'Mystery Missile' May Have Been A Jet

Video frame grab provided by KCBS/KCAL of what was seen off the California coast on Nov. 8.

What's it look like to you? Anonymous/KCSB/KCAL hide caption

toggle caption Anonymous/KCSB/KCAL

Good morning.

Before we turn to the really serious stuff, an update on the "mystery missile" story from California.

When we last checked on this odd tale, no one — including the military folks who monitor the airspace above the U.S. — seemed to know just what was seen off the coast near Los Angeles Monday evening. But it sure looked like a missile had blasted into the sky.

Now, though, there's talk that it might have been something as simple as the exhaust from a jet. As writes, from some angles jet contrails can look like missile trails. And it's got photos to prove the point. (H/T Fox News.)

Still, as the Los Angeles Times reports, some experts who have watched video of the event say they're sure this wasn't just a passenger jet heading off toward the horizon:

"It can't belong to anyone but the military," said Marco Caceres, an analyst with Teal Group Corp., a Fairfax, Va.-based aerospace research firm. The appearance of such a massive rocket contrail near military bases that are known for regularly testing missiles is unlikely to be a coincidence, Caceres said.

NPR's Tom Gjelten reported this morning that the Pentagon says "nothing leads the Defense Department to believe that a missile launch occurred, even inadvertently":

'Mystery Missile'?


  • Playlist
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

'Mystery Missile'?

Update at 4:05 p.m. ET: We've started a new post because some Internet sleuths say they've figured out which flight likely caused the contrail and that there's a web cam we all can watch that might show it happen again.

Update at 2:50 p.m. ET: Now the Pentagon is saying the trail was most likely created by an airplane. And KCBS-TV in Los Angeles has filed a new report.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from