A mysterious contrail

I’m late to this, but I just read this intriguing story in the New York Times about the startling video, shot from a news helicopter, of what looks very much like a missile launch near Los Angeles last Monday. Or maybe a chemtrail? Former Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Ellsworth was unambiguous and emphatic when interviewed on local TV–he called it a “large missile,” possibly an ICBM. Could this have been an accidental or unauthorized launch–potentially the beginning of a Dr. Strangelove incident? Could someone have been firing at us? Like I said, I came late to the story and by now, the consensus seems to be that it was an optical illusion. If nothing else, it gives you a sense of how a Roswell-style thought contagion can start–something odd happens, the official response is wobbly enough to leave room for wild speculation, the story begins to spread, then reports of similar incidents pour in that seem to confirm it (the first in this case in New York City, on Friday, with another mysterious contrail being featured on the local news).

This story on the CBS/Los Angeles website includes a bunch of screenshots and some video; the 130 reader comments at the bottom run the gamut from hyper-conspiratorial to hard core skeptical. Myself, I haven’t a clue. I know that the military will lie when it deems it expedient to do so (the whole mythology around Area 51 grew up because its policy was to deny the very existence of the place, never mind the strange aircraft that people kept seeing); on the other hand, John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org seems awfully sure of himself and his take on the incident makes an intuitive kind of sense. “I think it temporarily confused the Pentagon,” he said. “They had to triple-check to see if they actually did have something going on out there, to see if there was some black program they should not talk about.”

As for that copycat story about the plume over New York City (click here), I see contrails that look pretty much exactly like that one out my window every day.

PS Click here for UFO debunker Robert Sheaffer’s take; click here for a story about a photograph of a fireball that was taken some years ago that NASA wrongly identified as a “sofa-sized” meteor entering the atmosphere. Upon closer examination (and comparisons with another photograph, taken from a different angle) it turned out to be the Concord’s contrail.

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