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November 9, 2010 / Mick

Jet contrails from some angles look like missile trails


UPDATEAfter geting a new photo of the trail, Liam Bahneman told me he was now siding with it being his second choice, UPS902.  Having reviewed the evidence, I fully agree that UPS902 is a much better fit than AWE808, especially when viewed against the composite photo.

UPS902 Turns out to be a much better fit

Note to the media – since this was almost certainly Flight UPS902 from Hawaii to Ontario, why not have a camera crew somewhere in the vicinity (does not need to be exact, or a chopper), next time the flight is scheduled to go by, and if the weather is right you’ll see the same trail again. (or check the web cam)

Note to everyone else – If you have photos of the Nov 8 contrail from any angle, please email them to

[This post was originally from Jan 19th, 2010.  I’ve updated it with information about the “Mystery Missile” contrail of Nov 8, 2010, at the bottom of this post.  Clearly it’s the same thing]

An interesting contrail cropped up off the coast of San Clemente, Orange County, California on December 31st 2009. The curious shape led some people to think it’s a missile launch, which it does kind of look like (all taken from San Clemente)

"Missile-like" contrail. Note this is the Dec 31st contrail, not the Nov 8th CBS one. That's at the bottom of the post.

This kind of contrail confusion is nothing new. This article appeared in The San Mateo Times, Jan 12, 1950:

Here’s some more shots of the same contrail. Click these for larger images:

The idea that it’s a missile launch comes from three misconceptions. Firstly that the trail is vertical – it’s not, it’s a horizontal trail, at around 32,000 feet (about six miles). It’s the same as this:

This contrail is no more vertical than the road is, and nor are the power lines at 45 degrees. Everything is horizontal – it’s the just the angle you are viewing it from. All of these show horizontal contrails.

Secondly there’s the misconception of direction, that it’s flying away from the viewer, when it’s actually flying towards the viewer. This is because the “base” of the contrail seems wider than the tip. Perspective tells the brain that this mean the base is closer. But actually you can see the base has been greatly spread by the wind. Since it’s so far away the effects of perspective are greatly diminished, meaning the actual width of the contrail is what is creating the illusion. Imagine if a plane with a 100 mile long spreading contrail were coming towards you; what would it look like? It would look exactly like this.

Thirdly there’s the idea that it goes all the way down to the ground. Now that might be true if the Earth was flat, but the Earth is round, and things go beneath the horizon eventually, no matter how high they are. A plane 200 miles away but five miles up is always below the horizon. If the horizon is raised (as it is here, with Catalina Island), then the distance is less. Here’s some math:

This diagram is not to scale, but the math is the same regardless. The solid curved line is the surface of the earth. The dot at the top is San Clemente. The little triangle is Catalina. “d” is the distance to Catalina (d=35 miles). “c” the amount of Catalina that is visible above the horizon (c=0.05 miles, really a bit more, but let’s be conservative). “a” is the altitude of the plane, (a = 6 miles). “r” is the radius of the earth (r=3963 miles).

The green wavy line is the contrail. Notice it’s at a fixed height above the surface of the earth, and is going directly towards the OC.

The point labeled (0,0) is the center of the earth. (0,0) means X=0, Y=0, where X is horizontal and Y is vertical. What we want to know is how far away the plane is, the value x. We do this with cartesian geometry, noting that the lowest visible point of the trail is at the intersection of the dotted line, which is a circle of radius (r+a), hence the equation x^2 + y^2 = (r+a)^2 and the line labeled “sight line”, which is has the equation y=r+x*c/d. Combining these equations to solve for x yields a quadratic equation, which we can solve with Wolfram Alpha:

intersection of (y=r+x*c/d) and (x^2+y^2 = (r+a)^2)

and with the real numbers:

intersection of (y=r+x*c/d) and (x^2+y^2 = (r+a)^2) where a=6 and d=35 and c=0.05 and r=3963

Which gives x = 212, meaning that the bottom of the contrail is around 200 miles away. So if the front of the contrail (the actual aircraft) is somewhere above and behind catalina, then that means the contrail is over 100 miles long. At 500 mph, that means it could have formed in 12-15 minutes, which seems consistent with the descriptions in the discussion above. (feel free to play around with the numbers there to see the affect of various assumptions)

Looking at the satellite image for noon on that day (12/31/2009) and the next day (1/1/2010), we see contrails in approximately the same position, and around 100 miles long, showing it’s quite possible, given the right weather.

