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U.S. Says California’s Mystery Contrail Likely a Plane

The Pentagon concluded that a contrail videotaped off the Southern California coast this week probably was caused by a non-military aircraft, a spokesman said.

“The Department of Defense, after gathering information over the last 36 hours from within, and other U.S. government agencies, is satisfied that the contrail was likely caused by an aircraft,” Colonel David Lapan, a spokesman, said today.

“There’s no evidence to suggest that it was other than an aircraft,” Lapan told reporters. “We have looked at lots of data sources.” The issue is now closed, he said.

A news helicopter from Los Angeles television station KCBS captured video of a trail of vapor across the sky west of Los Angeles and north of Catalina Island, about 35 miles off the coast, at sunset on Nov. 8. Speculation arose that it might have been caused by a missile launch.

All U.S. defense entities “with rocket and missile programs reported no launches, scheduled or inadvertent, during the time period in the area of the reported contrail,” Lapan had said yesterday.

In addition, the two military agencies responsible for protecting the nation -- the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command -- said they had determined “there was no threat to the U.S. homeland,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t been able to determine the location, altitude or trajectory of the contrail, said Ian Gregor, an agency spokesman, in an interview.

“Without knowing that information, we can’t pinpoint a source,” Gregor said. “We can’t say where the contrail came from.”

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