LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Pentagon officials said Tuesday it did not know what created a vapor trail that crossed the skies over Los Angeles on Monday night, but they insist the contrail was not the result of a foreign military launching a missile.

Video posted on the CBS Los Angeles website shows an object flying through the evening sky Monday that left a large contrail, or vapor trail. While cruising the skies Monday at sunset, Sky2 captured on video what appears to be a missile making its way up into the sky from over the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.

Pentagon officials were stumped by the event. “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.

Pentagon Says No Missile Behind Contrail: KNX 1070’s Charles Feldman Reports

While the vapor cloud captured on video resembled that created by a rocket in flight, military officials said they didn’t know of any launches in the area.

Lapan said that “all indications” were that the Defense Department was not involved with the object.

One expert called it an optical illusion. “It’s an airplane that is heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun,” said John Pike, director of the U.S.-based security analyst group globalsecurity.org.

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 details.

“We can confirm that there is no threat to our nation,” 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.

Pike said the object could not have been a rocket because it appeared to alter its course.

“The local station chopped up the video and so it’s hard to watch it continuously,” Pike said. “But at one place you can see it has changed course — rockets don’t do that.”

Pike said he didn’t understand why the military had not recognized the contrail of an aircraft. “The Air Force must …understand how contrails are formed,” he said. “Why they can’t get some major out to belabor the obvious, I don’t know.”

Judge for yourself by watching this raw video from Sky2.

Or have a closer look at some of the screen shots we’ve taken.

(credit: CBS)

PHOTOS: Mystery Missile Launch Off California

Have a theory? Send it to StreetTeam@cbs.com.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (149)
  1. Lorrie Laible says:

    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.

    1. Mallori says:

      Oh my! That is shocking. They must have known… Someone knows. What is that the gov’t doesn’t want to tell us?!?

      1. matt says:

        Presently, the video is under the seizure of the US Department of Defense for investigative purposes! hmm…

      2. Mike says:

        Of course it wasn’t a missle. It was a new type of jetliner that can take off out of the ocean and fly straight up. Also there is no Area 51 and the government dosen’t know anything about flying saucers.

    2. clubted says:

      Saturday morning there was a destroyer at the southern tip of Santa Cruz Island and later that evening a friend said he saw a carrier there. I’ve never seen a Navy ship out there, much less parked. Can’t be a coincidence.

      1. AviationIsAHomelandSecurityThreatandImaSheep says:

        One carrier group is doing Carrier Quals out of North Island NAS in San Diego, and another is doing their last qual before they go on cruise (tour).

    3. jb says:

      Yesterday Monday the 8th I was driving southbound on the 5 where it meets the 60 east, there was a passenger jet being tailed or escorted by another smaller jet. I could not tell if it was military or not. It looked Like an A-10 or something similar. The jet was flying just south of downtown heading east and then made a turn toward LAX.

      1. Kent says:

        I was driving the $)% home by the airport and saw that jet being escorted. I thought it was wierd but didn’t make the conection to this. The escort jet followed it ff it’s south with. The plane landed on the south runway and the escort jet veered off after the jet was very low and about to land. It was a commercial jet but not an american carrier. I did not recognize the markings. The escort was an A10.

    4. Mike Woodward says:

      Lorrie. Here’s the deal. 1. I have a picture from a slightly different angle that shows the same “Con Trail”. The Atmospheric conditions if you notice show a bunch of moisture at altitude that Airliners typically use (FL 360-390) coming back into LAX from Honolulu and other overseas departure points. They flew the “Tracks” high at that and this “Mystery” is not a mystery.

      A possible Missile is BS. It was an Airplane that was simply on it’s way to the US of A.

      It was a contrail and I have a time stamped picture from off of the coast of LAX to prove it was not from a military base or otherwise. All of this Hype is BS. Anyone that wants the pictures can email me.

      1. dave says:

        So the FAA saying there was NO aircraft in the area at that time in that direction, and the fact that the trail starts at sealevel 35 miles west of the coast doesn’t mean anything??
        We have a new airport out in the water now?

      2. dsutherland says:

        Mike – what is your email address – I am very interested to see these pictures that u have..thankss!!! or maybe you can post them for all to see – it may be easier that way – this way, you can clear up the confusion for everyone and put this story to bed

      3. bing says:

        look at the video! if you can still find it un-edited.

      4. Bill Grandi says:

        Hello Mr. Woodward,

        I would really appreciate if you will email me your pictures. This whole episode really intrigues me. Thank you for your offer and your time.


        Bill Grandi

      5. bill claggett says:

        your a straight idiot how many milssile launches have you seen? I have been in missile systems in the army for almost 20 yrs there is no plane that can move that fast.

      6. smarterthenyou says:

        You are truely stupid Mike

    5. AviationIsAHomelandSecurityThreatandImaSheep says:

      Yes, because Pilot’s are all in on it, aviation is just an exposed and civil arm of Homeland Security, and anyone that has heard of Bill Gate’s name can’t find air traffic control recordings at liveatc.net. You’re right, contact the pilot for he holds all.

