Share | Email a Friend

Contrails or Chemtrails?

La Jicarita
Published Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It all began in Taos, New Mexico, where my husband and I lived and where for months I had been noticing jets in the blue sky over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains leaving long trails of white exhaust behind them. I had never before seen a commercial or military jet spew out that much “smoke,” exhaust that lingered so long or that ran parallel to and crisscrossed other white trails in the sky. I wanted to find out what was going on. 

Googling “jet exhaust,” I learned that the humid hot air emitted by jets turns into water vapor and then ice crystals at higher cold altitudes that comprise the contrail—short for condensation trail. Googling contrails at that time took me to “chemtrails,” the contrails composed of chemicals that some people contend are being purposively released by the jets. 

Chemtrails brought me to the full-length documentary entitled, “What in the World Are They Spraying?” ( In the documentary I learned about hearings the US House of Representatives held in 2009 and 2010 that investigated whether global warming could be mitigated. Obtaining transcripts of the hearings on the Internet, I learned that scientists familiar with geoengineering appeared before the Committee on Science and Technology. Geoengineering is defined in the hearings’ charter as the “deliberate large-scale modification of the earth’s climate systems for the purposes of counteracting climate change.”

Using the 1991 eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines as a model—its spewing a large amount of tiny sulfur particles into the stratosphere cooled the earth’s temperature by one degree for about a year—geoengineers like David Keith suggested imitating the result by injecting sulfur aerosols into the air to shade the planet from the sun. 

Keith, the Dr. Strangelove of geoengineering, now teaching at Harvard and accepting funding from Bill Gates, has written a book, The Case for Climate Engineering, about his support of the sulfur-in-space solution. But what goes up must come down. Surely, as a scientist, Keith would be aware of the detrimental effects of acid rain on flora, fauna, and the oceans. 

For my op-ed piece "Who Owns the Sky?" that appeared in the Taos News (9/2012), I emailed Keith about reports in both the Guardian and the New York Times of plans for him and James G. Anderson, an atmospheric chemist, to conduct an experiment spraying sulphates from a NASA balloon 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner in New Mexico.

Keith replied, "We are in the vey early stages of planning an experiment and have yet to choose a location or submit a proposal." As of this writing, there does not seem to be any report that such an experiment actually took place. (For more background and what the Koch brothers unexpectedly discovered about climate change, see La Jicarita co-editor David Correia's article at

For solar radiation management (SRM), scientists at the hearings made other suggestions such as injecting aluminum particles into the sky to reflect back the light from the sun. But wouldn’t aluminum fall back down to earth, too?  

Alan Robock, a professor of climatology and meteorology at Rutgers University and a recipient of a National Science Foundation grant to model simulations of the effects of geoengineering, said at the hearing that the consequences of such weather modification could be disastrous. 

Included among the risks Robock listed was weakening the summer monsoons in Asia and Africa, which actually happened after Mt. Pinatubo erupted and threatened the food and water supply for two billion people. Also on his list of risks was reducing sunlight needed for solar power and the possible loss of blue sky. 

The committee’s summary report concluded that experiments on our weather must be done in the laboratory and not in our common skies where they could effect unintended consequences and irreversible damage. 

On Thursday, April 4, 2012, the sky over Taos started out its usual azure blue, when standing in our courtyard I observed what looked like military jets crisscrossing the sky high above the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Their exhaust left a tic-tac-toe-like grid in the sky whose lines began to spread out and coalesce. If the planes were part of a military exercise, they exceeded the boundary of what I later learned was the Mt. Dora Military Operations Area (MOA) on the other side of the mountains. When they were through, their contrails had blended into each other, the blue above had paled, and there was a milky haze over the mountains. I observed the jets returning around 5 p.m. seemingly to give the sky a second coat.  

The next morning, Friday, the long, white contrails that stretched across the west over the valley behind our house spread like a line of watercolor put down on wet paper and eventually became haze. By early evening, as we headed into town in the car, the haze in the western sky up to Tres Orejas Mountain looked dirty. Two jets dove through it, and as their contrails crossed, marked the spot with a big white X. 

The finale early Saturday morning seemed like the last event in a fireworks display. Maybe four to six jets spewed contrails over Taos Mountain and Taos Ski Valley and towards San Cristobal. The jets had in effect encircled Taos in a grey mist high above us thick enough to dim the sun by day and obscure the stars and veil the full moon by night. 

I emailed a man at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in New Mexico who had previously helped me answer questions about the state’s military airspace for another article I had written. When I made the mistake of calling the contrails I had observed “chemtrails,” he referred me to the Wikipedia page on “Chemtrail Conspiracy Theory” ( Here’s how he answered my questions about what I had observed: “Our data showed nothing unusual beyond the normal high-altitude traffic that traverses the skies over North Central New Mexico on any given day.”  

As a writer, I hadn’t thought to photograph what I was seeing. But I did think about getting a sample of snow from the mountain, which the planes had flown over. Jim O'Donnell, an outdoorsman/photographer/writer friend, made the climb for me to Williams Lake over 11,000 feet up to obtain snow samples, which I had analyzed at a lab in Albuquerque. Snowpack is an important source of water in the region. The presence of aluminum in the sample of snow that fell from the sky was three times the EPA recommended standard in drinking water. 

