“Mystery missile” was probably an aircraft, government says
A Pentagon official said that an examination of radar data, satellite imagery and other sophisticated monitoring technology by multiple U.S. government agencies has turned up no conclusive evidence that a missile was fired in that vicinity and at that time.
Even U.S. agencies that monitor launches of rockets by private individuals or companies had no information of a launch, he said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said that FAA records showed commercial airliners were flying in the area at the time, and that most government experts were coming to the conclusion that the condensation trail was caused by an aircraft. "The best we can tell, it was probably caused by an aircraft," the official said.
John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org, a website for military policy research, agrees. He said the idea that the government would carry out a secret launch illuminated at sunset, within view of 8 million Angelenos, is hard to believe.
"If it were secret, we'd do it at night in Alaska where only the caribou could see it," Pike said. "It's an airplane contrail, pure and simple."
The vehicle is not moving fast enough and does not have the trajectory characteristics of a rocket, he said. The reason people think it's a rocket is because it's an optical illusion, he said.
The plane is coming over the horizon, straight at the camera. Because of the angle and the lighting at sunset it appears as a rocket rising, he said.
"I've seen a lot of rocket and airplane contrails over the years," he said. "What I saw was an airplane contrail."
-- David S. Cloud at the Pentagon and W.J. Hennigan in Los Angeles
Photo: A KCBS helicopter cameraman captured footage of a mysterious missile-like projectile Monday evening. Credit: KCBS-TV