I-Team: Chemtrails open skies up to debate

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LAS VEGAS — Strange things in the sky are an everyday occurrence in Nevada. Right now, our skies are buzzing with aircraft flying in Red Flag exercises, and who knows what’s being tested up at Area 51.

But the object that recently appeared over a nearby town has people scratching their heads, wondering, what the heck was that?

The person who photographed the object contacted the I-Team.

It looks like a cloud, but it isn’t — a natural cloud — anyway.

It’s a white, fluffy formation that could have been emitted from the back of an aircraft, though not like any aircraft that’s been made public. So, what is it? And is it connected to all those other puffy lines we see in our skies?

“Just out here, about half-way across the pond,” said Malcolm Harris.

On a clear day in December, Alamo resident and amateur photographer Malcolm Harris stopped to capture images of ducks sitting in water just off highway 93. He spotted something else in the sky above the field.

“It was long, puffs of smoke,” Harris said. “It looked like a rope, kind of like there was a solid rope on top, then little puffs of smoke underneath it. I would say definitely it was manmade, it wasn’t anything natural.”

Harris, the son of a longtime Las Vegas newsman, ran some calculations based on his lens angle and estimates the odd cloud was about a mile distant and perhaps 500 yards long, but it was dense, like puffs of exhaust that had been crammed together.

“You could see the very beginning and the end and it was very clean and it stood by itself. There wasn’t anything else around it. I’ve seen clouds being made out here in the desert. All of a sudden you see a cloud being made, and that is not what was going on,” Harris said.

He didn’t hear anything, so whatever formed the cloud was quiet.

Alamo is buzzed almost daily by warplanes from nearby Nellis Air Base. Residents also know that on the other side of the mountains is the most famous “secret” base in the world — Area 51, which has been the place where the government tests the most advanced, other-worldly technology in its arsenal.

Harris’s photo is similar to exhaust patterns spotted a few times since the 90s, the so-called donuts on a rope, which set the aviation world on fire. Since the 80s, there’s been speculation about something called Project Aurora, a family of super secret delta shaped craft that may use a pulse-detonation engine, a system that could produce donuts on a rope exhaust patterns.

Bill Sweetman, one of the most respected aviation writers in the world, thinks Aurora is real. He uncovered what appears to be a paper trail in the black budget that funneled billions of dollars to Aurora or something like it. But what does Sweetman think about a photo showing the possible donuts on a rope?

After talking to defense industry colleagues, Sweetman suggested the cloud may have been created by using advanced pyrotechnics, in essence, flares that are used by fast jets as countermeasures, to confuse an enemy.

But another senior aviation writer and test pilot Bill Scott disagrees. Scott told the I-Team that flares don’t lay horizontally as this one does. He does not think it’s a contrail, more like a plume, but after asking around, Scott and the colleagues he consulted say they have no idea what made it. Best guess, is an unknown dispensary of some sort.

Harris is likewise skeptical that it was caused by flares.

“They don’t go in a straight line. You can definitely tell that was some kind of propulsion behind it,” he said.

Cloud-like formations, presumably contrails, are a hot topic online. An entire genre of conspiracy theories has evolved over the past decade or so. The so-called chemtrails. The Internet is filled with chemtrail sites which allege that the checkerboard patterns in the skies are part of a global plot to spray “something” into the atmosphere. Abovetopsecret.com gets up to 4 million visits per month and its 300,000 members have thoroughly digested the chemtrail story line.

“Chemtrails, contrails,” said Mark Allin, Abovetopsecret co-founder. “If you do a cursory look at the site, you will see there are thousands of pages of discussion dedicated to chemtrails/contrails.”

Millions of people are watching the skies to look for evidence of what they think is a global conspiracy, a massive spraying operation carried out by persons unknown for reasons that are not clear.

The I-Team first dug into this topic more than 12 years ago and and did find that an awful lot of stuff is really being sprayed up there in the sky. Global conspiracy? That’s not so clear.

There is no question the so-called chemtrail conspiracy has morphed into one of the largest and most enduringly dark tales of the Internet age. Millions of people are watching the skies and taking photos to try and figure out what is happening.

Is someone really spraying stuff into the atmosphere?

Some conspiracies, after all, turn out to be true and governments conspire to do bad things all the time.

There is no question that stuff is being sprayed into our skies for a lot of different reasons. But evidence of a global chemtrail conspiracy is weak. Just because lines can be seen in the skies doesn’t mean people below are being poisoned or climate is being manipulated.

