Mystery ‘missile vapour trail’ seen over LA
US military says it does not know what caused the contrail spotted by TV cameraman
Mystery surrounds the apparent sighting of a missile in the skies above the Pacific Ocean off California on Monday evening. Footage of the vapour trail was caught by CBS cameraman Gil Leyvas in a news helicopter over Los Angeles.
No one seems to be sure exactly what was in the sky, with some experts insisting it was a ballistic missile and others adamant that it was simply an aeroplane trail lit up by the sunset.
The Pentagon apparently made it a "top priority" to find out what had caused the 'contrail' and quickly established that the US military was not responsible for any launches on Monday, deliberate or otherwise.
But that prompted a flurry of speculation about what, or who, could be responsible for the vapour trail. Other suspects including Nasa and Boeing, who sometimes conduct rocket and engine tests off the California coast, also denied any involvement. The Japanese Navy, which tested an American Standard interceptor missile from a destroyer near Hawaii last week, said that it was not responsible.
Doug Richardson, the editor of Jane's Missiles and Rockets, when shown the video by the Times concluded: "It's a solid propellant missile, you can tell from the efflux [smoke]. But they're not showing enough of the tape to show whether it's staging [jettisoning sections]."
That left many Americans fearing that terrorists, foreign powers or even aliens were behind the phenomenon. But there is a groundswell of opinion that the truth is rather more mundane and the vapour trail came from an airplane.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported that it did not receive any reports of missiles from other pilots in the area or track any unusually fast objects on its radar systems. Meanwhile the Air Defence Command concluded that the object was not travelling fast enough and did not have a big enough exhaust plume to be a military missile.
Experts have also pointed out that the trail appears to change direction, something missiles rarely do. ·
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