Pentagon, NASA experts say mystery plume was plane

NASA experts agree with the Pentagon that an airliner likely caused a billowing contrail off Southern California that resembled a missile plume illuminated by the setting sun.

Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Wednesday that officials are satisfied the Monday evening phenomenon was an airplane contrail distorted by camera angle, winds and other environmental factors.

The conclusion is supported by Al Bowers, associate director of research at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in the Mojave Desert, and scientist Patrick Minnis of NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia.

Minnis examined satellite images of a horizontal contrail recorded at the time of the sighting and concludes it came from an airplane.

© 2010 The Associated Press.

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