LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Pentagon officials said Tuesday it did not know what created a vapor trail that crossed the skies over Los Angeles on Monday night, but they insist the contrail was not the result of a foreign military launching a missile.
Video posted on the CBS Los Angeles website shows an object flying through the evening sky Monday that left a large contrail, or vapor trail. While cruising the skies Monday at sunset, Sky2 captured on video what appears to be a missile making its way up into the sky from over the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
Pentagon officials were stumped by the event. "Nobody within the Department of Defense that we've reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is, where it came from," Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said.
Pentagon Says No Missile Behind Contrail: KNX 1070's Charles Feldman Reports
While the vapor cloud captured on video resembled that created by a rocket in flight, military officials said they didn't know of any launches in the area.
Lapan said that "all indications" were that the Defense Department was not involved with the object.
One expert called it an optical illusion. "It's an airplane that is heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun," said John Pike, director of the U.S.-based security analyst group globalsecurity.org.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, issued a statement jointly with the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, saying that the contrail was not the result of a foreign military launching a missile. It provided no details.
"We can confirm that there is no threat to our nation," the statement said. "We will provide more information as it becomes available."
NORTHCOM is the U.S. defense command and NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian organization charged with protecting the U.S. from the threat of missiles or hostile aircraft.
Pike said the object could not have been a rocket because it appeared to alter its course.
"The local station chopped up the video and so it's hard to watch it continuously," Pike said. "But at one place you can see it has changed course — rockets don't do that."
Pike said he didn't understand why the military had not recognized the contrail of an aircraft. "The Air Force must ...understand how contrails are formed," he said. "Why they can't get some major out to belabor the obvious, I don't know."
Judge for yourself by watching this raw video from Sky2.
Or have a closer look at some of the screen shots we've taken.
Have a theory? Send it to StreetTeam@cbs.com.
(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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