1/12/1999: The American Reporter (William Thomas)
"Jet Contrails Mystify, Sicken Americans"
Contrails spread by fleets of jet aircraft in elaborate cross-hatched patterns are sparking speculation and making people sick across the United States.
Washington state resident William Wallace became ill with severe diarrhea and fatigue after watching several multi-engine jets spend New Year's day laying cloud lines in an east to west grid pattern. A neighbor working outside came down with similar symptoms. But their wives, who remained indoors, suffered no ill effects from the inexplicable maneuvers which observers liken to high-altitude "crop-dusting" by unidentifed multi-engine aircraft.
Condensation trails, called contrails, are generated at altitudes high enough for water droplets to freeze in a matter of seconds and not quickly evaporate -- typically where the temperatures are below -38 degrees Celcius.
Contrails can form through the addition of water vapor to the air from the jet engine exhaust. Even tiny nuclei released in the exhaust fumes may be sufficient to generate ice crystals, and hence, condensation trails.
Wallace wonders if ethylene dibromide, a highly toxic component of JP-8 jet fuel, is making people sick. Similar incidents over Las Vegas last year prompted a US Air Force spokesman to explain that the military aircraft were "dumping fuel" before landing.
But the strange spray patterns are being reported repeatedly over towns in Tennessee, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Washington state and California.
Wallace has been watching formations of high-flying jets weave grid-like contrails above his home since last summer. Each time, "We get a taste in our mouth," he reports. He and his wife Ann get "kind of tired and sick," having "no energy to do anything."
After plants began dying around his mountain cabin, "I got real sick for about three weeks," Wallace relates. "My eyes watered. Fluid came out of my nose. I could hardly move my arm up above my head to comb my hair for about a week." [full article]
1/31/1999: The Daily Telegraph London (Paul Sieveking)
"Strange But True: Are US planes sowing the sky with poison? Toxic Trails."
We are all familiar with those long white condensation trails (or contrails) made across the sky by high-altitude jets. Few of us feel threatened by them. However, some people have been strangely stricken after watching aerial displays in remote parts of America. Since last summer, William Wallace has been watching jets making contrails in grid patterns over the state of Washington. The aircraft look as if they are carrying out high-altitude crop dusting. Each time, he says, he and his wife Ann have got a strange taste in their mouths and runny noses, and have been overcome by lassitude. Mr Wallace wonders if this is caused by ethylene dibromide, a toxic component of JP-8 aviation fuel. [excerpt]
11/22/1999: Aspen Daily News (Rick Carroll)
"Something in the Air"
If Dave Peterson feels like it's him against the world, that's because it is.
As sure as the sky is blue, Peterson believes the government is littering it with pathogens via unmarked aircraft. He refers to the pollution as "chemtrails," and his doubters liken his cause to that of the fanatics who believe UFOs fly the skies and Bigfoot lives. But the carpenter who lives in Aspen is convinced something is up, and welcomes skeptics to the chemtrail debate.
"I'm not concerned what people think of me," Peterson says. "In fact all I want to know is the truth. I've been affected with this stuff and to be quite frank, I'm pissed."
Under cloudy skies Saturday, Peterson and four others gathered in front of Aspen-Pitkin County Airport to participate in National Chemtrail Day of Protest. The protest marked the latest in Peterson's efforts to protest chemtrails. In August, Peterson lured noted Canadian journalist and chemtrails "expert" William Thomas to Aspen to speak. Thomas' lecture, which commanded a ticket price of $15 and drew close to 80 people, was preceded by a July visit Peterson made to the Aspen City Council with the hopes of fetching some government money to pay for the event. He was denied.
Thomas, who "broke" the story about chemtrails, and Peterson argue that chemtrails hang in the sky for hours -- unlike contrails, which form above 33,000 feet from swirling ice crystals that quickly dissipate. The chemtrails can be seen in the form of criss-cross or parallel patterns.
Peterson said his interest in chemtrails was sparked when he became ill earlier this year. Then Peterson surfed the Internet and learned about chemtrails and its greatest voice, Thomas. Peterson now believes his sore throat and flu-like symptoms were a result of his exposure to chemtrails.
There are three theories which are most often mentioned to explain the chemtrails phenomenon. One is population culling; other believe a kind of inoculation -- like a mass vaccination -- is being carried out. The final theory points to the government performing weather experiments. Whatever the explanation, chemtrail believers theorize the government is involved in a massive cover-up.
Hence, a debate is born.
"There's a better chance of SkiCo opening this weekend than chemtrails," said Darryl Dellarossa. Dellarossa is an air traffic controller at Sardy Field, but wanted to make it clear his opinion is not that of the Federal Aviation Administration. He says people who believe in chemtrails should do more research instead of drumming up a glossy conspiracy theory.
"There is a lot of aircraft crossing at high altitude in the vicinity of Aspen," he said. "The lines they see there are nothing more than condensation trails from high-flying aircraft. When they come over they make those ice crystals and it takes some time to dissipate.
"And why would you do it in broad daylight? Wouldn't you expect them to do it at night time, if it's a big secret?"