I learned from Rosalind Peterson, founder of the Agriculture Defense Coalition and California Skywatch that the FAA keeps records of every flight in American airspace. The FAA can print out flight maps graphically depicting flights with colored lines over maps of the area they traverse and indicating by color whether the flight is commercial or military. As a crop loss adjustor for the US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, Peterson obtained copies of one twenty-four-hour period of flight maps for her region through her US congressman and sent me a copy of one as a sample. 

My Congressman Ben Ray Luhan wrote a letter on my behalf to the Public Affairs officer at the FAA in Washington for me to obtain two color-coded FAA flight maps, one for Saturday, April 7, 2012, showing the air traffic over north central New Mexico that I had observed, and one, for comparison, showing the same area for Saturday, April 21, 2012. If there were a difference in the air traffic on those two dates, it would show up in a comparison of the two maps.

Congressman Luhan’s office forwarded my request to the FAA’s office for Public Affairs, and its Deputy Assistant Administrator wrote Luhan’s office back that she would be glad to speak to me to clarify my request. 

When I followed up with a phone call to the deputy in Public Affairs, she said my request “sounded complicated and difficult, if not too expensive to fulfill.” Not even knowing what she meant by “expensive,” I offered to pay for the maps and, thanks to Peterson, sent her a copy of the kind of map I was requesting. When I followed up on the phone, she suggested I contact the people the FAA outsources for map-making—ATAC. 

When I called the ATAC Corporation, the director of business development who took my call suggested I get in touch with Public Affairs at the FAA. When I told him that Public Affairs had sent me to him, he said he would forward my written request for the maps to the FAA’s Program Manager of the PDARS program (Performance Data Analysis and Reporting System). 

After a week went by, I emailed the man who forwarded my letter, saying I had not heard from the Program Manager and inquired into the possibility of my contacting him directly. This was his reply: “Unfortunately, FAA’s Public Affairs office has determined that they do not want this information to be released.” 

Emailing him back, I asked, “Is the information classified?” He replied, “I’m not certain. Sorry.”

Just to be sure I had done everything I could, the people at Not 1 More Acre!, the nonprofit protecting southeast Colorado and northern New Mexico from military expansion, helped me navigate the Freedom of Information Act route; but my FOIA request was never answered. Perhaps I should have gone back to Congressman Lujan to have him personally request the map. He had been on the Science and Technology committee that had heard the geoengineers testimony and agreed they should confine their explorations to the lab. 

If seven officers with ranks from Major to Colonel in 1996 could present to the Air Force a research paper entitled “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025” ( and if DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is considering implanting moths with computer chips while in the cocoon so that they can be controlled to fly into a room to video-spy, it’s not unrealistic to be suspicious.

For family reasons, we have since moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. A friend from Taos emailed me a link to a YouTube site where I saw a talk by Sergeant Kristen Meghan, who worked at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia as an industrial hygienist. Her duties were to protect personnel from carcinogenic materials and from radiation under OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines. 

One day, Meghan says, she came across canisters of chemicals that were supposed to be loaded onto planes to disperse their contents. How could she approve the safety of their contents when they were unmarked? When she asked her superior officer why the canisters were not marked, he told her she looked tired and should take time off.  When she persisted with questions, he suggested she might need a psychological evaluation. 

Considering herself a whistleblower, Meghan says that when she asked a worker who loaded the canisters on planes why he didn’t speak up, he said he had a family to support and could not afford to lose his job. 

Monday, October 20, 2014, 7:50 a.m., fence on Pine Grove Road looking east over Wilmington Municipal Golf Course (Wilmington, NC). Note lines of contrails near horizon. Monday, October 20, 2014, 8:40 a.m., beside Fresh Market on International Drive looking east across Military Cutoff Road. Note how lines of contrails have spread out and blended together.


Since I now pack an iPhone, I was prepared to take the above pictures of the contrails I saw in Wilmington. I telephoned both the FAA national weather service in Wilmington and the FAA control tower at ILM International Airport. When I asked each man who answered if there had been military exercises in the skies that morning, they both pleasantly assured me with identical answers: No, what I had seen was regular early morning north-south commercial air traffic over coastal waters. 

To each FAA man I remarked that I have witnessed a commercial airliner and a smaller military jet in the same patch of sky both spewing contrails and observed that their exhausts were strikingly different: The contrail of the commercial plane appeared short with its tail rapidly evaporating, while the contrails of the smaller jet persisted and spread out. Both men explained that the planes would have been at different altitudes and temperatures.

Two days after I had taken the photos, I returned to the same spot at the same time, 7:50 a.m., and again looked east across Wilmington Municipal Golf Club: In the cloudless blue sky there was not one streak of contrail. Not one. Change of temperature? Wind? Cancellation of regular flights? Sometimes a contrail is just a contrail. I’m not making claims on what comprises them. I just want to know the truth.

Have rogue scientists, military people, or billionaire entrepreneurs or a combination of all three abandoned the lab and computer simulation to experiment with live weather control? Are they using our tax dollars to modify the weather right over our heads without knowing the consequences to our health or that of our planet?

Having observed in Taos military-size jets with their contrails turn a deep blue sky milky pale and be told that what I saw was “normal” is crazy-making. Secrecy about what is going on does nothing but foster suspicion. Secrecy is not only the enemy of democracy: It’s not exaggerated to say secrecy may be the enemy of our survival.


Readers are free to print out articles or letters for personal use and to quote or paraphrase them in other work as long as fair use of the material is given proper credit. See the Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide at for forms of attribution.