    6. CoMan says:

      Sounds like someone is not talking! It could be Balloon Boy’s Dad trying a new experiment or any of the below. If they don’t make it to space…we will find them in the ocean soon.

    7. tie says:

      I saw the same thing happen last saturday. there was a huge object that left a contrail that went over orange county towards riverside. it was much higher than planes typically fly. i called my husband to find out if anything was happening, but no news was reported about it, so i didnt think much of it until tonight.

    8. blip says:

      this was a top secret training exercise. I can’t say anymore. But this story will fade away.

    9. John Tee says:

      They knew. I definitely was NOT a jet contrail. Just the usual Govt. B.S.

  2. LIZ says:


  3. Dave says:

    Now fox news says it was an airplane… Yeah, right… airplanes always have a plume of fire coming out of their engines…

    1. John says:

      Maybe it was a qantas a380 flight? 🙂

      1. Hide says:

        Yes maybe so, I mean A380’s are known for big contrails.

    2. Michael says:

      Its not fire, its moisture. Any idiot can see its traveling way too slow to be a rocket, and the sunlight in the sunset is illuminating moisture, just like it would for a cloud.

      This is where conspiracy theories just get annoying: If the USA launched a missile, they’d make damn sure it was no where near the American coast, and if it was any other country it’d be pasted all over the news.

      Let’s be realistic here, folks.

      1. john a says:

        really? I work in LA at the top of the 21st tallest building facing the ocean and see every plaethat travels over the ocean at suset.
        They leave amazing contrails but the contrails do not come out of the ocean passed catalina island.they dont look like that.
        You want to know what does look like that? surface to air ballistic missiles being launched from submarine.


      2. Nick F says:

        You are an idiot. Did air force 1 also not do a flyover of NY? After living within 10 miles of the Burbank airport for over 5 years this is clearly not a jet.

        I am more concerned that nobody has claimed responsibility for this as I fly this route at least 10x year and I don’t want to end up like Lockerbee.

      3. Rick says:

        Unfortunately you are incorrect,a ballistic missile or rocket travels very slowly (relatively speaking) during its boost phase and doesnt reach extreme speeds until it is has exited the atmosphere.

        Your second point is just as wrong as missiles are routinely launched from land (vandenburgh) with westerly trajectories over the pacific.

        Whats annoying are people who post without knowing what they are posting about.

      4. Doug says:

        “If the USA launched a missile, they’d make damn sure it was no where near the American coast,” Ummm, Vandenberg Air Force Base. Right on the coast.

      5. Roy Charles says:


      6. Rhaz says:

        I was thinking the same thing…scare tactics

    3. AviationIsAHomelandSecurityThreatandImaSheep says:

      You’re right. It was fire. In fact, the entire sky was on fire. Sunset? Don’t be ridiculous. It was obvious that spaceship was making the entire sky red. In fact, I’d call you unlearned to say that contrails or any other cloud turns red at sunset. Yes, that entire line of “red” was fire, from the “missile” to the ocean. Thanks, Dave.

      1. Dave says:

        Wow… your a reader… too bad you don’t comprehend…
        no one said all the contrail was fire… if you LOOK at the vid, you can see the flame at the end of the missile right where the contrail starts… not a cobntrail of fire.
        Even Robert Ellison, the ex secretary of defense, said it was a missile that was “Bigger than a cruise missile” and not a plane.

    4. PHILL says:


      1. dave says:

        show me one commercial airliner with afterburners…

  4. Samuel Laible says:

    I tried getting Lorrie to join the Mile High Club, but she wouldn’t do it. 🙁

  5. Thomas O says:

    Anyone want to bet that North Korea just decided to test a sub launched cruise missle over our coast?

    1. Lyndsey says:

      I pray this is not the case…..

    2. AviationIsAHomelandSecurityThreatandImaSheep says:

      No, because they can’t feed their people or notice when we accidentally fly into their country.

  6. LeRoy says:

    Yeah, I’ll bet you. How about we wager a six piece from Popeyes?

  7. gizmo says:

    If no one on our side claiming for this launch, would of Norad detect it as a sub launch and place our nation on alert?
    if this happen in the 80’s. a squadron of Bomber would be heading to the fail safe by now.

    1. Gabriel says:

      I don’t think so. My theory is this, China has announced this year their new submarine and have been dumping loads of cash into their naval system as well as other defenses. Russia flies bombers over Canada in old cold war tactics and sails their subs around Alaska. I think that this was a Chinese or Russian sub causing alarm for the USA. the question is this and oops wrong button, hey look we can get here you didn’t see us, Or is this a Check, your move?? We saw a huge flock of migrating birds flying towards Hawaii, look what disaster followed in Pearl Harbor. I think a foreign sub came in and showed off the fact they could do so and that if they wanted the missile could have gone east not west. I think this is serious and is a Check and we have to figure out how to not be in a Check Mate situation.

  8. Paul C says:

    The quality of this clip is terrbile. Why bother shooting HD if this is the quality you post online?

