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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mysterious Missile Launch Seen from SoCal Coast UPDATED

The military isn't talking yet, and the speculation is rampant. UPDATED BELOW.

"A mysterious missile launch off the southern California coast was caught by CBS affiliate KCBS's cameras Monday night, and officials are staying tight-lipped over the nature of the projectile.

"CBS station KFMB put in calls to the Navy and Air Force Monday night about the striking launch off the coast of Los Angeles, which was easily visible from the coast, but the military has said nothing about the launch.

"KFMB showed video of the apparent missile to former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert Ellsworth, who is also a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, to get his thoughts.


"A Navy spokesperson told KFMB it wasn't their missile. He said there was no Navy activity reported in the area Monday evening.

"On Friday night, Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, launched a Delta II rocket, carrying an Italian satellite into orbit, but a sergeant at the base told KFMB there had been no launches since then.

"Ellsworth urged American to wait for definitive answers to come from the military.

"When asked, however, what he thought it might be, the former ambassador said it could possibly have been a missile test timed as a demonstration of American military might as President Obama tours Asia.

"'It could be a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine … to demonstrate, mainly to Asia, that we can do that,' speculated Ellsworth.


"Officially, at least, the projectile remains a mystery missile."

Hmm. Demonstrating to Asia that the US can launch ballistic missiles from submarines. But it was off the coast of California. Isn't it more likely that the US was demonstrating to Jerry Brown that the US can launch ballistic missiles? Maybe a subtle hint from Geithner and Bernake to get that state's budget deficit under control...

Was this really a demo for Asia? Then exactly for who? China? North Korea? India? Indonesia? Japan? Australia? Whoever this demonstration actually was for, then it was clumsy. Unless it was for us.

UPDATE: It is quite possible that the "missile" was a contrail for a jet aircraft. From some angles jet contrails can look like missile trails as this site can attest (with some good pics too). Looking at the news video you can also notice the very bright flame from the rocket launch at Vandenberg, and you can see the lack of it in the "mystery missile's" contrail. My bet is this "missile" was actually a jet of some sort.

I'll post more when I find out more.

UPDATE 2: The US Defense Department is now talking.

From the New York Post article:

"The mysterious vapor trail spotted off the southern coast of California was 'more likely caused by an airplane than anything else,' a senior military official told Fox News Channel Tuesday, though another official said authorities continue to investigate to rule out a possible missile launch.

"The contrail caught on video by a news helicopter 'was more likely caused by an airplane than anything else, because the other possibilities of rockets or missile are turning up negative,' the senior military official said.

"But a US Defense Department official told Fox News that a missile has not been ruled out, saying US Strategic Command (Stratcom) and US Northern Command (Northcom) have both been asked to 'count noses,' or ensure all missiles are in their arsenals.

"The official did not rule out the possibility that a missile could have been launched as part of a covert operation.


"ContrailScience.com, a website that debunks conspiracy theories linked to contrails, suggested the sighting was an optical illusion, AFP reported.

"It said a contrail streaming horizontally from the exhaust of an approaching aircraft can look like a vertical missile shot if the end of the plume is hidden by the curvature of the earth."

UPDATE 3: The Pentagon is saying the "missile" was the contrail of a plane.

From Fox News:

"The Department of Defense said Wednesday that it was satisfied the event was likely caused by an airplane.

"'With all the information that we have gathered over the last day and a half about this condensation trail off the coast of southern California on Monday night, both within the DoD and other U.S. government agencies, we have no information to suggest this was anything other than a contrail caused by an aircraft,' said Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

"'As stated yesterday, NORAD and USNORTHCOM determined that there was no threat to the U.S. homeland.'

"Lapan said that in the mind of the DoD this case is closed.

"Lapan said the government looked at lots of data sources other than the CBS news tape. He would not get into the details of what those data sources were, but said that evidence helped determine this was most likely an aircraft. But most importantly, it was the response from all other government agencies saying they did not launch anything that convinced them this was likely an aircraft.

"'The Department of Defense, after gathering info over the last 36 hours from within the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies, is satisfied the contrail was likely caused by an aircraft.'"

And in the same article a blogger claims he knows what flight it was. "A blogger reckons he may have solved the mystery over the vapor trail spotted off the southern coast of California on Monday.

"On his blog 'Time to Think,' Liem Bahneman on Wednesday pinpointed America West Flight 808 as the likely cause -- backing up an explanation offered by a senior military official to Fox News Channel that the contrail caught on video by a news helicopter 'was more likely caused by an airplane than anything else.'

"Bahneman wonders if he is the first to call it: 'I did a lot of extrapolation of what flights could be at the right position (off the coast) at the right altitude (for contrail formation) and came down to two possibilities: UPS Flight 902 (UPS902) or America West Flight 808 (AWE808).'

"He concluded: 'As I was researching tonight (24 hours later), I realized that today's (Tuesday's) AWE808 current position (at around 4:50 p.m.) was almost the same as it was the day of the incident. I quickly pulled up a Newport Beach webcam and found that (apparently) AWE808 was making an identical contrail, 24 hours later!'

"Bahneman cited another blog, ContrailScience.com, which lists a wealth of other details about jet airplane contrails. The blogger behind that site agreed with Bahneman, telling FoxNews.com that 'the plane is flying directly TOWARD you, so it starts below the horizon. The contrail at the horizon is far away, maybe 50-100 miles behind the plane, and has been spread out by the wind, creating the illusion that it's closer.'"


  1. If it was a jet, don't we have records of every single plane that takes off & lands in this country? If it was a jet, they should have been able to determine that very quickly!
    I wrote about this yesterday at my blog, in prose, please feel free to have a look:


    Thank you for the updates!

  2. Yes, commercial jets do have transponders and someone is looking at the planes on radar pretty much all of the time, but the trouble is volume. There are LOTS of planes in the air at once, especially over So Cal. Finding the exact person who was looking at the exact plane at that exact time, and then knowing that this was the plane that was filmed by the camera crew who have a really imprecise idea of where the plane was... well it can be more than a little confusing.

    Also, this presumes that it was a commercial/private flight. If it was a US military jet, it could be automatically denied for a variety of reasons.

  3. Whatever it was, our government handled it poorly, in my humble opinion. But that is how they seem to handle everything lately, poorly.

    I need to learn more about literary terminology. I'm not quite as smart as I like to think I am. :)
    Thanks for reading my poem.