White Lines in the Sky: A Conspiracy?

Posted March 10, 2009 – As we all know, a jet doesn’t leave a white trail when it takes off. Nor does one appear when it’s low. But when it climbs high into very cold air the story changes.

nasa-contrailsJets burn kerosene. If you’ve ever used a kerosene heater, you’ve smelled exhaust products rising from the unit. These include water vapor, bits of carbon soot, some carbon compounds like methane, and trace amounts of impurities like metals. Well, when jets climb above 30,000 feet, the air is so cold at -40° that the exhaust’s water vapor instantly freezes into ice crystals. This is a contrail, a short white line behind the jet’s engines. It often dissipates in seconds as each crystal sublimates back to invisible vapor.

Jets even higher up zoom through such cold air, it takes a long time for the contrail ice to re-vaporize. Higher humidity can preserve it, too. The contrail lingers as a long white line across the entire sky. Winds often distort these into various curves. If the air mass is very humid, the exhaust’s soot particles enter the picture to act as condensation nuclei — like cloud seeding — to produce a thicker contrail as surrounding atmospheric vapor freezes as well.

In seconds the dense ice crystal formation spreads out and widens. It can expand into a long cloud that casts an odd shadow. Or, very rarely, in very high humidity, the contrail can act as the “starter yogurt” for a cloud covering the entire sky. People into meteorology have observed all these various contrail varieties since the 1930s. Contrail science is even taught in college courses, to show how an individual can assess the temperature and humidity at high altitudes.

These man-made pencil clouds reflect sunlight into space. Just a few years ago scientists were concerned that all the jet traffic would have a cooling effect on the planet. But global warming has made that issue go away. If anything, jet contrails are now seen as helpful.

Some folks regard contrails suspiciously. Apparently, many don’t know what they are. Several websites call the lines chemtrails, and think that the US military is deliberately spraying a substance upon the population.

This is silly for a number of reasons. First, if you’ve ever watched crop dusting you know that chemicals must be released very close to the ground. Released on high, they’d dissipate with the wind and take forever to get down; the concentration on the folks below would be zero. Second, my commercial pilot friends (along with the controllers at the FAA) would all have to go along with the plot, since they’d see the process happening. I’m a pilot and airplane owner myself: It’s NOT happening. Third, what would be the purpose? Some say mind control. But are people acting differently lately? Others say it’s to sow disease. But why would anyone want to do this? Who would go along with it? Finally, some say “chemtrails” are a government project to combat global warming. Nice, but then why should such a laudible effort be kept secret? Other web-based “explanations” involve even wackier stuff like electromagnetic rays.

Logic never placates the truly paranoid, and discussions are rarely satisfying. Those who “believe” WANT to believe, and claim soil tests show that dangerous substances have been found beneath the planes. But again, nothing released from 40,000 feet would ever reach the ground except diluted to zero. And, more to the point, the videos of these supposed “chemtrails” shown on the scare web sites are actually a common type of contrail. The believers claim they’ve only started around 1998 – but I’ve observed those “spreading out” contrails for over 40 years. They’re not new. They’re contrails. No mystery, and nothing sinister here at all.


  1. michelle
    | Permalink

    thanks for helping me wave off the delusions of grandeur, paranoid conclusion, and pointless, fear-based thinking which my father possessed. This very negatively affected my young, impressionable mind for years.
    Today, as a 40-something, I find great pleasure in debunking many false theories which i clutched as absolute truth.
    I thoroughly enjoy deflating the conspiracy-laden type of thinking which tends to suck all energy from one’s soul. A pleasure to find your website via the Old Farmer’s Almanac! Thanks for explaining truth, which is much easier sailing than the darkness i grew up with, and sadly,continue to hear from many, today.


  3. Dave
    | Permalink

    Hey Jon,
    The word is HEAR, not here. Liquid has no E at the end of the word.
    What kind of illiterate scientist are you?

    And that key, way over to the left is called the CAPS LOCK.
    Put you pinky finger on it and watch what happens!
    Ah-ha! No more capitals.
    Hey, gotta go get my tinfoil hat.
    Thanks for the comment but:

    The stuff in the sky is most likely the newer jet fuel which must contain aluminum particulate matter and stuff to reflect the sun. And add to that the idea that it could have a two-fold purpose–Maybe this thin veil of cloud cover produced by the mass dissipation of all this out-gassing can be used to enhance military radar and harmonics over the horizon line? NOW THAT’S FOOD FOR THOUGHT. Snoozing (calming) the public sounds ridiculous.

    The more plausible explanation is probably the latter and maybe you should be researching about HAARP and TESLA’s theory about the earth being a sphere of acoustic resonance.