  9. JoAnne says:

    Now it’s a jet contrail, and it’s not moving vertical
    it’s an Optical illusion

  10. Mike B says:

    “Now fox news says it was an airplane… Yeah, right… airplanes always have a plume of fire coming out of their engines…”

    The glow could easily have been sun reflected from the body of a commercial airliner. The pulsating effect of the reflection could be heat haze/atmospheric distortion due to use of the long lens.
    What is surprising is that apparently an airliner cant be ruled out, surely radar tapes would record the target?

    1. AviationIsAHomelandSecurityThreatandImaSheep says:

      Because of funding issues, radar stations like the one at Point Mugu NAS (Naval Air Station, a US Navy Military Base) can’t afford to use their radar for all the “targets” in their airspace.

    2. Ed says:

      The FAA has 2 digital ASR’s within range of there (LAX North and South) and there’s probably also an ARSR within range. With common ARTS, there is zero chance that any air traffic within 35 miles of LA won’t be recorded and backed up for posterity for at least 45 days. The only way this target wouldn’t show up on radar is if were traveling at least the first blind speed of the radar, which due to staggered PRF’s is probably well over 3000 Knots–an impossible speed for an aircraft.

  11. Orange you glad you weren’t there?

  12. Mike says:

    Thomas N.Korea barely made a rocket; you really think they could make a sub that could fire missiles… LoL

  13. Realist says:

    I find it odd that NO ONE else out of a HUGE population of people like Los Angeles would have another video or at least a photo of this missile or whatever it may be. Only one news station had captured it. Just really odd. Same with all the UFO sitings that have been claimed. Only one video. Missiles make noise, lots of noise, even at 35 miles, someone would have heard it, seen it, something. Unless I see more evidence of this being a missile, I’m not convinced. And If Obama shot one off for China, that’s a misuse of resources and a waste of taxpayers $.

    1. Charles says:

      My wife and i were walking on Venice Beach Monday at 4:45 p.m. and we saw the plume. I immediately assumed it was the Navy testing missiles. My wife had her cell phone with her but we did not think to take a photo then because, while unusual, the plume seemed to be headed away from the beach.

  14. steve c. says:

    They seem to have checked with the military, which may or may not admit the truth. However, it is difficult to judge the size of the object causing the trail. It is possible that a private company or university was conducting a scientific experiment.

  15. Roger Rabbit says:

    You guys have too much time on your hands!

  16. C.M. Butts says:

    mentos and a 2 liter of coke is my guess……

  17. Chas says:

    Based on the colonel’s propensity for placing blame where it does not belong, I wonder if he was involuntarily retired?

    1. Joe says:

      Chas, if you didn’t serve, you have no standing for a comment like the one you made. I am a Disabled Veteran, retired from the Marine Corps.

      Get a life!!!!!

  18. Dodi says:

    It was an illusion that the contrails were vertical although they were really horizontal because the airplane was traveling from West to East & the setting sun made it a spectacle. Now I don’t know the relevance of blaming Obama for this non-event. For those who would like to try my explanation, you only have to stand close to LAX near sunset as one of the airplanes come in from the Pacific ocean at contrail level homing toward the LAX VOR.

  19. Jim says:

    Probably a test missile from the nuclear sub OWS (One World Ship)
    George Soros.

  20. Drumner says:

    It’s a jet flying toward the camera over the horizon. Those are the horizontal vapor trails. I don’t know why the camera didn’t just keep rolling and see it’s just a jet coming into LAX or something.

  21. jr says:

    Just another airplane flying high in the sky… it looks like its a rocket trail, but it’s just an illusion. What was more strange, was i was driving late home last night, and out of nowhere this bright light just shot straight accross the sky. It was no shooting star (i was right in middle of the city), and it could’ve been a firework, but there were no other explosions or sounds, just fell staight out of the sky.

    Wish i wouldve known what that was all about…

    1. Jeremy says:

      Hey I saw that light too – last night @ 9:30 – I was walking my dog in Redondo Beach, freaked me out – definitely wasn’t a normal shooting star – was more like a giant firework way up in the sky.

  22. dherbst says:

    How about an Aurora flight from that unknown area 51?

  23. Lt. Col. Donald Penopscot says:

    God Bless You for your service, Joe.

    1. Doug says:

      Hey, aren’t you Hot Lips Houlihan’s boyfriend on M*A*S*H

  24. daskipper2@gmail.com says:

    Hey KCAL…these were YOUR pilots…what do THEY say…?

    1. AviationIsAHomelandSecurityThreatandImaSheep says:

      Thanks, daskipper. Because pilots know everything and have super power and are dangerous and live in a world no one else lives in and are different than you, it would make sense to ask them.

  25. Doug says:

    UFO’s had finally made contact but saw what a mess California was in and are bailing outta here.

  26. John says:

    Do you really think the government would tell you if they were doing secret missle testing?

  27. Dean says:

    You are all wrong. It’s clearly the Wicked Witch of the West on her way to Maui. She was in Century City visiting with her lawyer.

  28. JM says:

    this is fake footage and the scammers will pay.

  29. Rick Topf says:

    It is a meteor. Nothing more. Keep your eyes open and you will seel more.