According to a spokeswoman with the Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research, there is nothing unusual about a contrail lingering in the sky for an hour or so. "It just depends on the stability of the air," said Anatta, a single-named spokeswoman for NECAR.
"Normal commercial aircraft give off two things that come out as a contrail," she said. "One is the water vapor as we see from here and the other is the particles that are part of emission. The water vapor forms a cloud and the particles can act as cloud condensation nuclei, meaning they attract water. This combination can turn into a long cloud, and that happens a lot."
While Peterson is unable to prove chemtrails exist from a scientific standpoint, he's working to change that. He and Thomas will tour the Aspen skies so they can sample the air, he said.
"They (chemtrail skeptics) have a valid point from a scientific point of view," Peterson said. "But I work outdoors and you can watch them shape into these distinguishing features. It doesn't expand out like ice crystals and has a spiny look to it -- like a backbone."
Aspen resident Dudley Cates is a believer as well. The taxi driver believes he saw something in the skies two Sundays ago that was far from ordinary -- and now he wants to know more. "I was looking at Ajax from Park Avenue, and saw some sort of uniformly white cloud that was high enough that the sun was shining though it," he said. "It was being created by a plane, and the jet was flying from right to left, from the top of Ajax back over Smuggler and flying through a tunnel in the clouds. It was the oddest thing I've ever seen. "Something in the nose of the jet was throwing out some force field that was liquidating the clouds."
Another local, Mark Rolfes, said the most important thing to him about chemtrails is knowing why they are there, if they are indeed chemtrails. "I'm not going into alarm," he said. "I would like to get more information and if there's an FAA person that is saying nothing, why are you attacking me and why am I stupid? Give me the hardcore facts. Then if they convince me about the situation there's not a problem."
4/14/2000: The Santa Fe New Mexican (Steve Terrell)
"'Chemtrails' joke has some activists steamed"
Some people who believe that our own government is spraying harmful chemicals from aircraft are steamed at an April Fool's prank, played by a state skeptics group, that mocked the phenomenon known as "chemtrails." Since early last year dozens of Santa Fe area residents have insisted that some of the white lines in the sky, which most people identify as jet contrails, are actually clouds of chemicals, which believers call "chemtrails." [excerpt]
4/14/2000 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Steve Terrell)
"'Chemtrail' web site posts letter from Udall"
A Santa Fe Web site on "chemtrails" says that U.S. Rep. Tom Udall asked a Congressional committee to hold hearings on chemtrails -- and at first glance at a letter from Udall that appears to be true. A March 13 letter Udall wrote to a constituent last month posted on the Clifford Carnicom Web site, says, "I have forwarded a request to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to hold oversight hearings on this matter." [excerpt]
4/14/2000 The Ashville Tribune (Dana Davis)
"New "Air Quality" Threat Seen "
"Not a cloud in the sky." When is the last time you can remember repeating that phrase?
For many of us living in the continental United States, a truly clear sky has become a thing of the past. Is this due to the industrialized society that our nation has become?
Yes, in part, but what about Montana, Idaho, and Western North Carolina for that matter? What about the quiet neighborhoods and otherwise undisturbed wildlife throughout the United States whose skies are being tainted with clouds which cannot be defined by any meteorologist?
The answer is contrails. Contrails are the white/silver cloud-like exhaust from airplanes that are visible from the ground. Normal contrails from commercial planes dissipate and vanish into air. That's nothing new.
What is new is the abnormally thick contrails appearing with great frequency as of late from non-commercial planes. These planes are obviously not commercial jets because they fly together in tight formations too close to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. And they often fly in grid patterns and mark X,s in the sky with the contrails they leave behind. The contrails these suspicious planes produce do not immediately dissipate. Instead, they linger across the sky and, after several hours, spread out into what appears to be cloud coverage hovering over us in the sky throughout the day.
If you have not noticed them, it is probably because you thought you were seeing clouds, but quite often, on what would be an otherwise clear day, contrails create a partly cloudy atmosphere. And when there are already clouds in the sky, contrails simply blend in with the atmosphere, making them even less detectable.
However, quite a few weary observers have taken notice of the suspicious contrails zigzagging and eventually blanketing the sky. In fact, several websites have formed that are devoted to the research of this bizarre and mysterious trend which has become somewhat of a fixture throughout the U.S. As a result, some unconfirmed theories have come forth which could help to shed some light on the matter. An influx of respiratory illnesses have been reported in areas of heavy contrail activity. Meningitis outbreaks have occurred in several states recently -- North Carolina being one of them. Some who believe they have fallen ill as a direct result of the contrails say the ailments they suffer from are not unlike symptoms of some types of biological warfare. [full article]
6/27/1999: Florida Today (Billy Cox)
"Following the Trail of a Chemical Conspiracy, Jittery Citizens eye plane exhaust with suspicion"
When John Blanke sees the "chemtrails" seeping across the Melbourne sky overhead, maybe he'll wear a face mask. Or, maybe he'll hop in his car and split. Maybe he'll drive around for a couple of hours, somewhere upwind, for however long it takes for the vapor tracks above his home to clear. Why roll the dice with your health if you don't have to? [excerpt]
9/12/1999: The Spokesman Review (Zaz Hollander)
"Conspiracy Theories Tail Miltary's Jet Contrails Despite Government Denials, Some Say Plumes Affecting Health"
Meg Anderson is a cloud watcher. But the Plummer woman doesn't daydream when she eyes the sky. She sees real threats. Plumes called "contrails" - short for condensation trails - crisscrossed the skies over North Idaho and Eastern Washington on many days this summer. Anderson and some others claim they caused flulike symptoms and worse. Most officials dismiss the claims as ludicrous, but a growing number of people in the Inland Northwest -- and elsewhere in the world -- say the aircraft vapor trails make them sick.