Really what makes this odd looking is the position of the people taking the photo. Obviously the same contrail would be visible all the way up the coast, however the only people who though it was really odd were those who were lined up with it, in OC. People in LA would see a dramatic looking contrail, but more obviously just a contrail, so less worthy of writing to the newspaper about. I actually saw it myself, but was in a car, and could only get a poor cell-phone snapshot:

A cell-phone photo I took of the New Year Eve contrail, from an angle that shows it's just a jet contrail

That was from somewhere around San Diamas, on the 210 freeway, so I’m looking South West, probably around 45 degree the the contrail, which you can only see a bit of behind the Home Depot sign. It looked quite impressive at the time.  But  there are other photos of it from various other angles which show it’s contrail-ness more clearly, here’s one taken from Santa Monica (click photo for original):

The actual New Years Eve contrail, viewed from Santa Monica. This is what the CBS "missile" contrail would have looked like to most people in LA, which is why nobody reported it.

You can see from this angle (and taken a bit earlier) it looks far less interesting, as it’s very apparent it’s just a contrail.

Scott Methvin sent in these two images which shows the contrail in all it’s missile-like glory, but from a better angle.

The Dec 31st contrail, from Laguna Beach

Same contrail slightly later.

Here’s another angle of the New Year’s Eve contrail, this view is from Corona del Mar, about 20 miles Northeast of San Clemente:

Another angle on the New Years Eve contrail. See, it's all about perspective.

Here’s a similar photo (of a different contrail, obviously) on the same day at the other side of the country:

Not a missile launch.

Here’s some more contrails at sunset (From a very nice set of contrail photos), note how they look exactly the same as sections of the New Year contrail:

Obviously not missiles. But look at sections of the trails.

Not a missile launch, in Michigan.

[Update Nov 9 2010]

Now here’s the one everyone is actually talking about.  From Monday Nov 8th 2010, this time it video taken a local CBS news crew in a helicopter, so they were able to zoom in.

Jet contrail, misidentified as a missile launch, again.

Note it’s pretty much in the same location. Note also it’s not exactly moving at missile speed.  Note also it’s practically identical to the photos of plane contrails, above.

Same as last time, maybe even the same scheduled flight.

And once again millions of people failed to notice, because from any other angle it looked like what it was, a contrail, from a plane.  Must be a slow news day, as this went all the way up to Jim Miklaszewski asking people at the pentagon about it.

There are occasional flashes of light, which I think are reflections of the sun off a flat surface on the plane.  There’s also portions of the video where a bit of the trail behind the plane seems to glow.  I think thats just the last rays of the setting sun lighting that portion of the trail. See Scott Methvin’s photos, above for how the trail can be oddly lit from minute to minute.

Here’s a better video. You can see after about 0:50 it’s out of the contrail-persisting region of air, and is just leaving a short contrail. It’s also now out of the sun. It looks exactly like the short contrails of a jet coming towards the camera with perspective foreshortening.  The camera crew lost it in the darkness shortly after that.

The most likely flight is US Aiways flight 808 from Hawaii to Phoenix.

US Airways flight 808, at around 5PM PST (Sunset)

I snapped the above web image at around 5:05PM today, about the same time as the video was taken yesterday.

Here’s the actual track from the 8th:

And here’s a photo I took (Nov 9th) two minutes earlier from Santa Monica.  I think it’s the same flight, just 24 hours later.  Note that the angle is exactly the same as the Dec 31st contrail that produced the original “missile” story.