  30. Bruce says:

    Signs and Wonders in the Sky. Book of Revelation

  31. Peter Karpf says:

    Did anyone notice the “exhaust” color changing to Green just as they cut away?

  32. J mac says:

    West over Catalina means San Nicolas island, which belongs to the military, not to mention in the other big news story the USS Ronald Regan aircraft carrier was diverted to bring supplies to the crippled cruise ship of Mexico. That mean a Carrier battle group is sitting off California right now.. War games

    1. AviationIsAHomelandSecurityThreatandImaSheep says:

      Close, but it makes no sense to have a Carrier Battle Group if that group didn’t follow the Carrier everywhere it went, right? Actually, there are 2 carriers right now off SoCal. One is doing Quals for the hornets at North Island NAS (San Diego, qualifitying for carrier landings) and the other is finishing up their last quals for their upcoming cruise (or “tour” for the army and Marine folk).

  33. J mac says:

    Rick, surface to air missiles are some of the fastest off the pad around.. That object in the video has solid rocket motor written all over it..

  34. Wing Nut says:

    It was missile, and it was not a reflection of a con-trail. Now here is better question where did it park itself? To paraphrase Tom Lehrer from That Was The Year That Was:

    “”Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
    That’s not my department,” says Wernher von Braun.” “

    For the UFO an USO people; what extraterrestrial would be dumb enough mark there location by launching a large object.

  35. special K freebee says:

    Crock of B.S. the Media was too lazy to care to tell the truth they didn’t varify it they are pulling your chain to gain TAGS in their comments. Nuke NBC

  36. stuart says:

    USAF weather control program. Been going on for the past four years locally Google: chentrails. Idiiots.

  37. Charlotte Elyse Whittaker says:

    anyone else live in Torrance and see the 2 fighter jets fly over yesterday right around 3pm?

    1. GT says:

      The two fighter jets were NSAWC F-18’s departing Long Beach airport. You can see photos of them at APSOCAL.com. Look under the KLGB thread.

  38. meatball says:

    check out these 2 d5 missile launches…look


  39. Charlie says:

    I’m a retired jet fighter pilot. This is clearly a jet coming toward the camera. It is so high that, with the sun on the horizon, the sun hits the bottom of the contrail. That always makes it look red. It’s going way too slow for a missile. It’s shiny on the bottom. That’s the flickering glint for a short time. A missile would have that flicker all the time from the rocket flame. The chopped up video that is mostly zoomed in makes it look bigger than it is. The last of the still photos shows the trail clearly all the way to the horizon. You can even see that it is following almost the exact path of a previous aircraft who’s contrial has nearly dissipated. It’s no mystery if you would just show the entire video.

  40. Bill says:

    Wouldn’t one way to test a missile destined for the US be to go to near where the missile is targeted for, and fire back to where the missile would eventually be fired from? Just my “safety critical system” background talking…..

  41. CarmaDogma says:

    I’m pretty sure this either wasn’t ours, or if it was it wasn’t intentional. Lots of questions… Why couldn’t FAA paint it? If it was a sub, why didn’t San Nicholas get a ping that close to its vicinity? I’m sure the small crew stationed on the island are currently undergoing debriefing. Navy has locked down the area both sea and air through tomorrow.

  42. kevin says:

    Rocket hobbyist testing out toys I bet … I think it would be neat to build a big rocket too, but there are laws and regulations against it.

  43. kevin says:

    If it were terrorists in training, it wouldn’t be hard to find out where they are being launched from. Remember a few years back, the blackout in NewYork, then a week later one in London? I still think those were test electromagnetic shield bombs being tested… fries electronics. (just like a nuke, without the radiation explosion)

    These could be tests to see our reactions to those situations … I’m just speculating the “what ifs”

  44. MIke says:

    Wow, so many inexperienced and so called experts are saying things that clearly show they no nothing about this. I have been a pilot for many years first living in the Santa Maria area then in Southern California. I naturally look up almost everytime I hear an airplane. I have seen many missle launches from Vandeberg both from the ground and from an airplane. I have seen 100s of jet contrails. The wind shear at different altitudes can distort the missle plume to make it appear to change directions. Commerical jet engines do not have red fire on their tale. I have never seen a contrail that thick. The trajectory is simular to a Vandebreg launch except going more northernly out of the Pacific. What about the cameraman saying there was a simular sighting a few days earlier. If this is not a fake or distored video, my expierence says it is a missle. If is was only 35 miles off the coast and if the FAA was not informed to clear the airspace then it was an accidently launch or an non US military illegal launch. If there is more video then that might help.

  45. Geo Koh says:

    One thing is for sure. This is no jet contrail. It is clearly a large missile or rocket. Either the guy from Global security is completely incompetent to be hosting a security website, or he is purposely assisting in disinformation until the govt/military can decide what to report on it.

    imho, it is either a mistaken launch by a faulty US platform (sub or surface) and it is being covered up, or it’s a missile from a Chinese sub as a subtle message to disclose their capabilities and for USgov to basically shut up on rewarding the human rights winner and protest to Obama in touring India, Indonesia and Japan.

