Pentagon: ‘Mystery Missile’ Contrail Was Probably Airplane

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon says that an airplane and not a missile launch was the likely cause of a large vapor trail in the skies off Southern California’s coast.

KCBS/KCAL’s Sky 2 taped the vapor trail that many viewers thought resembled the cloudy track of a missile in flight. But military officials said they did not know of any rockets being launched in the area.

Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan says that officials are satisfied the phenomenon was an airplane vapor trail distorted by camera angle, winds and other environmental factors.

He says military experts studied the video and talked to all the government agencies that might have been involved in a missile launch and none reported having launched one.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Cinque

    Come on….I’m not a conspiracy theory-type at all but their answer sounds like a load of B.S.

    • William "Bill" Gray

      Our government has been notiously guilty in the past of orchestratint dis-information to the public to avoiid possibly alarming the public. Fact is, the government still has no idea who fired what was certainly a missile type devise of the western shoreline.

      I am a retired air traffic cointroller with nearly 12 years at LAX Tower in my resume, and have seen many contrails from aircraft arriving from Hawaii and points from the west overseas. When they arriive at of near sunset, there is often an optical illusion that causes the aircraft to appear to be originating at sea lever and climbing as it travels east toward our coastline. However, tthis object originated on shore and climbed away to the west. NOTE: The ehaust flames clearly visible at the rear of the object as it departs away from rather towards the camera. An inbound aiccraft would not show these obvious flames. If one could see flames coming from an arriving aircraft inbound from the rest, with todays aircraft engine technology, the pilot would have certainly declared an emergency.

      Moreover, contrails from overseas arriving aircraft from the west have never been so dense or thick.

      Mis-Information is what its called.

      William “Bill” Gray

      • Cedrik Lewis

        go back and review the original cbs photo i was as not a very clear photo like what is being shown now on tv now it was a little darker,look in the 1-2 o’clock position you will see a fighter jet in persuit of the missile the jet also has a blinking light on the front. .

      • Rogerio Rodrigues Lourenço

        My name´s Rogerio Rodrigues Lourenço and i´m brazilian.
        Everyday, i read NY Times searching for news around the world. When i read the “Mystery Missile” i think that would be a terrorist attack. Now a days we fear any news like this. I still thinking in a “MIssile” version.

        I hope a day the truth comes to us.

        Best regards.

  • Jim

    Then why did the FAA claim noting showed up on their radar?

    • justcallmerich

      The FAA doesn’t track optical illusions. They do track real flights like US Airways flight 808 from Hawaii to AZ – which is what pretty much everyone who has looked into this has found to be producing the huge contrail – and which came back again, sort of like a regularly scheduled flight might do….

      • Mike

        I agree.

  • matt

    Come on CBS! You guys know this wasn’t a plane! What about last Thursday? Did they take that video also? Have you tried to get the 1K visible, water vapor satellite from NOAA at that time? It should easily be seen the path! Surfline HD surf cams at that time faceing that direction.

  • Joe Dionne

    The military and air traffic control knows the origin, destination and time of virtually every thing in the air.

  • Jen

    HAHAHHAHAHHA!!! Seriously that’s what they’re going with?!?!?!? You’d think our government could come up with a better lie!

  • Paul J. Burke

    After all this time you haven’t fingered this out?
    It’s US Air flight 808 from Hawaii, which comes past that area every evening about 17:45 PST.
    The long smeared trail behind the “missile” is typical of a constant altitude contrail being affected by wind shears.

    • Sam Kapila

      It’s clearly not as is it not on any of the records as such a flight as the one you are describing, certainly would be.

    • Debunkthis

      The flight track for US Air Flight 808 puts it East and South of Catalina Island. Do the photos of the supposed missile look like they came up from this area? Also, Flight 808 would have continued to remain at cruise altitude since it was enroute to PHX. Thus, we would have seen it’s contrail continue Eastward. Does the supposed missile trail continue or fade out?

      Here’s the flight track. Zoom in…

      CBS merely needs to contact Digital Globe to obtain photos from space. Unless the DOD has made them not available…

  • Leonard

    Love the “Probably” part! If it were an airplane coming in off the Pacific you would think that it would not be such a unique situation, we would have seen one before.

  • willblogforlols

    When did airplanes suddently start taking off like rocket ships?

  • Bill

    Look – I watch the sunset every night from my living room. The trail of this atmospheric anomaly was that consistent with a rocket/missile – I’ve lived in So Cal since 1963 – born here. We KNOW what rockets look like. Give me a break! PLEEEEEZ.

    • Mike

      Bill try looking at a different vantage point then just your living room, its looks quite different from 20 miles north or south of your house.

