Mystery 'Missile Launch' off California Coast?
Condensation Trail Videotaped off the Southern California Coast

Mystery 'Missile Launch' off California Coast?
Condensation Trail Videotaped off the Southern California Coast

An unauthorized missile launch or is it simply a contrail left from an aircraft? Some believe it was a missile launch from a submarine along the west coast.

A helicopter from the Los Angeles CBS News affiliate captured images of what appears to be some sort of rocket or missile with a large contrail behind it. It appears to have been launched about 35 miles (56 km) off the coast of Los Angeles, California.

There are several military bases in Southern California, but so far none have said there were any launches at that time. The US Navy has said they are not responsible and the Pentagon is still investigating where the mystery missile came from.

The Pentagon says a condensation trail videotaped off the Southern California coast this week was probably caused by a non-military aircraft.

"There's no evidence to suggest that it was other than an aircraft," Colonel David Lapan said. "We have looked at lots of data sources." The issue is now closed, he said.

The phenomenon recorded Monday (November 8th, 2010) evening by a TV news helicopter created a media sensation and a vapour trail of commentary across the Internet about the possibility of a secret missile firing.

But the military insisted it knew of no rockets that launched in the area. Defence Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Wednesday that officials were satisfied it was an airplane contrail distorted by camera angle, winds and other environmental factors including the setting sun.

The U.S. military has been scrambling since Tuesday morning to figure out what was seen in the skies over Los Angeles Monday night after a local CBS news traffic helicopter captured the video of what appeared to be a major missile or rocket launch 35 miles northwest of Santa Catalina Island.

The video shows an enormous condensation trail following a brightly lit object, similar to images seen during a space or missile launch.

After KCBS news out of Los Angeles aired the video Monday night national news organization picked it up and began demanding answers from the Pentagon.

Without clear answers coming from the military the story was quickly dubbed the: "mystery missile."

A U.S. Northern Command official who didn't want to be identified said the contrail could very well be from an airplane.

An "illusion" effect made the contrail appear as if it's rising straight up, but it's actually level, the official said. The event is similar to another sighting around New Year's Eve in which observers believed they witnessed a missile, he said.

The Pentagon's announcement on Wednesday, November 10th, appeared to put the "missile" theory to rest.

"There is no evidence to suggest that this is anything else other than a condensation trail from an aircraft," said Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan, who stopped short of saying definitively that the Defense Department believed the trail was caused by an airplane.

Some websites have even identified the plane as daily U.S. Airways flight 808 from Hawaii to Phoenix. U.S. Airways officials say they could not confirm it's their plane.

According to John Pike, an expert of aerospace and defense, "This thing is so obviously an airplane contrail, and yet apparently all the king's horses and all the king's men can't find someone to stand up and say it, I guess the president's out of town."

While reflecting on peoples’ concern of missile over California, Pike stated that the vapor trail appeared like a missile launch because of an ocular illusion that made the vapor trail come out as though it went on track from ground and propelled up.