    1. AviationIsAHomelandSecurityThreatandImaSheep says:

      He’s incompetent, but “Geo Koh” know what’s up on cbslocal.com. Oh, and “IMHO” turns out to be real humble. What kind of incompetence does it take to only capitalize one word in a two-word pronoun, all while claiming an expert in an industry they have no idea about is incompetent? On a 1 to 10 scale, numbers being the magnitude in which Geo Koh is a moron?

  46. j9 says:

    I live in the Inland Empire and last night at about 10:00 p.m. I saw what I thought to be a shooting star, but was different it started out brighter and shot across the sky then flames came off the back and It lasted for a couple of seconds then it exploded. I have lived here for a few years and see shooting stars all the time but this was nothing like I have ever seen. Not sure if related just a wierd coinsidence.

    1. Mark A. says:

      The streak in the nighttime sky you are describing would likely be a huge meteor, otherwise known as a bolide.

  47. Frank says:

    The only thing i can think of is it was a nuclear missile from a sub. only thing that makes sense other wise the government would have blown that thing up or told us where that thing was heading because it was most likely followed by radars and satellite right after it hit a high enough altitude. Im sure they know where its going. they just cant tell us and some thing that big can go a long way that thing looks huge.

  48. Patrick B says:

    That is no missile test launch… there is a deep underground network of tunnels and entrances that run from Kansas to Dulce New Mexico to Cheyenne Mountain to Area 51 to Edwards Air Force Base and a relay station near Palmdale that then proceeds to an exits from the ocean floor and/or the Santa Monica Mountains. The Palmdale relay station is located here (copy the following string into your Google Earth: 34 54’58.78″ N 118 30’20.73″ W). This location has a 30 story underground facility that links up with the tunnel system maintained by black project U.S. government contractors and alien/non-human entities (some of whom have been here on Earth longer than we have). Once the craft exits, the contrail appears to be a missile, but it is in fact, a wormhole warping space and time. There have been other sighting similar to this off of L.A. — Go to you tube and look up User: TheTruthPatriot and the video named “UFO leaving a Wormhole” and you will see a clear shot of a craft exiting a similar wormhole. I kid you not!

    1. Coloradogary says:

      Very Cool Video. It does look a lot like this one except this one is sea to air, rather than air to air.

  49. felix vta says:

    remember the twa flight years ago that crash heading to paris .some people said they seen a missle hit the plane .who ever was fllying in that area that day buy yourself a lottory ticket.

  50. Lorelli says:

    ..,maybe it is a sign announcing that Maitreya will be here, somewhere on earth, soon, for helping the governers of the world, for peace, love?

  51. Phill says:

    I would think it’s funny it it was a high tech model rocket, like they shot in the desert near VictorVille, Just to see who would make a story out of it

  52. PatrickB says:

    That is no missile test launch… there is a deep underground network of tunnels and entrances that run from Kansas to Dulce New Mexico to Cheyenne Mountain to Area 51 to Edwards Air Force Base and a relay station near Palmdale that then proceeds to exits from the ocean floor and/or the Santa Monica Mountains. The Palmdale relay station is located here (copy the following string into your Google Earth: 34 54’58.78″ N 118 30’20.73″ W). This location has a 30 story underground facility that links up with the tunnel system maintained by black project U.S. government contractors and alien/non-human entities (some of whom have been here on Earth longer than we have). Once the craft exits, the contrail appears to be a missile, but it is in fact, a wormhole warping space and time. There have been other sightings similar to this off of L.A. — Go to you tube and look up User: TheTruthPatriot and the video named “UFO leaving a Wormhole” and you will see a clear shot of a craft exiting a similar wormhole. I kid you not!

  53. CT says:

    I love how the photographer doesn’t see the red/green flashing of the airplanes running lights, at the tip of the contrail, which are seen at the very end of the video…. which clearly explains the phenomenon.

  54. Dave says:

    Perhaps a JuLong2 SLBM test from a PRC Type 094 BMS?

    Can you imagine?

  55. Robert Tofson says:

    To those who think this is the con-trail is from an inbound Jet need to get a grip. Objects incoming and outgoing can be deceiving to the eye however this con-trail is breaking up by cross directional winds just above the horizon and are clearly focused in a tight pattern while looking at the vapor trail closest to the object in flight. To suggest that this is an accidental launch by a “Boomer” would mean that two on board keys or codes would have to be activated at the same time with approval of the President. From time to time the Navy has tested sub-launched missiles begging with the Polaris Missiles in the mid 50’s off the coast of California….Long Beach to be exact. My sense is that there is more video than we have seen. If this was a planned launch, it is possible that the Pacific Missile Range Facility, (Barking Sands) on Kauai was part of the test as well as Vandenberg AFB anD ships at sea. If it wasn’t one of our ICBM;s the DOD is likely in a melt down. The likely hood of a foreign country launching a missile from a sub so close however is a bit of a stretch given our ability to monitor under sea activities. I have been on the SSBM Alabama and the missile’s are clustered in an area known as “Sherwood Forest”, and that is not classified information. I can only imagine the noise, and rumble as the missile left its climate controlled environment.
    So what was it? A sub launched ICBM headed WNW. This was an expensive operation, I wonder why?