    • just call me rich

      Really? Google “Missile Sunset Launch” and take a look at a few REAL missile launches from Vandenburg. Notice how the contrail of a real missile gets WIDER at the top, gets very squiggly, and gets BRIGHTER as it reaches higher and higher into the sky? Now look at flight AWE808 from Hawaii to Phoenix and notice how its contrail does NONE of those things…

      The news can clear this up pretty quickly by comparing a REAL missile launch to what they saw and point out a few of these things.

    • Born Again Billy

      I just want to know how the government disseminates information to the editors of all relevant papers to pass along information that contradicts the conviction of every citizen that witnessed it with their own eyes? How do they do that?

      Follow the money/power trail for anyone who cares to… I’m planning on escaping this mess with my Lord, JC… but I digress….


      • Geo

        word billy i’m outtie as well

  • UFOhhhhhh....

    .”.it was a fleet of seagulls passing gas in the sky.”
    said the authorities with a heavy sigh
    we know thats an explanation they’ll buy
    cuz everybody in L.A. is high

    • Gwennifer

      oh God that’s funny xD

  • MrCalico

    It was two military jets, they flew right by my window here on Wilshire BLVD!!

  • jack

    an airplane? why just one trail if hundreds take off from LAX in just a few hours? would telling the truth create panic? it’s a rocket, and it’s obvious.

  • Debunkthis

    The flight track for US Air Flight 808 puts it East and South of Catalina Island. Do the photos of the supposed missile look like they came up from this area? Also, Flight 808 would have continued to remain at cruise altitude since it was enroute to PHX. Thus, we would have seen it’s contrail continue Eastward. Does the supposed missile trail continue or fade out?

    Here’s the flight track. Zoom in…

    CBS merely needs to contact Digital Globe to obtain photos from space. Unless the DOD has made them not available…

    • just call me rich

      contrailscience has the pics and a prediction of another appearance tonight at roughly the same time.

  • matt


    RANGE CONTROL (805-989-8280 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 805-989-8280 end_of_the_skype_highlighting OR 306.6) FOR DECONFLICTION. 09 NOV 22:00 2010 UNTIL
    10 NOV 01:00 2010. CREATED: 09 NOV 15:17 2010

    • just call me rich

      The date is right – but the time is 9PM to 1AM the next morning – well after the 4:50pm sunset.

      Optical illusion – its not climbing it is coming in from the West. Yes – Flight AWE808 from Hawaii to Phoenix, to be specific.

      I have seen missles launched in the same general area (Vandenburg) and they look a lot different from this. Not even close. When a missle launches upwards, the contrail gets lighter and lighter and wider and wider as the pressure drops and sun is not behind the earth. This one is basically the same color all the way West to the horizon. The light flashes you see are the suns reflection off the metal of the plane. Remember, the sun had set and was below the horizon, so the bottom of the plane acted like a big mirror.

      Google “Missle Launch sunset contrail” to see what a real missle launch looks like, and go to to get all the details.

      Please, someone help get the sciences better funded so people learn more about this type of thing in school!

      • jon cross

        It is quite simple to verify that this is not a contrail of a plane heading east. The light of the sun would be under the trail, illuminating the entire base of the trail. However, quite to the contrary, the base or what would be the belly of the supposed “plane” contrail is dark in the centers and light on the edges. This if very apparent as the object blisters out of site to the west, and only the lower right side of the trail is illumined. A simple light test will show you the difference of how a plane trail on a horizontal plane would be lit, versus the verticle trail of the rocket, shown in the images reported.

  • Greg

    I was travelling to San Pedro via the Vincet Thomas Bridge last night, Tues. Nov. 9, and saw a second ‘Plane’ contrail eminating from the same exact area at around 4:55pm (I checked the clock). I haven’t heard anything about the second plume, and I tried to capture it while driving, but couldn’t. Did anyone else notice the one from last night? If there is such a big deal made of the one on Monday, then this should have been a top news story – “A SECOND Mystery Trail was seen in the same location…” And no, it wasn’t a Jet aircraft. Common sense rules that out quickly. ANYONE who has ever seen a launch knows a 747, etc. CAN NOT leave a billowing cloud that size. And if so, there would have been a ROW of them. Apparently the Gov’t wasn’t expecting to have to cover this one up…

    • rex

      exactly Greg. they didn’t expect a news helicopter entering their little world of black ops…

      Don’t get me wrong, we need to keep MILITARY secrets.. Just don’t insult the public intelligence with childish explanations………. it leads us to mistrust.
      We would understand and respect something like : ” this incident is part of America’s national security efforts.”