Contrail from flight 808

Obviously the video would have to have been taken from way off to the right in this photo (I’m looking South West). The chopper would have been somewhere like Torrance.

[Update again]

The cameraman reports:

Cameraman Gil Leyvas shot video of a luminous point hurtling through the sky followed by a long vapor trail. He said he was aboard the television station’s helicopter shooting footage of the sunset over the ocean about 5:15 p.m when he noticed the spiral-shaped vapor trail and zoomed in to get a better look.

The onboard camera showed a plume twisting up from the horizon and narrowing as it climbed into the sky near Catalina Island, about 35 miles west of Los Angeles, he said.

“Whatever it was, it was spinning up into the sky kind of like a spiral,” and was easy to distinguish from condensation trails from jets, he said. “It was quite a sight to see. It was spectacular.”

I suspect what he saw (which can only be what is on the video, I’d like to see it in HD) is the twisting of the contrails, this can be quite dramatic, especially from such a head-on angle. See this video of a similar perspective, and note the swirling twists in the contrails directly behind the jet.

Here’s a grab from that video, showing the twist, and how it as accented by low sun.

Twisting contrails in low sun.

Liem Bahneman gives this excellent description of how flight AWE808 exactly matches the observations, including producing a near identical contrail the next day (which I also photographed, from Santa Monica, above)

This pretty much explains it.

And here’s some excellent points from a real rocket scientist, posting as “Michael”:

I’d like to add to all the evidence above that it was just a jet, because the plume is nothing like a rocket plume to the trained eye. I was a rocket safety inspector for 3 years, have seen countless launches and failures, and have a master’s degree in Astronautical Engineering. Here’s why it’s not a rocket:

It’s too slow (<— biggest reason).
There’s no engine flare.
There’s no expansion of the plume (as the chamber pressure exceeds the atmospheric pressure more and more during flight).
There’s no staging event.
There’s no sunset striations across the plume (which would look like this:
In the wide shot there’s two contrails (off each wing!) instead of one.
The plume at the plane is twirling in different directions (very un-rocket-like).
The plume at the plane is twirling too much — that only happens in the case of a motor burn-through, which is a failure mode, meaning it would be seconds from exploding if it were a rocket.
The wind-blown plume is all wrong, vertical plumes go through several different wind shear layers, which makes it look very different than what the video shows.

The apparent direction of the jet is a bit of an illusion, as the trail is greatly distorted by the winds at altitude, which can also vary greatly from place to place. At 37,000 feet the wind can easily be in the 50-100 mph range.

Richard Warren of Los Angeles shot four close-up photos of the trail from a fixed position in Lon Beach. I’ve combined them here into one photo, where you can see the trail move with the wind, and the actual path that the plane takes is much more obviously passing to the south of Long Beach, matching flight 808.

And the fact that it’s a plane is way more apparent once it stops making a contrail (which is due to it moving between two regions of air – it’s colder and/or more humid out to sea than inland)

Richard took a fifth shot at a wider angle that shows the greater context. The jet is still visible as a dark speck (it’s still got a very short contrail). There’s also a very impressive crepuscular “edge” shadow that’s probably cast by part of the contrail that is over the horizon.



  1. danke / Nov 12 2010 7:29 am

    All you nuts could better embarrass yourselves if you include words like “Roswell” and “Haliburton” in your opinions.

  2. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 7:35 am

    same jet, same altitude. different contrail.

  3. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 7:38 am

  4. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 7:47 am

    IIIcornIII, the type of contrail formed depends on the temperatur and the humidity of the air it is passing through. Look at these combined photos of the 808 contrail. See how later the jet is leaving a much shorter contrail, probably similar to the one in your video, but of course still viewed from an unusual angle.

  5. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 8:21 am

    I saw that photo on your post already. But I don’t see how it supports your theory. You are saying it is moving between 2 regions of air but you are also saying it is a passenger jet that is flying at a level altitude. Not sure how it can be both. And It looks like 4 rockets to me.

