This post first appeared here on September 15, 2012.
Two recent events prompt us to reconsider what happened on the evening of November 8, 2010 off Catalina Island near Los Angeles. One is the recent missile test near White Sands, New Mexico, that was visible to many residents of the Southwest, as pictured in the photos to the left. The other is the explosion of violence in the Middle East, beginning in the two countries that our State Department has most actively abetted in the installation of new regimes while assuring us that they would not be hostile to us and present no threat.
Given this most transparent utter failure of the Obama Administration to be honest with us on the truth of the matter in Egypt and Libya, perhaps this is a good time to review another time, just two years ago, that the administration, through its apparent direction of NORTHCOM and NORAD, assured us that there was no threat, against all the evidence to the contrary.
Just a day after the entire coastal population of the L.A. area witnessed what was termed “obviously” a missile launch by people there who were used to seeing missile contrails from Point Mugu and Vandenberg, and after the local CBS affiliate video-taped the object in flight, the AP reported:
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, issued a statement jointly with the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, saying that the contrail was not the result of a foreign military launching a missile. It provided no further details.
“We can confirm that there is no threat to our nation, and from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military,” the statement said. “We will provide more information as it becomes available.”
This was sufficient for most people to think nothing further about it, even though it was the kind of statement that, of course, was impossible to make honestly, because there was no time to truly make that determination or to verify with any foreign nations whether or not they were involved. FAA Spokesman Ian Gregor also released this statement:
“The FAA ran radar replays of a large area west of Los Angeles based on media reports of the location of a possible missile launch around 5pm Monday. The radar replayed did not reveal any fast moving unidentified targets in that area. The FAA also did not receive reports of any unusual sightings from pilots who were flying in the area Monday afternoon. Finally the FAA did not approve any commercial space launches around the area Monday.”
Later, a series of media experts appeared in interviews claiming that the mystery was solved, like this one with Discovery Channel physicist and UFO expert, Michio Kaku on Fox:
Not everyone agreed, of course, and a vocal group of ex-military analysts and space enthusiasts kept a lively discussion going for a while in blogs and internet forums, but for most people, the story ended there.
The only problem with the turn of events was that almost everything reported about the incident from the Tuesday morning after, was completely wrong. The initial reporting was the only part of the event that was honest. See, for example, this initial report by KCBS:
And let me just get this out of the way right now; the simple and most obvious fact about this whole event is that the KCBS video records, of course, an actual missile flight. It cannot be an aircraft contrail, not unless that aircraft has a lit solid rocket motor strapped to it. As one engineer said about the video, “If anyone looks at that video and says it’s an airplane, they are either lying or stupid.” I could not state it any better myself, and I say that as a working aerospace engineer who’s career has been spent mostly on ICBMs, ICBM-derived launch vehicles and missile defense programs. If someone can eventually prove to me that this contrail is really from an airplane, then I will gladly buy them a house and a lifetime supply of beer. It’s that obvious, and I’ll attempt to make it more obvious to you in the remainder of this post.
But first, let’s look at the claims, like those of Dr. Kaku, that this was really a commercial airplane contrail. In the interview above, he claims that he looked at the KCBS video frame-by-frame and made the following 5 conclusions. The following statements in quotes are Dr. Kaku’s followed by mine in italics.
1. “The object is not accelerating. Rockets accelerate upwards, and this one seems to just cruise at a constant velocity, like an airplane.” It’s true that rockets accelerate as they climb, but that acceleration is slow enough that it’s imperceptible to observers on the ground, especially if the rocket is pitching over and moving away from the observer, which this one is clearly doing. It’s as if he’s not even describing the same video that we’re seeing, because this object actually slows down during the ascent and stops its apparent ascent entirely, as the missile levels out in a westward direction and moves away from the camera, ultimately disappearing. If this were, in fact, an aircraft coming over the horizon towards the camera, it would continue to move steadily overhead, but that’s not what happens.
2. “It’s changing direction slightly. Ballistic missiles never change direction.” This is news to me. In fact, this statement is exactly the opposite of the truth. Missiles never stop changing direction until they are very near their targets. Airplanes, on the other hand, rarely make any sudden changes in flight direction unless they are near take-off or landing or a storm that requires diversion. Here is an airplane contrail, on the right. Does it look straight to you? Of course it does.
And here is a missile launch, on the left. Straight? Not so much. That’s because its autopilot has to react quickly to unforeseen forces, like the splash of water as it explodes out of the sea, or gusts of wind that threaten to knock it off course as well as the inherent instability of it’s flight, flying as it does without fins or stabilizers, which tends to cause it’s flight to look a little like a zigzag path. Also, a rocket follows a pre-programmed trajectory that optimizes the need to get it up out of the atmosphere as fast as possible while pitching over into horizontal flight. This is a characteristic of all missile trajectories, and it’s consistent with the video from Los Angeles.