    Go for it!

  4. rikki
    | Permalink

    i don’t know whats going on, but something IS going on. i see these white lines just appear in the sky out of know where. they slowly move downward, and last for hours. Sometimes, you’ll see a ball of white light at the end of the line, that appears and disappears. They’re everywhere and i can’t believe that no one is aware of this. not one person can tell me its a plane doing this. I don’t know what these are, but people, OPEN YOUR EYES…look up, i’m telling you these white lines/ball of lights are EVERYWHERE!!!!

  5. Jake
    | Permalink

    jon, at least “THAY” know how to spell. And if you were truly intelligent enough to work with such chemicals, you would not be dumb enough to misspell words. I am a pilot also, with common sense. It’s not a conspiracy. But one thing I do know, and I read this from a Jeppesen book, I believe, is that after 9/11 when they landed all the jets, the average temperature of the US went up. I thought it was intriguing.

  6. Lane
    | Permalink


    Contrail actually is short hand for condensation trail. And with all due respect, they actually don’t happen right away. I have taken numerous photos of contrails, and they generally don’t form for about 1/2 of the plane length. The exhaust gases have to cool enough for the water vapor to freeze.

    Some other interesting effects are the ways in which the trails combine. Some four engine planes have engines rotating in the same direction, so the trails combine in a non-symetrical pattern, while others with opposite rotations leave a symmetrical pattern. Planes with three engines (one in the tail of the fuselage) leave a trail with a “peak” on the top. (I watched as we flew parallel to one going into New York).

    The 9/11 story was confirmed by NOAA. After the planes stopped flying the average air temperature rose by approximately 2.7 degrees, (less reflection back out to space), followed by a 2.7 degree drop after the “skies” were “filled” once again with the ice formed by the water vapor.

    Thank you Bob for a wonderful series of well written observational tales about physics in easy language.

    (PS For the conspiracists, think about how willing the airlines would be to adding extra weight… of anything…)

  7. Ian
    | Permalink

    Wow I have been wondering what these white “clouds” in the sky were ever sence I was a kid. Now I know.


  8. Michael
    | Permalink

    Hello hahahaha! LMAO it’s Gas discharge, and it does stay in our atmosphere until it rains, then eventually hits the ground, Half soaks in, half evaporates back in to our atmosphere. It can’t leave our atmosphere, because nothing or Nobody can leave our atmosphere. That theory of people going to space in space shuttles is a crock a crap in my opinion. Believe what you want, just keep faith in the LORD, and stop worrying about things.

  9. Attractive component to content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to say that I get actually loved account your weblog posts. Any way I will be subscribing on your feeds or even I success you get entry to persistently rapidly.

  10. Breezy
    | Permalink

    Jake says the temperature of the planet increased when all the jets were grounded. Well here another 1. So did the attitudes of the population. U DO THE
    MATH. I’m just sayN

  11. math
    | Permalink

    So if this lines are made up by condensation. How come, sometimes as the lines appear behind the plane they cut off a few times and is not a solid line?

  12. Danny
    | Permalink

    I honestly think that there’s something sinister over this I live close to JFK and I see planes taking off every day but also see others coming from unknown different direction leaving a big tail even 4 of those air plain at a time so I think are those military planes of some sort or a new high tech is strange not only that they seems more often than ever ummm government cover up maybe

  13. john
    | Permalink

    I would believe contrails were natural if I hadnt seen one with my own two eyes at a altitute well below 40,000 ft. probably half that height. It was clearly not a contrail. So dont believe everything you hear

  14. Kevin
    | Permalink

    I lived on a farm few miles from a airport where atleast 5 jets take off per day standing in the field you could watch the planes gain hight then suddenly at a certain hight a white line would start to form behind the plane and yes it is formed from vapors from the engine if you use a telescope with much difficulty you can actually track the plane see how it forms… and seriously if you think it’s some mind control stuff they’re spraying clearly using an engine burning at such high temperatures to scatter it wont work will be burnt off almost instantaneously. nuff said

  15. Yisha Fan
    | Permalink

    On 12/20/2012, i saw those white lines. They were neatly made into a grid with triangles every (lets say around 5) miles. I’ve never seen it before, and it was there recently. Considering that 12/21-24/2012 is supposedly when the world is going to end(which i don’t believe) could they be connected or am I being a worrywart? Oh yeah, they weren’t there this morning, so they were recent to the time of the message.