  6. Bobbo / Nov 12 2010 8:23 am

    Wow, I can’t believe you people are still going on about a missile. Lots of talking since I went to bed but as I read the comments no one has posted any facts. Only conjecture, theory and guess. So here’s my 2 cents. Someone commented that “I want to know why no one is interviewing possible witnesses”. I can tell you why, because there was nothing to witness. But if you need a witness, I’ll step forward. I arrived at lax from oakland at just after 4 pm on monday. Was in my car by 4:30 and then drove south on 405 to long beach in rush hour traffic looking into the rough direction of this event. About an hour drive. I saw nothing unusual. I saw no exhaust plume rise into the sky and leave the atmosphere (because I would have taken a picture of that kind of event in that location) which is backed up by the video which clearly shows the trail thinning and eventually stopping. All sunset launches from Vandenburgh always have a very spectacular “northern light” type effect to observers east of the launch as the exhaust left in the upper atmosphere reflects the light of the already setted sun. This did not occur in any form. There were no mysterious “flashes of light”. Also remember that the trail to observers on the ground would be maybe half the length (someone else can do the math above) of that viewed from the video because the helicopter was several thousand feet higher making it’s view much more eye catching. Also this is the land of the “15 minutes of fame” crowd. If something occurred, you don’t have to go look for them, they will come out of the woodwork. Especially since it was reported live on tv. If there was something to see every “attention seeking whore” would have run to photograph, videotape whatever to get their face in front of a camera. But there was nothing to photograph except for maybe a very small sector of people who were lined up directly with the trail like the helicopter. For the rest of us there was nothing to see but a very colorful but much shorter contrail then in the video coming inland and ending before reaching the coast line as the moist air over the ocean gives way to dryer air over the land. So, nothing to see here so move along.

  7. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 8:41 am

    lllcornlll, out over the ocean that day the air was more humid and/or cold than over the land. It’s very common.

    So as the plane approached the land, it moved from one air mass to and adjacent air mass. It’s why you see contrails start and stop sometimes.

  8. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 8:50 am

    Check out the satellite image for that day 11/08/2010, a few hours earlier. See how there are clouds in one area (out to sea), but not over LA? That’s because the atmosphere varies in temperature and humidity from place to place.

  9. Bobbo / Nov 12 2010 8:55 am

    Uncinus, couldn’t agree more. That morning a weather system had moved through So Cal which brought rain to different parts of the area. The air behind the system would have been full of moisture, especially out over the water which would cause contrails to be much bigger and longer lasting then typical contrails. Longer in length, fuller in size and longer in duration contrails indicate high moisture in the air while smaller, thinner shorter duration (or nonexistant) contrails indicate less moisture. The weather that day was conducive to big contrails over the water when compared to a typical day.

  10. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 8:55 am

    How high was the helicopter? How many is several? How high do you think they hover? To me it sounds like you are saying this chopper was about as high as it could possibly go which would be a crazy way to catch the sunset. Doesn’t really matter because nothing else you said makes sense either.

  11. Bobbo / Nov 12 2010 9:06 am

    lllcornlll, I figure the helicopter was somewhere between 1000 ft and 5000 ft. Typical helicopter flight altitudes in LA. At the beginning of this site, Uncinus describes how to calculate how far someone can see because of the curvature of the earth. The higher someone is the farther the can see around this curve. So even if it was only 1000 ft high the helicopter would have seen and videod a much larger trail then observers on the ground.

    What part of my eye witness report doesn’t make sense? because I would be glad to go into more detail to make it clearer.

  12. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 9:10 am

    I’d imagine the chopper was only around 1000 feet or less. They keep low to stay out of the way of local general aviation traffic.

    See this video which demonstrates the curvature of the earth from that point:

  13. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 9:13 am

    Sorry don’t buy it. The more photos and math and weather you bring into this, the more unscientific it gets. Sure makes it sound like you know what you are talking about tho. This is about the video. If this is a contrail of a passenger jet, why is it impossible to find a video of a known passenger jet that looks like this one did?