  • Larry

    If it was a plane, then shouldn’t the plane and two separate contrails be visible like in the video at and shouldn’t it appear on their radar? A similar unexplained video is at The videos remind me of Revelation(NIV) 13:13-14 at or Maybe it’s time to repent.

    • IL8756

      The religious fanatic never ceases to amuse me.

  • Starman007

    I keep hearing and reading about this BUT……NO ONE HAS BEEN ASKING!! where did it GO???? if it was a missile??? Space? aborted and blew up? crashed in the pacific?? Why is it such a BIG secret??? was it a military mistake during training?? if so….So what! what harm is there in revealing it?? They tell us they are launching another spy satellite…so whats the BIG secret about this? And how could anyone think or make us believe it was an optical illusion? The whole thing stinks like rotten fish!

  • Saber 1

    How can you expect the Goverment to be honest with us when the current Administration is in office? They lie, cheat and steal on a hourly basis.

    • Paul J. Burke

      That should be “any administration”. This is no worse (and even better) than the one it replaces.

  • Paul J. Burke

    When the video image is aligned with the scheduled approach of Flight 808, it corresponds nicely.
    Sunset was almost directly behind the plane.

  • richard grimm

    Once again the Obama regime and their crony Gates think the public is moronic … even when we have real-time video to examine. A missile expert today definitely confirmed what every alert adult already confirmed – the contrail was that of a missile, not an airplane. Now there’s a real reason to keep pursuing this to get the truth. If it wasn’t ours, then might it be a sublte message from our Chinese friends??? Keep asking questions!

    • justcallmerich

      What ‘missile expert”? How about the folks over at who have images of similar events of other planes doing the same thing – long contrails with a sunset behind them? How about this intelligent discussion from slashdot:

      Your eyes can and have fooled you. It was predicted that it would happen again today by contrail science just by looking at the flight schedule of flight 808 – and a poster above confirms that same thing happened again – as predicted.

      Not to mention that this just looks flat if you look at the lighting and wind effects – wind travels in layers at different speeds at different levels. A plane traveling through the sky stays in roughly the same plane of wind. A missile will cut through wind shears which twists the trail and turns it into a giant squiggle in the sky that stays lit well after the sky turns dark THAT DID NOT HAPPEN HERE – which further supports the plane theory. Weather images show the contrail as well traveling from West to East – in alignment with flight 808.

      But go ahead and stick to your “Obama regime” theory and see how well that works for ya.

      • rex

        former commander of the 6th Fleet, retired Vice Adm. John Stufflebeem said it was A MISSILE !!!!

        I’m going to call him an expert.

  • Johnny D

    Save your conspiracies. Here, read this and watch the video. Look similar? See how slow it is moving? It’s a plane.


  • steyci

    tell me the truth people wat is going o with those weird clouds

  • steyci

    that was not a plane come on people

    • JustCallMeRich

      That was a plane. Come on people.

      Flight 808 from Hawaii to AZ. People saw it again today and I suspect as long as the cool weather holds and keeps producing long contrails, we will keep seeing it about the same time every night.

  • Sam

    You mean to tell me we have an unauthorized plane flying around off the records, off the flight logs, that our radars didn’t pick up? Now I really feel safe. Come on! I call BS. All flights are tracked and logged. If it were a plane they would of known this on day one by checking all the flight logs and flight patterns. Something is definately suspect.

    • JustCallMeRich

      Just because you haven’t got the information doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Here, I’llclue you in – it was flight 808 from Hawaii to Arizona. Daily flights – and as long as the arrival over our coast and the weather pattern holds to making nice big long contrails, we will keep seeing it around the same time. Go watch it and see if I am right.

      • rex

        Oh, I see……. tell a lie long enough, repeat it enough times and it becomes the truth. Or at least distorts the truth.?

        This seem might important to you JustCallMeRich. Makes me very suspicious.

  • Valerie Barrett

    We all see planes flying this route, they never look like this or it would be common knowledge and on the news frequently. The government is obviously hiding something they do not want us to “panic” about. No one has mentioned the possibility that the cruise ship that is broken down might have been in jeopardy and maybe this missile launch has something to do with protecting that ship, no one really tells us what is going on. It could have something to do with Obama’s field trip too, who knows! I just wish the lie’s would stop and the truth was told, it is our taxpayer money after all. Oh yeah, and know one’s radar saw anything, REALLY???!!!!! I call B.S!

    • JustCallMeRich

      Valerie – it was flight 808 from Hawaii. It came again today as shown by another poster here. It is happening all the time – which is probably why people don’t notice it and then are amazed when something like this gets misidentified as a UFO or missile. Had the video continued, you would see that it flew over the LA basin and into Phoenix. But don’t worry – it is a regularly scheduled flight, so it will be back for you to see again and again and again…..

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