Pentagon stumped over 'missile'
Published 10/11/2010 | 09:59
A vapour trail resembling a missile launch that crossed the skies off the Southern California coast has left US defence chiefs baffled.
Video posted on the CBS News website shows an object flying through the evening sky that left a large contrail, or vapour trail. A news helicopter owned by KCBS, a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, shot the video.
Pentagon officials were stumped by the event.
"Nobody within the Department of Defence that we've reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is, where it came from," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said.
While the vapour cloud captured on video resembled that created by a rocket in flight, military officials said they knew of no launches in the area.
Col Lapan said "all indications" were that the defence department was not involved with the object.
One expert called it an optical illusion. "It's an airplane that is heading towards the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun," said John Pike, director of US-based security analyst group globalsecurity.org.
The North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) issued a statement jointly with the US Northern Command (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.