  16. Anonymous
    | Permalink

    Planes fly up to 35,000 feet. This article claims that jets leave behind these “trails” at 30,000 feet because of exposure to “cold air”. Planes are much larger than jets and if this excuse of cold air were true, planes would also leave behind these trails. I believe these are chemical trails that are use for weather modification. Say what you will, but whether you like it or not our brains are run by chemicals and frequencies. There is no denying that the gov’t has control over both.

  17. nadia
    | Permalink

    Considering the government already admits to weather modification via jets, I would think twice before accepting this information as fact. They made it rain in Vietnam to cut off supply from the so called enemy. Just remember, the government will always want to appear to be a loving entity no matter what their motives and from experience, their motives haven’t always been good. Gmo`s in the food we’re eating…the USA has a higher mortality rate than third world countries. Wake up people, people here are fat from the food, not lack of exercise. Look at the gmo animal studies.

  18. Mike
    | Permalink

    Wow I finally got into a w-lines web sight…. first of all, I been watchin these fools for years. Seems as though these Contrails/Chemtrails seem to create rain within a week ???? Oh and the new trail seem to make it very cold …even on the same night it is sprayed shaww! O and I fly planes and I can Honesty Speak The TRUTH ….. NO jumbo jet will leave a trail longer than 5,000 feet behind them. Hopefully the Idiots aren’t Trouble makers ,we got enough CRAP to deal with a.

  19. dave
    | Permalink

    Well some days I see NO Planes clear blue skies.. other days like this morn there where HUNDREDS of criss corrsing straight lines some where curvy but mostly straight and the were three plans out flying too can someone explain this Im sure my local airport (60miles) fly on just certain days :L

  20. ken
    | Permalink

    some one needs to fly through the chemtrails or whatever you think they are and scoop up some of the cloud exhaust dust / particles. Then show and tell…

  21. barre
    | Permalink

    Well two black choppers passed yesterday and an increase in planes passing yesterday and a numerous amount of planes shot trails and I counted 16 already at 7 am I think its a chemical I don’t know what going on but it seems suspension to me cuz I think its a problem I never see that many planes pass at once

  22. Well of course I have no idea what was going on, aviation wise, in your area.
    But that stuff behind planes is mostly condensing water vapor from the fuel. The stuff turns into ice crystals. Been observed since the 1930s.

  23. Well, do you really think these things, which have appeared behind aircraft since the 1930s, have never been analyzed? Heck, sometimes you get research planes flying through the exhauts (contrails) of a plane in front of them. It’s ice crystals. That’s why their appearance predictably varies with the temperature and humidity. No mystery there at all.
    But one more thing, as an aircraft owner myself, I personally know a bunch of commercial pilots, and have met many air traffic controllers. Do you really think thousands of us would be willing to poison our families and friends in the cities below us, for 80 years, and keep it quiet from the press? Why would anyone do that? Do you really think we pilots hate our fellow Americans? – Bob

  24. Jennifer
    | Permalink

    Bob, It may be helpful to do research on climate engineering. I understand that while you feel your “logic never placates the truly paranoid”, it is an unproductive response.

  25. Dee
    | Permalink

    I’ve been taking pics of the sky from my backyard for years now, because some clouds just look beautiful. This spring however April 2015, their has been a ridiculous amount of lines left by aircraft. So I decided to stay outside last week and look at the sky with my binoculars to see what type of planes it was that were making these lines. Turns out they were military planes. And yes they flew very high up and were barely visible with a camera. I’m not sure what is going on. But it’s very strange to see so many military planes each day. Today is Saturday and I haven’t seen one at all. I’m not into illuminati or conspiracy theories, but when I see 15 to 20 aircraft a day leaving huge trails like that, it begs the question “why?”.

  26. I guess you’re talking about “chemtrails” — which are sometimes ‘explained’ as a Gov’t attempt at climate engineering. Is that it? The problem is: They don’t exist. Those are contrails, behind planes. No mystery is involved. Everyone involved in aviation (not to mention meteorology) is totally familiar with them.

  27. Winds, and variable sublimation. watch a while and you see the contrail dissipation isn’t always uniform.

  28. Ellie
    | Permalink

    What if it happens at night during a blood moon?

  29. http://fotographybykaashi.com/robertomjunior/fe9b3-21395-139.htmlTiffany 指輪 シルバー,ティファニー 指輪 人気,日傘 ニナリッチ
    ティファニー ピアス,ティファニー 婚約指輪 カラット,ニナリッチ 香水 レベルドゥリッチ [url=http://skisg.net/robertomjunior/bf205-61381-15.html]ティファニー ピアス,ティファニー 婚約指輪 カラット,ニナリッチ 香水 レベルドゥリッチ[/url]

One Trackback

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>