According to the Washington Post, the mysterious vapor trail that appeared high in the sky off the Los Angeles coast Nov. 7 was caused by a jet and not a missile as some, including a former senior U.S. defense official, had speculated.
Footage taken by a news helicopter owned by a CBS affiliate showed an object that appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed and leaving a large condensation trail, or contrail, behind it. The contrail, which shone brightly in the light of the setting sun, caused many to speculate that the object in question was a missile.
“That theory got legs once another CBS affiliate, KFMB in San Diego, showed the clip to Robert Ellsworth, a former deputy secretary of defense and ambassador to NATO, to get his thoughts. ‘It’s spectacular … It takes people’s breath away,’ he said. He called the projectile a ‘big missile. ‘”
The U.S. military disavowed any responsibility for the contrail but offered reassurances that there was no threat to national security. Several experts later speculated that the object was merely a jet viewed from an unusual angle.