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Mystery Missile Launches Off West Coast

By Wyatt Earp | November 9, 2010

There’s nothing scarier than seeing a missile launch off the California coast that no one seems to want to take credit for. Is it American, is it foreign, what?

A mysterious missile launch off the southern California coast was caught on video Monday evening by a KCBS news helicopter. The spectacular contrail could easily be seen up in Los Angeles, but who launched this missile and why, remain a mystery for now.

The location of the missile was described as west of Los Angeles, north of Catalina Island, and approximately 35 miles out to sea.

A Navy spokesperson tells News 8, this wasn’t its missile. He said there was no Navy activity reported in that part of the region. On Friday, November 5, Vandenberg Air Force Base launched a Delta II rocket, carrying the Thales Alenia Space-Italia COSMO SkyMed satellite, but a sergeant at the base tells News 8, there have been no launches since then.

Okay, is anyone else unsettled that no one – including the military – seems to know anything about this?

UPDATE: NORTHCOM is saying that it was a jet contrail. Anyone buying that?

2ND UPDATE: My good friend, and navy vet Old NFO is saying it is in fact a jet contrail. He’s our resident expert in all things aviation, and I trust his judgment. It is now okay to exit your bomb shelters, kids.

Topics: WTF? | 39 Comments »

39 Responses to “Mystery Missile Launches Off West Coast”

  1. Ferrell Gummitt Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Who cares about some dumb unknown sourced Missile Launching when you have these stories from

    Lindsay Lohan’s next step to Recovery – More Booze, More Bong.

    Brett Michaels Didn’t Hook up with Miley’s Mom – He had a crush on Billy Ray since the Achy Breaky Heart Days.

    Oksana: Mel had a Cheatin’ Heart while he was with me.

    Geez, stop telling us about this depressing stuff. Let’s text and talk about Lady Gaga.

  2. dragonlady474 Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Well I am! WTH?? Geez, glad I don’t live in California.

  3. John D Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    …a missile launch off the California coast that no one seems to want to take credit for.

    Not even Steve Urkel, who was quoted as saying “Did I do that?”

    I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. The terrorists are all too busy listening to President Obama’s latest apology tour to launch a missile.

  4. Rick Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I think it could be a Chi-Com missile.

  5. The Chick Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    You start talking about Lady GaGa and I’m outta here faster than you can say “meat dress”

  6. The Chick Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Duh, I forgot my commment – maybe it was Arnold proving he is still masculine enough to play with missiles, that or Predator has returned.

  7. Dr. Evil Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    This is rather unsettling…however I got it ALL figured out.

    With yesterday’s theorum of the Borg Collective rapidly approaching Earth atmosphere the United Federation of Planets called a general distress.

    In an uncharacteristically good deed, the Romulan Star Empire answered said, fearing instability in the Alpha Quadrant should the Federation fall. The missile was OBVIOUSLY launched from a cloaked Warbird within Earth’s atmosphere!

    While I applaud the Romulans for helping us in our time of need, I must say I am concerned about Romluan military actions occuring in our own backyard.

    Now that i have fulfilled my geek status for the next week, I shall end transmission. ‘If knowledge is power than to be unknown is to be unstoppable’ -Romulan saying.

    Oh…and yes Wyatt, I LOVE Starscream!

  8. Randal Graves Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    It’s “Balloon Boy’s” dad at it again.

  9. Sebastian Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I’m putting my money on Chinese missile, or someone built a really cool LDRS.

  10. Jon Brooks Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Okay…I’ll take credit for it. Interviews from major news networks will start at $100K and I want O’Reilly dang it!

    Seriously, I hope that there is no large crater where someones house or city used to be :(

  11. Ferrell Gummitt Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Dr. Evil: LMAO. Thanks.

  12. Veeshir Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Talk about threatening Fail!

    As if the rest of America would really care right about now if somebody attacked California.

    Let Senator Ma’am and Governor Moonbeam handle it and leave the rest of us alone.

  13. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Ferrell – Maybe Lady Gaga has a missile cruiser she never told us about?

    DL474 – Maybe Nancy Pelosi is testing her “Conservative Assault Weapons?”

    John D – Then can we assume it was U.S. ineptitude? Where was Matthew Broderick’s computer during all of this?

    Rick – Going outbound? I know San Francisco’s Chinatown is rough, but . . .

    Chick – Maybe Arnold launched a missile at Lady Gaga?

    Dr. Evil – Wow, and people think I’m a geek!

    Randal – That rat bastard!

    Sebastian – Coming soon to Discovery Channel: Backyard MIRV.

    Jon – Unless that home belongs to Al Davis. Sorry, but I despise the Raiders.

    Veeshir – It’ll be great when she is asking the ChiComs to call her “Senator Prisoner.”

  14. Vince Lyons Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I suspect Bond, James Bond…
    Knows what is going on.
    Obviously SPECTRE is holding the world hostage right now pending big transfers into Swiss bank accounts.

    No big deal

  15. RT Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Randal made me giggle.

    Isn’t it nice to know that no one has any answers (that we know of)?

  16. Fenway_Nation Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Maybe it’s some sort of promotional stunt for

  17. Dr. Evil Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Welcome Ferrell

  18. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Vince – Daniel Craig James Bond, or Timothy Dalton James Bond? Big difference in my trust level there.