  56. sunra says:

    It was the Aurora fitted with rocket booster otw to who knows.

  57. mike in Bama says:

    That really looks like a Vandenberg launch. 35 miles off the coast, are you kidding me? LAX can’t give us a track at that time an space? Somebodies got data somewhere to explain this thing. Being an ex-Navy Firecontrolman it sure looks like a missile launch to me. But I can’t believe we don’t have a track to prove one way or another. In God we trust! All other we track!

  58. Charles J. says:

    just swamp gas emissions reflecting in the sunset. no biggie…

  59. Fred says:

    Geez, don’t you people realize what month this is? It’s November people. That means its sweeps month. Networks will do just about anything to raise their ratings. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt created by CBS.
    Remember baloon boy last year?

  60. Qed says:

    It is consistent with an ordinary aircraft contrail. The plume appears to show evidence of perturbation from wingtip vortices. It’s altitude appears to be well below 60k AGL as evidenced by the lack of additional contrail illumination (near the source) that would occur at higher altitudes at that time of day (i.e., it would still be light at higher altitudes that would be indicative of an exoatmospheric rocket, such as a Raytheon EKV). The lack of a detectable sonic boom is also restrictive. A quick hand calculation suggests that if the craft is approximately 20 miles away and traversing an angle of 1 degree every two seconds (rough angular velocity estimate from the video), then it is flying at about 921 feet per second = approx. 628 miles per hour — which is consistent with an airliner. To see some other cool aircraft contrails, do a Google or Bing image search for “iridescent contrail.”

  61. John Jones says:

    Its a hoax, perpertrated by the news camera man who has probably seen this “effect” many times and decided to create a stir. It don’t take much to fool you Californians to think some kind of conspiracy is happening in the American military. Jokes on Ya’ll. (Va Patriot)

  62. Bill says:

    Well, we already know that there are at least two US ships off the coast of CA based on news and other reports.

    So, for an organized enterprise to launch a rocket, they’d want as many “eyes” on the event as possible. I’m certain that satellite observation of the event, one that must have cost $millions$, would be a required part of the test.

    If someone has a satellite plotting program (Mac-based Freefall, for instance), please launch it (pun intended; my license currently does not work), plot and identify the names of which satellites (at least known to the general public) were overhead during the timeframe of the launch.

    If there were satellites overhead (Calalina), tell us their names (very easy with above program), and we can speculate further as to who would have control over those satellites, and therefore, who may have fired this particular rocket.

    Just a thought….

    1. Bill says:

      A site predicts which satellites will be visible from a specific location. I entered the following to check the satellites visible from Long Beach. These are currently in orbit around the earth and pass over Long Beach:

      ISS | X-37B | Genesis-1 / 2 | Envisat | HST

      I can see the X-37B satellite being involved with a secret mission. It is a mini unmanned “space-plane,” available for deployment at any time with a cargo bay similar to the space shuttle, which is being scuttled. I can see the military testing options to replace the Space Shuttle with.

      I worked on the X-40A’s (the X-37’s prototype) flight control operating and telemetry systems and heled perform 7 drop tests from a Chinook helicopter at EAFB. This is the kind of mission I expected from our efforts – not the “Crew Recovery Vehicle” the TOLD us we were working towards.

      The site for predicting which satellites is


      and the search string that yielded the above was:



      1. Bill says:

        It just dawned on me (no pun intended), I was kicking back with my wife and the chickens shortly after sunset in our backyard (wondering if it would get too cold for the chickens and should we move them into the garage for the night… alas, I digress…), either on Saturday or Sunday, and it was very clear – the stars were very visible for being in Garden Grove. Anyway, my wife and I observed a satellite traveling very high up and at a good velocity from west to east directly overhead in Garden Grove, CA near the “Orange Crush” i.e. 22/57/5 freeway interchange. It was shortly after sunset and was dark – I think it may have been Sunday. Anyway, will check if my wife recall when we hook up later.

      2. Bill says:

        I mean, think about it… The space shuttle was scheduled to launch, recently, and the mission had to be aborted, as I recall. Was this a secret space shuttle mission? I don’t recall. (FYI. Secret missions have parameters like launch time, azmith, lat, long, etc. which are classified secret. In another lifetime, I worked on the initialization load database for all space shuttle missions with Rockwell International, but I digress….)

        Anyway, if there was some cargo on that, Discovery, I think, that was time critical to get into orbit for the military, I can see them doing an emergency launch without much public publicity.


  63. Roger R. Hill says:

    This appears to me to not be a contrail.

    1. Military lie – which cause more attention – does not seem likely
    2. someone else s military?
    3. private rocket launch?

  64. C says:

    I heard something around 1:30 in the morning, an airplane flying low over Orange County, which is unusual since John Wayne’s curfew is 10:00 P.M….

