Jet trail has mid-valley looking up, imaginations soaring
A misguided passenger airliner?
A military jet on maneuvers?
A visitor from another planet who decided not to stick around?
An interesting jet contrail over Corvallis Thursday afternoon had some Mid-Valley folks scratching their heads. Contrails over the area are a daily event, since it’s a busy flyway for aircraft into and out of Portland International Airport.
But Thursday’s contrail was unusual. It was a long conical shape, open on one side with a point at one end and a loop-the-loop at one end that looked like an O within an oval. Depending on who you asked, it looked like a teenager was out for a joyride in his father’s car and couldn’t resist cutting a cookie high in the air, not on the asphalt.
“If there was a solid mass creating it, we would be able to see it, but there’s nothing on our radar. Everything we see is going in a straight path,” said Mike Fergus, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration office in Renton, Wash. “This is purely a guess on my part, but it could be connected with some type of military operation that created it in their fly area. Because it’s up so high, may have moved it and it kept it’s basic shape.”
Fergus added, “how realistic that is, I don’t know.”
Fergus said he’s seen stranger things happen during his years with the FAA and the U.S. Air Force.
“I’ve seen a contrail in the shape of a ‘U’ before,” Fergus said. “It was like someone made a U-turn, but it wasn’t a closed loop.”
A Polk County employee’s sighting may back up Fergus’ suggestion. She sent the following note to the Gazette-Times about 4:45 p.m Thursday: “We watched the plane make the design in the sky earlier this afternoon from our office windows that face west from the Polk County Courthouse. It is neat that it drifted so far and looked pretty much the same as when it started.”
But another viewer noted, “I got a shot of this unusual trail also. I’m an aircraft mechanic and that does not seem like a condensation trail to me.”
A contrail is a condensation trail left behind jet airplanes. They form when hot air form the jet’s exhaust systems mixes with cool, low vapor air. A cloud-like shape is formed. The duration of a control can be affected by how much water vapor is in the air. The more water vapor the longer the control can last.