  14. jb92563 / Nov 12 2010 9:21 am

    So what if it was a rocket launched from a Sub?

    Southern California has plenty of military target ranges and since the rocket would be flying above controlled airspace for most of the flight it poses no particular danger.

    You don’t think that these kinds of dangers are flying all the time over your heads?

    People are generally very niave and have no clue of what really goes on out there as you only will ever know about these things when the Govm’t wants you to know or messes up, which is rare.

    I’ll bet few people know what the TFR around Mount Palomar in Socal is about and the high power laser activity in that area.

    I expect that submariners have to practice missile launches and since the target ranges are inland it is logical to assume that they must fly over Socal.

    No conspiracy, just military stuff going on, and you are not on the “need to know list”.


  15. Michael / Nov 12 2010 9:22 am

    You guys are absolutely hilarious. Really. I’ve never seen such naivety on public display since the Moon Hoax forums.

    Plagiarist boasts his credentials as a photographer and a technician. Wow. A tech, mind you, not an engineer. The difference is about 6 years of higher education and apparently a lot of IQ points.

    Without addressing the myriad of facts presented above his post, he invokes the double-standard of wanting his conjecture discussed. He says, “Instead of commenting on the content of a post you call people names and point out what idiots they are. Very classy.”

    I thought it was funny, not classy. (Good job Mike). But I’ll indulge you anyway.

    “The news video, clearly showing where the launch vehicle lifted from the ocean surface much like a sea launch ICBM”
    Incorrect. The video shows a horizontal plume that stretches to the horizon. It is horizontal and not vertical because it does not have sunset striations. Vertical plumes in sunset look like this:
    Red on bottom, white on top, rainbow in-between. This plume is not vertical, because it does not have these traits. In your next post be sure to address this.

    “The vehicle … is traveling at velocities much greater than what a non hypersonic or supper sonic aircraft is capable of achieving.”
    Wrong. It stays in the same section of sky for the entire time he’s filming it. Since this is unsupported conjecture, it can be dismissed easily. Please explain how something moving at rocket speeds doesn’t go anywhere for 10 minutes.

    “Judging from [a bunch of junk] light from the rear of the vehicle is not a reflection from the sun.”
    Wrong. Judging from this video, which has absolutely no engine flare, I conclude that the helicopter cameraman was lucky enough to be in the reflected path of the sunlight off the fuselage. Please explain how NO other videos or pictures of it show any light, ever.

    Your technical analysis shows how little you actually know about this. I would not hire you.


    lllcornlll wrote:
    “You are saying it is moving between 2 regions of air but you are also saying it is a passenger jet that is flying at a level altitude. Not sure how it can be both.”

    When you get on a plane, and the stewardess says, “When the captain turns off the seatbelt sign, you are free to roam about the cabin. However, we may hit unexpected turbulence so we suggest you keep your seatbelt fastened at all times during the flight.”

    Pop Quiz!

    What do you think unexpected turbulence is for a plane flying straight and level? Think hard now, but don’t hurt yourself… Almost there?… Just a few more seconds…

    Ok pencils down. The answer is “Unexpected turbulence for a straight and level flight is caused by entering A DIFFERENT REGION OF AIR!” (omg no way!).

    It’s ok. Everyone fails the quizzes. You can make it up on the final.

  16. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 9:24 am

    This is about the video. If this is a contrail of a passenger jet, why is it impossible to find a video of a known passenger jet that looks like this one did?

    Erm, this IS a video of a known passenger jet. The contrail is in the EXACT SAME POSITION AT THE SAME TIME, as AWE808.

    Heres another video of a plane doing the same thing:

  17. JetPilot1 / Nov 12 2010 9:33 am

    Everybody, it is clear to me that lllcornlll is nothing more than a troll who is simply trying to keep this thread alive for his own amusement. NOBODY except a professional troll would, after being confronted with the mountains of scientific evidence presented on this site and elsewhere, continue to post ridiculous and inflammatory commentary the way he does. His posts are specifically intended to keep people’s blood pressure high, and that is the mark of a true pro.