  65. John says:

    Saturday night, around 2100 hrs, as we were sitting out on the back porch, my wife and I noticed coming in from the NW, a very bright orange colored light moving at an extremely high altitude. As we watched, it began to emit a glowing orange colored trail, resembling that of a comet, not clearly defined, rather nebulous, but highly visible….like that of something entering the atmosphere,(we’ve all seen the animations). It flared for about 30 seconds, then began to die down a little. It then made a sweeping turn (90 degrees) and headed back out to sea to the SW. It’s trajectory would have taken it over the San Nicolas Naval facility, an island about 50 miles offshore (Google Earth) on which there is a huge runway. This runway is 2 miles long. Anyway, as it turned out to sea, it again flared up briefly, then disappeared. We did not see the contrail you all saw, but we did observe this……did anyone else?

  66. Richard in Castaic says:

    I’m a disabled combat veteran myself, and as long as Chas is an American Citizen, he has freedom of speech and does not require “standing”. As a former member of the Armed Forces I can say with authority that most servicemen of total morons. Let’s not try to lord our military service over civilians.

  67. Green Jeans says:

    If it was a scheduled plane, wouldn’t there be a computer record of that flight
    on the control tower data who covers that area? We have the time, we have
    the precise area, we have witnesses who saw it. If it was just a plane,
    why doesn’t the pilot or airline come forward and just let us know it was
    them, then we can all have a good nights sleep.

  68. Johnathan Bewindle says:

    I was 15 miles off the coast when this occurred. The plume started from sea level (within a thousand feet) and climbed on an angle of about 60 degrees. I can assure you that this was no airplane. there of course was sunlight reflecting off the plume, however we also saw a bright exhaust port (one) that was clearly no reflection. The object pitched away as controlled rockets can and will do.

    I do not have an explanation, other than I can assure readers this was no airplane and anyone suggesting such should talk to those who witnessed it, and experts.

    I know contrails. I am a pilot and I have flown out of LAX and Burbank many, many times.

    I have lived in L.A. my whole life and my partner works for LAX in a position I will not disclose.

    People should take this seriously. I do not know what is more concerning; that people are arguing what experts are saying, or that someone has just displayed a first-strike capability and no SAMs or any other defenses were deployed to counter the object.

    If that object had traveled east, you would have had hundreds of thousands of witnesses – and god knows what would happen if it had landed -with a payload. If there is any doubt, then perhaps people should be asking why boats are now out there to salvage “a contrail”.

  69. james says:

    How about every one just look up a submarines missile and this picture on top and
    I promise u guys well stop arguing
    Trust me I’m not gonna argue and say what it might or might not be just lookup
    Submarines missile and compare Ur self

  70. Florida says:

    Just a thought……does the Carnival Ship have any correlation to this?

  71. C says:

    Contrails don’t happen this low…right?

  72. Bahman says:

    I saw the same thing about 2-3 years ago. I live in Tustin Ranch area in Orange County. One afternoon around 4:30 driving home from work I notice this huge trace of Smoke Plumes. It was like nothing I have ever seen before. It looks as the Space Shuttle is launch. It had so much force and the plumes behind it and was going directly up with very fast speed. It looked as it was launched from Balboa Island area. I tried to rush home to get my Camcorder and film this spectacular and scary Rocket or whatever it was but I got home too late.
    All I can say is this was no ordinary plane or lights playing tricks !! or all these funny explanation we are hearing .

  73. Steve C. says:

    My wife witnessed it as a bright orange light in the sky. She was driving north towards our home in Lake Forest from Mission Viejo. She also told me that she saw a number of helicopters flying in the area of the glow for quite a while after.

  74. Steve C. says:

    As a vet myself (10yrs USN), I’m agreeing with Joe in this case.

  75. Charlie says:

    Hey KCBS —- could you at least tell us the TIME of the video and LOCATION of the helo when it took the video.

    That would let me see if a contrail from The UA HNL to PHX or the AlaskaAir Cabo to SFO flight or Alaska an flight to PDX that wen through that area near sunset while climbing from 34,000 to 38,000′.

    Come. You have the video. You should know where you helo was. Give the basic info needed to validate some possibilites.

  76. Qed says:

    I’m a local pilot. That could be a guy I know that flies Russian fighter jets (e.g., Mig-21, L-39, etc) out of Torrance. I’ve seen him pull crazy vertical maneuvers. He is known to frequent the class G airspace on the backside of Catalina Island. He flies VFR (visual flight rules) with his transponder off–inhibiting tracking by the ATC. This would explain the apparent slow speed and low elevation of the aircraft (–it is inconsistent with a rocket or missile). It is flying relatively low or it would be further illuminated by the sun at that time of day. It is relatively slowt, or it would exhibit a higher angular velocity given the estimated elevation, distance, and trajectory.

  77. Bong Smo Ker says:

    NORTH KOREA just released a statement indicating that they tested a long-range missile launched from a sub 50 miles off the coast of Southern California. The missile was not armed with a warhead, however they advised that further testing will be conducted in the near future.

  78. JJ USAF / USN Ret. says:

    It’s Simple, It’s the Aroura Super Spy Plane do a vertical take off mayber rocket assisted ! But my moneys on the Aroura

  79. Larry says:

    After reading what the FAA said again- there were no “unidentified targets in that area” in the radar replays; maybe USA808 was indentified in the area. So if the cameraman was pointing at the flight path of USA808, maybe that was it. Maybe the camera couldn’t zoom in far enough to see the plane.

