Screenshot of news footage of what has been dubbed the 'mystery missle.'

‘Mystery-Missile’ – Likely an Airplane

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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What took place in the skies above California’s coastline Monday, Nov. 8? That is still being hotly debated by experts and laymen alike. What appears to be a missile firing some 35 miles off the coast of California, near the Island of Catalina appears in a KCBS news chopper footage. The Pentagon has stated that it does not know what is displayed in the images. But instead of mystery, intrigue and government coverup, there is likely a more ordinary explanation: it was an optical illusion.

The Boeing Co. every so often will deploy aircraft from San Nicolas Island. These flights are part of an anti-missile laser testing program. However, the company has announced that it had nothing in the air on Monday. According to the Orange County Register, a very similar contrail was noted off of California Coast just one year earlier.

One possible explanation for the mysterious ‘plume’ is that it was the test firing of a new commercial space rocket – there has not been any confirmation of this.

While experts at Globalsecurity.org say that more than likely what is being viewed in the video is an aircraft and its contrail approaching the camera. That matches up with what scientists that have come forward have stated – that this is nothing more than the contrail made from a jetliner. In short, this whole sensation may have been caused over an optical illusion. One caused by a large aircraft, the sunset and the odd angle that the helicopter that collected the footage was shooting from.

Moreover, local radar did not pick up any fast-moving objects during the time of the ‘launch.’ In fact, in most of the footage the ‘missile’ or ‘rocket’ appears to barely move. For those that regularly follow launches only a single snippet of the video appears to show the fiery exhaust of a rocket – but this could also be the glint of sunlight off of metal.

According to the American Aerospace Defense Command, “there is no indication of any threat to our nation.” Neither NASA nor the U.S. Missile Defense Agency were quite as forthcoming, as these organizations did not immediately release information regarding the incident. Both the U.S. Air Force and Navy have stated that they were not responsible for whatever caused the vapor trail.

This is not the first time plane contrails have been mistaken for rocket launches. See the website Contrail Science for more information and to see similar previous events.


21 Responses

  1. Maxwell says:

    They keep records of air traffic too. So getting the flight number should be a piece of cake, unless it also happened to not show up on radar…

    Its probably just a weather balloon leaking swampgass.

  2. jay2487 says:

    mystery solved:
    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. 2. VESSELS MAY BE REQUESTED TO ALTER COURSE WITHIN THE ABOVE AREA DUE TO FIRING OPERATIONS AND ARE REQUESTED TO CONTACT PLEAD CONTROL ON 5081.5 MHZ (5080 KHZ) OR 3238.5 KHZ (3237 KHZ) SECONDARY OR 156.8 MHZ (CH 16) OR 127.55 MHZ BEFORE ENTERING THE ABOVE BOUNDARIES AND MAINTAIN CONTINUOUS GUARD WHILE WITHIN THE RANGE. 3. VESSELS INBOUND AND OUTBOUND FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PORTS WILL CREATE THE LEAST INTERFERENCE TO FIRING OPERATIONS DURING THE SPECIFIC PERIODS, AS WELL AS ENHANCE THE VESSEL’S SAFETY WHEN PASSING THROUGH THE VICINITY OF THE SEA RANGE IF THEY WILL TRANSIT VIA THE SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL AND WITHIN NINE MILES OFFSHORE VICINITY OF POINT MUGU OR CROSS THE AREA SOUTHWEST OF SAN NICOLAS ISLAND BETWEEN SUNSET AND SUNRISE. 4. CANCEL NAVAREA XII 427/10.

  3. amanda ashley says:

    This is getting a bit ridiculous. Watching the video several things are evident. Number one: the initial exhaust plume rises vertically then shifts rightward, as would a submarine-launched missile being fired and then course correcting. Number two: the rate of ascent is much too vertical, much too rapid, much too fast, and much too large for any single engine aircraft of any known type. Number three: at the highest visible point of the trajectory one may see the rocket exhaust pulsating in a manner much too consistent and repetitive to be reflective sunlight. Very much like a solid fuel rocket. When is someone going to ‘fess up to this most obvious demonstration of a SLBM launch? I’m getting a bit tired of this pretend ignorance by “experts”, obfuscation by the military, and gullibility of the media.