A worldwide network of people connected by the Internet insist the trails come from military planes on covert sorties. The truth is up there, depending on which of a growing number of Internet sites you dial up, or what night you tune in to nighttime talk radio's conspiracy king, Art Bell. If these sources are to be believed, the mysterious symptoms stem from a government plot to use innocent people as guinea pigs for the weapons of biological warfare. Or cloud seeding experiments. Or a plot by the Pentagon to move storm systems around.
On one particularly "heavy spray day" over Plummer in June, Anderson says, she watched particulate matter fall out of the clouds, "like the black stuff from a diesel truck stopped at an intersection. I experienced a numb mouth and burning sinuses -- in an area that is generally pollution free."
Military and most government officials scoff at the contrail conspiracy theory. "The Air Force doesn't do anything that emits anything other than a normal contrail, which is vapor," said Margaret Gidding, a U.S. Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon.
Most people have seen the puffy white contrails from commercial jets, frozen water particles released by combustion into the frigid climes of the upper atmosphere. The trails disappear quickly. But the contrails in question -- or "chemtrails" as some call them -- are said to be much wider than usual and stick around for hours, filling the sky with tic-tac-toe patterns.
"With a mystery like this, the speculation goes from the mundane to the X-Files," says a Spokane attorney who wanted to remain anonymous. "Whatever it is, nobody's admitting to what they're doing."
Contrail watchdogs use Oakville, Wash., as a poster child. As chronicled by "Unsolved Mysteries," in 1994 a rain of gelatinous goo fell from the sky onto the small town. Tests revealed a combination of white blood cells, two strains of bacteria and bits of coral reef, according to a transcript of the television show. Most of the theories link contrails to military planes, often white, unmarked planes flying below the 18,000-foot altitude where the vapor trails normally start forming.
This year, Air Force headquarters started getting monthly calls on the issue, many of them from Washington state, Gidding said. She thinks the sudden interest stems from publicity on the Internet. "It's challenging because I empathize with people when they're ill and looking for the cause," she says. "But the Air Force is just not what's causing it."
Government cover-ups aren't always the stuff of "Unsolved Mysteries" and Internet chat -- no secret to folks raised in the shadow of once-secret radiation releases at Hanford. A 1994 Senate report commissioned by the Committee on Veterans' Affairs chaired by Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., found that the defense department intentionally exposed military personnel to potentially dangerous substances, often in secret.
And air traffic can be heavy over this region, with planes flying in and out of Spokane International Airport and Fairchild Air Force Base.
A Fairchild spokesman, however, said most calls about contrails end up not involving Air Force planes.
Forecasters say contrails are a meteorological phenomenon caused when water from jet engine exhaust freezes fast without evaporating, typically below -38 degrees Celsius. Most contrails break up quickly, but sometimes upper level winds can spread the trails apart, forming a large sheet cloud that lingers, according to a Web site operated by the Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
"As far as proving any conspiracy, we're not in that business," says Todd Carter, a Spokane-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "It is an explainable phenomenon."
But people who associate health problems with the trails describe strange X-shaped clouds -- said to aid satellite location of spraying operations -- and checkerboards not produced by commercial jets on parallel flight patterns.
A Kootenai County resident who gave his name as "George" on a popular contrails Web site in June reported similar black particles as Meg Anderson. "By the time it was dark, my nose lining was burning and my mouth was numb," he says. "I had a sore throat at bedtime and next morning sore glands in my neck and fatigue."
Dr. Leonard Horowitz, an anti-immunization crusader who lives in Sandpoint, suspects chemtrails in a nationwide outbreak of upper respiratory infections last winter that didn't respond to antibiotic treatment. A colleague, Joseph Puleo, treats contrail-related illnesses with an antifungal regimen including cayenne pepper and herbs. But "it's virtually impossible to link it definitively," Horowitz acknowledges.
Health officials in Idaho and Washington say they've received no reports from concerned citizens of contrail-linked illnesses. "We're hooked up to Hanford to see if anything happens there," says Renee Guillierie, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Health. "That's about as weird as we get." An official with the Washington Emergency Management Division, however, says he can't dismiss the claims because -- real or imagined -- people's perceptions influence their world. "I think it's a mistake to say it doesn't mean a thing," says Rob Harper, division spokesman. "Unfortunately, I don't have an instant answer. We're not seeing the kind of data coming back confirming the kind of health problems they're describing."