  80. Gary Cunningham says:

    Obviously this was a USO (Unidentified Submerged Object) in the process of becoming a UFO (Unidentified Flying Object). The same thing happened last week, which is why the News Team was out looking in the general area. I wish they would hurry up and land on the White House Lawn. I am tired of denials.

  81. blah says:

    You could update your post. Obviously a plane flight. http://uncinus.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/4/

  82. yattzy says:

    you know what makes me think it is not a HORIZONTAL plume of contrail?
    Just see how the shadow falls on it. While the horizontal clods are brightly lit from setting sun, this contrail should look similar to the cloud, right? But it doesn’t. Now take the cloud an put it VERTICAL, and it will look like we see here. Besides, most contrails (unless they are crazy chemtrails) are similar in width, so they actually look more narrow closer to horizon!
    I googled for images of “contrail sunset” and compared to this missile contrail carefully.This is vertical one !

  83. ghengis says:


    Chinese field testing its new 094 sub, JL2 sub-launch missile, and its new anti-carrier ballistic missile that can sink a carrier with one strike. Test cases were done near the shore of US’s two largest cities–LA and NYork. Simple explanation that Pentagon will kill to hide to avoid escalation because it was US fault: War cames off China coast, and pumping useless U$650 into the economy, stealing from the U$1 trillion debt it owes China.

  84. Island Eyes says:

    Debris hit the atmosphere at 9:40pm over Avalon (Catalina Island). There are three other people from the mainland on this site describing what I saw – something hitting the atmosphere and exploding- similar to a small silent firework in the range of a shooting star. I’m hoping there aren’t any harmful gases or vapors falling from the skies as well- Get your gas masks on California, not to protect from the stupidity of other governments, but from our own.

  85. Glenn says:

    I can prove it scientifically with empirical evidence that it was a missile.

    I made many 3D stereograms from the KCAL helicopter News footage.

    They show the missile clearly going away from the coast at a very steep angle to the W – WNW. Stereo viewing doesn’t lie, the parallax only enhances what is real. Example: stereograms of the Grand Canyon only will make the Grand Canyon appear deeper, they won’t change the Grand Canyon into a Mountain. The missile exhaust/vapor plume is clearly going away from the coast and not toward the coast.

    Use these for easy viewing:

    I have triangulated and found the launch in the Pacific Ocean off the CA/LA coast about 170 + miles and the exhaust/vapor plume goes W – WNW for a very long considerable distance using the GOES 11 satellite images from 11-9-10 at 1:30Z = 11-8-10 at 5:30PST.

    Using simple trig I have calculated the missile went over 156,000+ feet in altitude, above anything that a commercial or military jet can do.

    With the original KCAL HD video footage my results would be even better, but they are good and easily show it as it is. I wouldn’t mind doing it with the original KCAL HD News footage shot by Gil Leyvas. Would be really good to do.

    Get in touch with me KCAL if you want to know more.



    HS Physics and Earth Science Teacher

    1. yattzy says:

      congrats! That is what I saw with my eyes, when imagined this footage in 3D

  86. flam bay says:

    If you give me two shots of the “contrail” from two different points several miles apart I think I can tell you the distance and height of the contrail.

    If you give me the same but in video I can tell you the heading and speed as well.

    email: flambay@rock.com

  87. Alex says:

    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. <== The statement from the Pentagon is very suspicious after all they are the Department of Defense for the most powerful country on this planet.

  88. K. Mann says:

    having lived near the space center in florida for 25 years i can tell you with 100% certainty that the launch off of california’s coast was from a large rocket.

    consider if perhaps china had gotten close to our shore undetected and launched a rocket to show us how they could launch a rocket against another country and make it appear that the usa was attacking them. we the people would demand that we retaliate against china for doing such a thing and our government in their wisdom might not want to do that so they tell us we’re all crazy and seeing things.

  89. U.S. Government Lies says:

    Of course area 51 exists, but there’s a reason why there’s so much debate on whether or not if it’s there is because the government doesn’t want the public to know more or less the people will be nosey about it.

    In addition, John Pike is a complete moron. It’s obvious that only the military staff will all deny claims and make excuses. When John Pike stated “It’s an airplane that is heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun”. That makes absolutely no sense. If the object were a plane and moving toward the camera, the plane would be visible by it’s shape and it wouldn’t have vanished in the other direction. Furthermore, The sun can not illuminate a plume or exhaust and there’s no plane that can create exhaust like that.

    In fact, there’s no airplane or jetliner that can launch upwards then suddenly take flight in another angle. Also, there’s no airplane or jetliner that has a small frame that ignites with sparkes and creates that much exhaust. Only missles ignite in sparks, and create that much exhaust.

    In my conclusion, Yes the government denies all claims to help keep their secrets from the public, yes that is a missle, no that was not a plane or jetliner. All statements made to make excuses of a military missle launch are completely stupid. “It’s an airplane that is heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun,” that has got to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

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