    Ignore him. Do not feed the troll. He means you harm. He will scuttle back into his mom’s basement soon.

  18. Bobbo / Nov 12 2010 9:39 am

    lllcornlll, you say my statements don’t make sense and now you “don’t buy it” but you still haven’t given a specific example of what you don’t like. It’s not a conversation if all we do is say “yes it is”, “no it’s not”, “yes it is”, etc.

  19. Bobbo / Nov 12 2010 9:46 am

    JetPilot1, couldn’t agree more, but I had an hour to kill and I find it entertaining watching some of these peoples logic go round and round and in the end they don’t actual say anything.

  20. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 10:28 am

    I told you what I don’t agree with. No offense to you or anyone else with an opinion, but do you really think you are more qualified than our entire government to figure this out? Yes there are some good points made here but they are made from one point of view and can easily be twisted around. The math is useless from a video unless you know the exact location of all variables. The photos are comparing apples to oranges. It just doesn’t add up. Who said that other video was of a known passenger jet? Oh ya, the person that runs this site.
    I and most of the world have only seen a few seconds of video and it is not enough to make all these assumptions. Maybe a rocket scientist could if he had other info to go with the video. I don’t care if it is a jet or a missile but i am interested and want to know for sure. Nov. 9 was my birthday and as I was sleeping in all I heard was missile this missile that but I thought I was dreaming. I have seen jets that I thought were launches at first, I know it can happen and this may be one of those cases. While this site and others have made some good points and all that, I still don’t see where it has been proven. But in the press it is now a fact. No official has said it is definitely flight 808. How is this site so qualified that it can say it is definitely flight 808? The FAA said it can’t even say that, which I also do not believe. I don’t claim to be an expert and I said all I need to. I will keep reading the comments tho.

  21. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 10:33 am

    lol a professional troll. this is the first time i have ever posted on a site like this. do you mean i can get paid for this because that would be awesome.

  22. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 10:46 am

    Yes there is scientific evidence here, but if you know anything about science you need to eliminate all variables to come up with a conclusion. I don’t see how that has been done. Smell you all later!

  23. The Truth / Nov 12 2010 10:48 am

    China flexed its military muscle Monday evening in the skies west of Los Angeles when a Chinese Navy Jin class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, deployed secretly from its underground home base on the south coast of Hainan island, launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from international waters off the southern California coast. WMR’s intelligence sources in Asia, including Japan, say the belief by the military commands in Asia and the intelligence services is that the Chinese decided to demonstrate to the United States its capabilities on the eve of the G-20 Summit in Seoul and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Tokyo, where President Obama is scheduled to attend during his ten-day trip to Asia.

    The reported Chinese missile test off Los Angeles came as a double blow to Obama. The day after the missile firing, China’s leading credit rating agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating, downgraded sovereign debt rating of the United States to A-plus from AA. The missile demonstration coupled with the downgrading of the United States financial grade represents a military and financial show of force by Beijing to Washington.

    The Pentagon spin machine, backed by the media reporters who regularly cover the Defense Department, as well as officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the U.S. Northern Command, is now spinning various conspiracy theories, including describing the missile plume videotaped by KCBS news helicopter cameraman Gil Leyvas at around 5:00 pm Pacific Standard Time, during the height of evening rush hour, as the condensation trail from a jet aircraft. Other Pentagon-inspired cover stories are that the missile was actually an amateur rocket or an optical illusion.

    Missile experts, including those from Jane’s in London, say the plume was definitely from a missile, possibly launched from a submarine. WMR has learned that the missile was likely a JL-2 ICBM, which has a range of 7,000 miles, and was fired in a northwesterly direction over the Pacific and away from U.S. territory from a Jin class submarine. The Jin class can carry up to twelve such missiles.

    Navy sources have revealed that the missile may have impacted on Chinese territory and that the National Security Agency (NSA) likely posseses intercepts of Chinese telemtry signals during the missile firing and subsequent testing operations.

