ex military) so pray tell.
      :) (knowthyself)

    • not buying it

      So how is it that it came out of the OCEAN?

    • Brian Sweeney

      Aloha, I live in Maui and I saw the missle launch from the north east shore of Maui. My brother lives in China and he is an expert on Chinese affairs. The missle was launched from a Chinese submarine to demonstrate to the United States that they can put a submarine between Hawaii and California, to launch a Ballistic Missle that will reach anywhere in the Ubited States. Perhaps it is just one of their capabilities. They have commandeered the Internet for up to 20 minutes and they can shoot down our satellites.

    • Al Costanzo

      You need to get your eyes checked out. “Reflection of the skin of the jet from the angle of the sun” do you really expect people to believe that?? People are not stupid
      regardless what you might think. I don’t want to list my credentials to so you can speculate if I know what I’m talking about but I assure you I’m very familiar with contrails look like and what causes them and the answer you gave is absurd.
      AC New Mexico

    • MC

      @sc…so then, Sherlock, where was it taking off from, as it’s trajectory is upwards?!!

  • System

    Actually there was nothing in the sky at all. This is just a situation of collective hysteria over some unusual cloud formation.

    Go back to your comfort zones. Who cares anyway. Like truth matters anymore.

    • Constantone

      I would vote for you in a minute.

  • mister s

    Has anyone called Hawaii? You know…… to make sure they’re still there?

    • lp

      LOL’d to that one! funny!

  • RE

    Agreed. Clearly a commercial aircraft contrail. The angle portrayed in the two dimensional video is misleading.

  • GE

    sure ok . a contrail and a missile launch don’t look a like at all.

  • Alexander Walker

    This vapor trail was visible at sunset last night from Santa Monica. It was about 20 miles north of Catalina Island. It was quite a smear on the horizon. I often watch the sunset there and planes don’t leave this heavy of an imprint. And their trails are in the sky and not leading down to the ocean.

    It wouldn’t be so hard to believe that a foreign submarine fired off something. It wouldn’t be the first time a submarine got close to the American coast. I hope this is being looked into.,

    • Peter

      Knowing what happened during 9/11 it just shows how complacent the US military has become or most likely they know full well what is happening and are doing “I don’t know” routine which they are so good at. Good observation with the “plume” starting at the horizon and not at 10,000 feet during take off at LA-X. Were there any serious head winds that would warrant such a dispersal of jet pollution into the air? Ah no! Thought so. I heard some where in norhern Cal, in the early 2000’s that a chem lab found airborne nanites or something vaguely similar and yet was casually dismissed right over the Berkeley area. How wonderful to know that the military is playing with new toys at our expense! (the information is just hear say not factual)

  • Kris

    So it was a commercial aircraft taking off from Catalina or did it come straight out of the ocean. LOL. Because that is the location it came from, the middle of the pacific. I believe it came from a submarine.

  • scootysdad

    Sorry. I broke wind too hard.



  • eugene hawkins

    Remember Red Otober? Don’t be silly as many jets that fly over LA and arm forces jets flying over LA heading to Edwards Air Force Base from San Diego, do you really think people are that limped brained SC? You must still have some jet fuel residue still left in your lungs. That was a ballistic missile shot from a subamrine in the Pacific Ocean! I hope One of the arm forces lie and tell us it was one of theirs. If not we’re in trouble, buddy!

  • alein lover

    It was an alien ship, my grand ma wanted to marry this guy, and he seems to have been an alien, ( we all though there was something wrong with this guy, he loved his Halloween suit and make up so much) and when he found out she already had called the priest for the dinner party they were supposed to have together by the beach, he just lunched straight through the ceremony. you see my grand ma lied about her late pregnancy. She just loved this guy, he seemed to like his Halloween suit, and his green makeup. so she wanted to keep the guy.She told us she loved the guy, because anytime he was around the watches would stop working, the stove would not work ( electric stove) so she felt ageless….what is wrong with you people, you only think, military stuff. it was my grand ma’s boyfriend. that is all

    • Matt

      Eat Slugs!


    the end is near Tom Cruse is right! Its Scienctology my good friends don’t fear Lord Zunes return!

    • Sam

      It’s Lord Zenu, Get yer friggen aliens straight! So the truth comes out about Scientology once and for all
      Zenu who used mind control to convince
      L. Ron Hubbard that Thetans were trapped in
      volcanoes & tomatoes were dangerous tools of Xenu (or maybe Xenu was a figment of L Ron’s warped mind…)
      The Truth is that-
      L. Ron founded the Church of Scientology to make
      billions of dollars by telling you that you’re trapped and need to give them lots of money to be set free.
      Use the mind God gave you and set yourself Free from THEIR bonds.

  • eugene hawkins

    You don’t have to cry, ” The Red Coats are coming, The red Coats are coming!”
    They are already here! And this time it isn’t Great Britain! How about Russia, North Korea, China, I don’t dare say Iran, and their friends, this conversation would not be taking place!

  • HM

    Someone played a joke on RiverDave. They shook his bud light lime in a paint shaker and when he opened it, it took off like a missile.

  • krakahead

    Ugh, has anyone thought to consider if it were a missile it would have laded somewhere and went boom? And since that has not appeared to have happened it could actually be a contrail.

    • Matt

      Not all Missles have explosive warheads…some missles are used for measure atmospheric conditions, too.

      • Surfer

        …..and some I heard carry those 72 virgins. Lately they had to reconsider the virgin thing, since virgins are for guys, they found out ladies were getting the 72 guys, so they had to change that plan. no more virgins.

  • Alice Vierth

    Anyone ever thought of calling up Branson and seeing if he might be practicing his Virgin Airlines to the Atmosphere?

  • DEE

    I’m so confused

  • RE

    The contrail is not rising out of the sea, it is emerging from the horizon, which is about 3 miles at sea level. The upper atmosphere was cold and windy last night, explaining the width and distortion of the trail. Note it remains beneath cloud level and is not on a direct trajectory into space. Gimme me a break people, these conspiracy theory reactions are so old school. Ok, it landed at Area 51, too.

  • Jeff

    I like the way the crawl at the bottom is positioned before you hit play. “RAGE SPEED: 63 MPH” instead of “AVERAGE SPEED.”

  • Hawk -Man

    So much for Home Security huh?

  • Noah

    A ballistic missle in broad daylight? Someone was flexing their muscles and it’s pretty obvious that they wanted us to see it. I would say Chinese. A message to Obama pertaining to all the money it owes to China. China will attempt to attack us eventually. They will attack with the aid of Russia. When the time is right. They have alot of soldiers here already. Just like Japan had thousands of soldiers stationed undercover in China and Korea during WWII. Then they attacked.

  • g

    its a probe to check out that doomsday comet thats close by..c’mon, do you really believe the U.S. doesn’t know what leaves the southern california coastline?

  • xxx

    It was ICBM, you can see on video that it drop second stage, there is clar zoom in and it is cleat that it WAS rocket

  • abcpc1

    “Contrail” theory is interesting…however, the END of this “contrail” is coming STRAIGHT UP…out of the OCEAN. As far as the “Hey if it WERE a missile, it would go BOOM” somewhere…not really, they can SELF DESTRUCT it at ANY time.

  • Dave
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