  4. beukef says:

    A commercial jet contrail?!? That’s the (or “a”) story being offered as an explanation?

    Oh, please.

  5. hale-bopp says:

    The whole point is that this is likely an optical illusion. The object is not really going that vertical.

    If it is a regularly scheduled flight, you should be able to see the plane the next night as well. Turns out someone decided to investigate this and there was a similar contrail the next day at the same time. Now the clouds are slightly different (sorry, they couldn’t get the weather reproduced exactly the next day) bu the plume sure looks similar.

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

  6. peterfagan says:

    The amount of times I thought a plane in the distance was a rocket going to space as a kid outnumbers the amount of times wetting the bed. They look as if they are going straight up on the horizon.

  7. Aqua says:

    A private citizen, a farmer entrepreneur launches his version of the next gen.? That’s been done on film…

    Space X’s President, Elan Musk gets fed up with the red tape and bureaucracy in dealing with Washington and decides to take the initiative by launching from the LoCal desert. I dare you!

    Super secret, hush-hush, ain’t telling, military denial?

    Get over it… it was a jet contrail..

  8. Aqua says:

    WHICH reminds and begs the question… WHEN are we going to do something about upper atmospheric pollution from jet engines?

  9. Dark Gnat says:

    Hard to say. Rocket plumes tend to become jagged, as different air layers have different wind patterns, shifing the plume in different directions. Plus, the object appears to be travelling very slowly for a rocket.

    Surely, someone else got some footage of this…right?

    What scares me the most is not that this might be a rocket, but the fact that NORAD doesn’t know what it is. Our hard earned tax dollars for missle defence have apparently been wasted.

    I can buy the optical illusion, as I have seen contrails do all sorts of things (including the “mysterious donut on a rope” left by a 747), but we need confirmation.

  10. Manu says:

    The contrail is 100% obvious from just the sunlight on this single image. No vertical object would be lit like this.

    Also, what peterfagan says.

  11. HelloBozos says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt2EDZaWRoI

    Here’s Both kind of Trails Live!!!,but from 60 miles away,(Orlando to KFC)….That was No Airplane! Only way that was an Airplane is if it was “On Fire”

  12. capper says:

    CNN just “confirmed” that it was an aircraft contrail.

  13. Dark Gnat says:

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is the result of a slow news day.

  14. Aqua says:

    I just heard on the news that contrail was formed by a guy checking his propane tank with a match….

  15. futumpsh says:

    It’s a jet contrail. At the end of the video you see a flash of green – that would be the aircraft nav light.

    I’ll go you one further – I think it was a big hoax put on by the guy who filmed it. I’ll be he knows darn well it’s just a contrail.

    Or not.

  16. Qev says:

    (nicked from SpaceWeather.com!)

  17. billy_stanley says:

    “there is likely a more ordinary explanation: it was an optical illusion. (…)”

    I think that is an insult to my intelligence. I don’t think the trail can be connected with any airplane that I know of, and to say that it is an optical illusion is ridiculous.

  18. Dark Gnat says:

    Visit the link at the bottom of the article. It gives a very detailed explanation of why it was a contrail.

    Here it is for convenience: http://uncinus.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/4/

    This is yet another case of the media hyping up some mundane event and causing panic. I’m getting really tired of the meia being so sensationalistic and irresponsible.

  19. Ted Judah says:

    Excellent post Dark Gnat. I was initially wowed by the prospect of a mysterious missile launch as it was reported on the news but now I have to agree it was a contrail.

  20. ILOVETHESTAR says:

    Some of you may have seen this picture
    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap031001.html
    At first, they thought it may’ve been a bolide, however, a later picture from a different site a few miles away proved it was an unusual airline contrail.
    (Sorry, I have the 2nd picture somewhere, but I’ve tens of thousands astro pics
    and can’t find the 2nd pic)
    Nevertheless, this is an interesting picture that amazed many

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