    Asian intelligence sources believe the submarine transited from its base on Hainan through South Pacific waters, where U.S. anti-submarine warfare detection capabilities are not as effective as they are in the northern and mid-Pacific, and then transited north to waters off of Los Angeles. The Pentagon, which has spent billions on ballistic missile defense systems, a pet project of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is clearly embarrassed over the Chinese show of strength.

  24. Michael / Nov 12 2010 10:59 am

    “Maybe a rocket scientist could if he had other info to go with the video.”

    Well good news! You have a trained rocket engineer in the room!

    These are from many years ago, but here’s a picture of my instructor explaining how rocket fuel burns in open atmosphere. And here’s a picture of it burning under partial containment. Here’s a picture of me loading the first rocket I ever made into a stand. *Sniff…memories…* And here’s a video of me firing the rocket, observing the mach diamonds created, and saying “That was awesome” at the end of it.

    It was a jet.

  25. Mike / Nov 12 2010 11:05 am

    Yes, yes, prisonplanet, copy, uncinus.wordpress, paste. Would you like your award now or later? (Tip: say “now,” because it’s a small ice sculpture of a cube.)

  26. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 11:30 am

    I’ve posted an update, with an explanation of perspective

  27. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 12:01 pm

    lllcornlll, you can check it yourself, go here for instructions on how to download Google Earth and the track of flight 808

    I’m not claiming any authority. I’m just pointing out the track matches the photos exactly. All the variables there are known – the time of day, the exact position of the aircraft, and the position of the photographer (condo on E Ocean Blvd, looking over Bixby Island).

    It matches, you can check it.

  28. Denticles / Nov 12 2010 4:36 pm

    OK, so it probably was just jet, but doesn’t anyone else find it a bit worrying that the US defense setup does not enable quick and accurate comparison of visual observations and radar/GPS or other instrument readings?

    Not having any expertise in such matters, it would seem to me that given the position of the aircraft and landmarks from a still picture or frame video footage it should be possible to draw a line along which the object must fall, even if distance is unknown. Then by overlaying a map with that line drawn on top of a map showing the positions of all known jetcraft in the air at the time of the video frame being analyzed.
    Assuming there is some degree of error in all these measurements and they best you can get is a cone instead of a vector and a certain radius of high confidence around the positions airplanes, perhaps there would be a few planes that could plausibly be responsible.
    If there were more than one candidate object, it should be use the pixel area of the object to narrow down the possibilities based on apparent size at different distances. Changes in pixel brightness and the angle could be used to further constrain choices.

    What if, instead of a funny looking jet plume, someone had witnessed, caught a glimpse of some sort of stealth spyplane from another country? Imagine this spyplane is detectable by our defenses, but only with a high rate of false positives. Such a craft would require a combination of visual and instrument observations to detect reliably. I certainly hope that our military has our skies covered with human eyes in addition to the finest electronics and best algorithms available.

    If our defenses lack the ability to make visual observation and instrument readings work together effectively, that seems an awful Achilles heel.

  29. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 4:42 pm

    UPDATE – After geting a new photo of the trail, Liam Bahneman told me he was now siding with it being his second choice, UPS902.  Having reviewed the evidence, I fully agree that UPS902 is a much better fit than AWE808, especially when viewed against the composite photo.

  30. Jay / Nov 12 2010 5:00 pm

    Are You Certain?
    WAS it United Parcel Service flight 902 or US Airways flight 808???
    It can’t be both!!! wich one was it?

    Has United Parcel Service confirmed this?


  31. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 5:09 pm

    I’m 90% sure it’s UPS902

    UPS can’t give any extra info. It’s all there in the radar track. Seems to match up exactly with the Warren photos

  32. Bobbo / Nov 12 2010 5:31 pm

    Uncinus, nice job on matching the photos to the flight path. Hopefully that will persuade some but I doubt it.