3. “It’s going in the wrong direction. We fire from Los Angeles, Vandenberg, East to West to Kwajalein in the Pacific. Sometimes north over the pole, in a polar orbit. This thing was going northeast, in the wrong direction.” Every single statement here is essentially wrong, although some flights go west from Vandenberg. The biggest error here is that the missile in the video is clearly NOT going northeast. It is not going in the “wrong” direction. It is pitching over and flying in a westerly direction, away from the camera. There is no other alternative. If the object were flying northeasterly, as Dr. Kaku contends, then it would continue to fly upward and pass over the observer, just as all airplanes do that appear to rise vertically from the horizon. This one does not. Where are the videos of the plume passing overhead? There are several independent videos of the flight posted on YouTube, all terminating when the object reaches a certain point in the sky and stops rising. Airplanes never do that, unless they vanish into thin air. This object is going in precisely the right and expected direction, whether it’s a US missile or a foreign one.
4. “Even though it looks like it’s going vertically, up, maybe you’re looking at it edge-on. When you look at an airplane edge-on, it looks like it’s going straight up, it actually cruising very gently [meaning straight and level].” Dr. Kaku is struggling here to refer to the phenomenon of aircraft contrails that appear to be rising vertically, when in fact they are passing overhead from one horizon to the opposite horizon. As explained in item #3, this is not what happened. All videos of the object show it rising in the western sky and never getting above a certain elevation. This is not consistent with an aircraft flying overhead.
5. “Contrails expand rapidly. The older it is, the wider it gets. So it looks as if that thing is moving away from us, right? Actually, it’s probably moving toward us. It’s an optical illusion.” Dr. Kaku’s physics degree is apparently an optical illusion. The illusion he describes could only happen if the contrail dispersed faster than the vehicle ascends, which is impossible. In the video, the object appears to be moving away from the camera because it is, in fact, moving away from the camera.
Dr. Kaku was not the only ill-chosen expert who ended up being called upon to convince the public of the harmlessness of this event, and that begs the question of why so few actual experts about missiles were brought forward. And where were the media pit-bulls whose job it is to hold the President accountable in case this was an actual threat to national security? It was all a little too easy, wasn’t it?
Now, let me point out a few things that Dr. Kaku was too ignorant or inept to observe. The most obvious is that commercial aircraft all have multiple engines and leave contrails with split trails like the one in the photo above on the right. They are also thin, white and whispy, since they are composed almost entirely of steam, which dissipates rapidly. The contrails of solid rocket motors used to propel all missiles are thicker, more billowy and tend to be off-white and a little dirty looking because of the complex chemical composition. They are always a single, unsplit trail, just like the contrail in the LA video.
But the single, most obvious aspect of the object in the video, is the bright solid rocket motor nozzle flare as you can see in this raw footage from KCBS:
Now look at all these other photos of missile launches that show similar, bright light at the top of the contrail that is so bright it dwarfs even a view of the physical rocket itself.
Isn’t this exactly what we see in the KCBS video? What other explanation is there for the flash? Why didn’t Dr. Kaku or his contemporaries address the flash in their explanations? Why did Dr. Kaku spend all of his time with Shepherd Smith inventing five bogus reasons it was an airplane but didn’t address a single one of the obvious legitimate reasons why it wasn’t? Is he really that inept, or is he just out of his area of expertise? I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you that there is no other reasonable explanation for this event, in my view, other than a missile launch at sea.
As for who’s missile it was, that is a matter for speculation, but I can tell you for certain that the same agencies who were, according to reports, given direction by the White House to state that it was not a foreign threat know every detail about the flight of that missile on November 8th, 2010, and they’re not talking. It’s a simple fact that nothing larger than a tennis ball flies through the skies above Los Angeles without NORTHCOM and NORAD knowing it immediately, especially if it’s hot enough to radiate detectable heat or light. U.S. missile tests in the waters off southern California are routine and expected, and there is good reason to expect that there would be no denial of any such test, especially one that caused no harm. But the government chose to deny any such test, and in fact, they went out of their way to claim immediately that no foreign test occurred in the area as well. What does that tell us? It tells us that the missile was definitely a foreign test. There’s no way for us to tell, of course, which foreign government was responsible for such a test, but given the fact that we were engaged in a show of naval force at the time in the South China Sea which was provoking actual verbal threats from China, I’d say it’s not that hard to figure out that China was the culprit, and the message was meant for the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Navy. Given the immediate White House response to cover up the event, I’d say the message was received and understood. The only question that remains, for me: why are the American people so willing to go along with the charade? And how many other lies about real threats against our security are we willing to believe? With the escalating situation in the Middle East, I believe we will be tested on that question very soon.