Yet the Internet is filled with websites promoting the chemtrail controversy. Why such broad appeal?

The answer is as close as one’s front yard. The skies over Las Vegas are often criss-crossed with gigantic white lines that don’t immediately fade away. The contrails morph into clouds.

One thing is certain. There are more of these contrails than in past years.

When the I-Team first looked into the issue in the 1990s the suspicion was that the government was spraying poison, perhaps for population control. Residents of Pahrump blamed chemtrails for the poison that killed fish in a pond.

Others theorize that the public is being inoculated or that chemtrails represent a measure to combat global warming. The prevailing view is that the streaks in the sky represent human manipulation of the weather.

George Barnes, who produced “Look Up,” a new film about chemtrails, doesn’t blame them on anyone in particular. He said different groups are responsible for various reasons.

“The conclusion is, because it is unregulated, anybody could do it,” Barnes said. “So anybody that is interested in experimenting with climate engineering, weather modification, has the right and the authority to test it.

“There was no evidence of these grid type patterns in the sky prior to about 2006. I don’t know what happened but after 2006, we started seeing it more and more frequently.”

Contrails, though, have been around since the dawn of aviation. The word is short for condensation trails. Contrails appear when humidity and temperature reach certain points, most often in upper elevations. Old war films show them. There was even a contrail in the background of the 1960 movie “Spartacus,” which was set in ancient Rome.

Other contrails could be spotted over Las Vegas in the 1971 James Bond thriller “Diamonds Are Forever.” The I-Team also captured frequent checkerboard patterns in the 1990s. But why does it seem there are more contrails today?

“The reality is, there is 250 percent more air traffic today than 10 years ago and what happens is, a lot of people step outside and see these crisscross contrails in the sky,” Allin said. “To the average person, that would look pretty suspicious. You go online and start reading about chemtrails and you see pictures of what you just looked at, and that could freak you out.”

The consensus opinion among those who comment on Allin’s website is that chemtrails are bunk.

“To think that there could be a global conspiracy, a conspiracy of aircraft technicians, military aircraft, that are all keeping quiet about spreading chemicals up in our atmosphere, I’m sorry to say, but it’s crazy,” he said. “Think about it. Tens of thousands of people would have to know about it.”

If someone is poisoning the planet, where are the whistleblowers from within such a huge operation?

Worse still are rampant fabrications, including spoof videos offered as the real thing. Innocuous photos are doctored to make it look like there are leaks from within the spraying program. When such fakes are exposed, chemtrail believers dig in their heels or get angry.

Blogger Mick West has become the archenemy of chemtrail believers.

“They really just basically ignored 70 years of science on the subject,” West said. “People basically have this misconception that contrails don’t persist, therefore they must be chemtrails.”

The reason contrails aren’t seen all the time is the same reason clouds don’t appear daily. They vary with weather conditions.

More air traffic means more contrails, which often morph into cloud cover, often to the point where they interfere with power production at solar plants such as Ivanpah across the Nevada state line.

West said he agrees there is a lot of spraying such as cloud seeding, crop dusting and military testing. Did the Nellis Air Force Base Thunderbirds spray the Super Bowl crowd with poison, or was that merely a pyrotechnic display?

Barnes said he thinks there is a plot to control the weather and he believes chemtrails are poisonous. Tests have confirmed toxic levels of aluminum, barium and other substances in his hair.

“So I tested my 6 year old daughter’s hair,” Barnes said. “Same thing on her. Same concentrations, three times over the toxic limits.”

But just because hair contains aluminum doesn’t mean it came from the back on an airplane, West said.

“It’s one of those things where you can’t prove a negative,” he said. “You can’t prove there is nothing going on, but you can prove there is no evidence. For example, there has been no increase in the amount of global dimming, which you would expect if some kind of stuff was being sprayed into the air.”

Said Allin: “Think about it. If you were behind this, what’s protecting your family from the chemicals you’re spraying up in the air that will fall down on your grandchildren?”

It turns out that Thursday is National Weatherpersons Day. That is worth mentioning because weathercasters get daily phone calls and emails about chemtrails, and get blasted when they don’t agree that it is part of a huge conspiracy.

Likewise, I might lose my membership in Conspiracies Anonymous for saying that the evidence is weak. Bottom line is that the Las Vegas Valley gets about a half million flights overhead annually.

That is the primary reason there are so many lines in the sky. Anyone with evidence or proof that chemtrails are real can send it to the I-Team.

I’ve been asking for such evidence for more than 12 years and I’m still waiting.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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