  33. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 5:45 pm

    Updated the video

  34. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 6:54 pm

    i’m 90% sure you are all a joke. first you are positive it was 808, you say download the flight path it proves it. now you are positive it was something else. and you aren’t even coming up with this on your own. why should we listen to you, sounds like the other guy knows more than you, lol. and he is just blogger that doesn’t even proof read his posts. At least he is a little more honest about the other possibilities and variables on his site.
    have you ever considered that all you have is a hypothesis and you can not possibly have enough info to come to a conclusion? just cause a plane may have been in a general area maybe around the same time possibly does not confirm anything. it’s a theory. along with all the other info you have provided. just because you can find a pic that illustrates your point does not make it scientifically relevant. i hate to keep using that wording because i am not a scientist either, but that is how you are representing it. none of it necessarily fits this case. all these people saying the people who don’t think it’s a jet are conspiracy theorists are hypocrites because that is exactly what they are. just on the other side of it. and because of your misreporting a theory to be a conclusion, the rest of us may never know the truth, good job buddy.

  35. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 7:05 pm

    lol lol lol, launching a model rocket does not make you a rocket scientist. where do you work mr. rocket scientist. if you were a scientist you would know this is all bull. and by the way i have a hypothesis of my own, it is there are a few “people” on here in collusion and also people posting under multiple names. pretty obvious. the picture that shows the track is a trip. it doesn’t match at all. i’m not wasting anymore time with you guys, good luck getting back in the news, i know you miss your 15 minutes of fame.

  36. lllcornlll / Nov 12 2010 7:08 pm

    lllcornlll, you can check it yourself, go here for instructions on how to download Google Earth and the track of flight 808

    I’m not claiming any authority. I’m just pointing out the track matches the photos exactly. All the variables there are known – the time of day, the exact position of the aircraft, and the position of the photographer (condo on E Ocean Blvd, looking over Bixby Island).

    It matches, you can check it.

    lol lol lol lol lol, i don’t need to keep talking because you do a better job proving my point than i can. you know nothing. admit it.

  37. Bobbo / Nov 12 2010 7:34 pm

    Uncinus, I just wanted to thank you for a well made site in which you presented information in a reasonable and understandable manner. Your site created a great environment for people with opposing views to discuss their differences and for all to see the event from all sides in order to form whatever opinion the information presented to each. Based on the discussions, your presentations and my own eye witness information, of which I posted, I am very comfortable going to bed tonight knowing in my mind what occurred Monday was just a jet. I know there are others who, based on the same data, have come to the exact opposite conclusion and what I say to that is I’m glad I live in the USA where we can agree to disagree. What I do know for certain is that I don’t have anymore info that I can add to the discussion that is constructive to the topic, so time for me to call it quits. Thanks all for a good discussion and debate and again thanks Uncinus for the place to do it.

  38. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 7:36 pm

    There were two flights that both crossed over Catalina Island at about the same time. The problem was lining them up with the video and the photos. It was difficult because the exact viewpoint was not known, and nor was the time, AWE808 seemed a better match to the initial data. It DID match.

    But once a new photo was found (from LAX, a distant viewpoint, with the EXACT time), then things could essentially be triangulated, and the correct track was apparent.

    But it could easily have been either plane. UPS was 2,000 feet higher, so it was the one that ended up making the contrail.

  39. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 7:40 pm

    Thanks Bobbo!

  40. Uncinus / Nov 12 2010 7:51 pm

    See both trails cut across the sky in a similar way, but not knowing the precise time or viewpoint mean that intially 808 looked like the better bet as it was heading more towards Long Beach.

    Then, new information caused us to revise the theory. The mark of good science is being able to quickly modify your thinking if something shows you are wrong. I was wrong (not by much, but still), so I’ve revised.

    How did the LAX photo change your thinking lllcornlll? Check it out here:

  41. Michael / Nov 12 2010 8:59 pm

    I see. What *would* make me rocket scientist, lllcornlll?

  42. Uncinus / Nov 13 2010 7:30 am

    Now that the commenting here has died down, I’m going to close this thread. This was just an overflow site, and you can continue discussion on the main site:


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