    RT – Not yet, anyway.

    Fenway – Looks decent, but not an actor I ever heard of in that film.

  19. Vince Lyons Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Considering Sean Connery is probably main-lineing Geritol these days instead of of sipping shaken not stired elixers… I would choose Pierce Brosnan.

    I just haven’t been able to trust these other upstarts with the safety of the free world.

  20. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Vince – No one touches Sean Connery, but I like Daniel Craig. As for Pierce, one of my favorite Bond films is GoldenEye. Quality stuff.

  21. C/A Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    How unacceptable is it that:
    A- our own military is unable to provide a credible explanation for this.
    B- That it is possible that some persons / country unknown was able to launch a missile 35 miles off the coast of he continental US and apparently get away with it.
    C- The launch was not picked up by NORAD and reacted to immediately.
    D- The White House hasn’t issued a statement on this. Are we at DEFCON 2 or what?
    E- Vice President Biden hasn’t been seen or heard from in days. Who is in CHARGE while Bam is in Indonesia?
    F- Our OWN military accidentially let one loose and no one knows who did it or if they do they ain’t saying…

    In any event adult supervision is sorely needed in Washington.

  22. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Captain – All jokes aside, every one of those points is valid. Someone from the White House needs to be addressing this, like yesterday!

  23. Vince Lyons Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Hey, what a coincidence…
    Dr. Strangelove is on TCM tonight. Perhaps some rogue General is trying to protect our precious bodily fluids… from flouridation of course.

  24. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Vince – Rogue generals. They’re my favorite kind.

  25. Smite A. Hippie Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    and where did it go? surely we can track that…

  26. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Smite – Get this: They’re saying it was a jet contrail now. Seriously.

  27. Old NFO Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    It’s probably a 747 or 777 departing from LAX for either Japan, Korea or China… You can clearly see the twin vortices in the picture… They were probably climbing through FL 270 going up to FL 320 or so and the contrails started; and the climb angle gave a good glare angle for the sun so that it looks like it’s on ‘fire’…

  28. C/A Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Wasn’t this the plot of Crimson Tide? Anyone see Gene Hackmen lately?

  29. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Old NFO – I’m convinced. You’re my resident expert on the subject. Thanks much. (Although it really looks like a missile launch to the untrained eye.)

    Captain – Great film.

  30. bob (either orr) Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    It was just presidential flatulence.

  31. Sebastian Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    I’m willing to believe contrail as well. The appearance of what looked like fire made me think not… but the sun probably does do funny things at that angle.

    Plus, NORAD like, tracks every square inch of airspace and in orbit around earth. They would have noticed a launch, I would think. Even if it was a large amateur rocket, they should have been able to tell.

  32. Wes S. Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Sebastian: NORAD damned well better be able to notice an actual launch, especially one from within US waters!

    Old NFO: Thanks for the reassurance. Because that looked way too much like a “One Second After”-type scenario for my peace of mind…

  33. Randal Graves Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Looks like some people need a new “Jump to Conclusions” mat.

  34. Vince Lyons Says:
    November 9th, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Yes, it does appear to be a conventional contrail. Wing tip vortices and winds aloft can do some amazing things with a contrail and the fact that the image is two dimensional makes it impossible to determine if the wide dispersed ‘plume’ is from a nearby launch or from a distant approach from the horizon.

    The ‘orange’ glow that the know-it-all pundits imagine to be the glow of a rocket engine could be nothing more than the sunset glistening off the fuselage of an airliner.

    Any other details visable in the video may just be from a passenger flushing the toilet.

  35. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 10th, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Bob – I don’t remember this during Clinton’s term. And find me a more gassy Chief Executive than him.

    Sebastian – One would hope so, but you never know when some computer geek takes an unwarranted bathroom break.

    Wes S. – Maybe someone fired the GoldenEye?

    Randal – It’s like the pet rock. The guy made a million dollars!

    Vince – We need the eyeglasses from Me, Myself and Irene.

  36. Ingineer66 Says:
    November 10th, 2010 at 5:23 am

    Well I guess the good news is, is that it is pointed towards the ocean and not the mainland. I will defer to the experts here that say it is just a jet. But watching the video, it sure looked like it was too steep of a climb for a jet, but it did seem to be moving slower than a missile. But all of those things are based on the angle of the camera. So maybe it all is just an optical illusion. But with 12 news choppers over LA every day and thousands of planes leaving LAX, why is this such a surprise or rarity if it is just a plane?

  37. Wyatt Earp Says:
    November 10th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Ingineer66 – A day later and the Pentagon still has no idea. That’s reassuring.

  38. Ingineer66 Says:
    November 10th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Good to know they are asleep at the switch. Kind of like 9/11 when we only had 12 fighters in the air to protect the entire country.

  39. Rob in Katy Says:
    November 10th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    That is a single engine booster of some sort. I have been watching contrails for almost 50 years, not sure why I am fascinated by them, but there is alway some distance / time before the multiple contrails merge into one. Never have I seen it that thick and heavy right out of the object and you can see the object, so this is not a contrail that has spread and merged, my thought is rocket… we are so screwed. Now all our enemies know that we are unable to detect a rocket, we are so, so screwed. but hey, let’s take time to bash Israel.