Chemtrails: Real or Not?

What you always thought were simply contrails are really dangerous chemicals being sprayed.

Filed under Conspiracies, Environment, Urban Legends

Skeptoid #27
February 15, 2007
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Today we're going to put on our Men In Black suits, buy a plane ticket, and spray the world with mysterious chemicals as part of an evil government conspiracy. For today's subject is chemtrails.

Wow. Where to begin. I read a fair amount of skeptical, paranormal, and conspiracy web sites, but I don't recall ever reading so much vituperation, anger, and name calling as when I read a few forums discussing chemtrails. If you're not familiar with the term, chemtrails are what some conspiracy theorists call aircraft condensation trails. Most of them don't believe that conventional contrails exist, and that when you see one, you're actually seeing a trail of mysterious airborne chemicals sprayed from the aircraft. Those who do concede the existence of contrails often claim subtle differences in appearance or behavior between a condensation trail and a chemical trail.

First, let's discuss exactly what a contrail is. A condensation trail, also called a vapor trail, forms at altitudes above 25,000 feet in temperatures below -40 degrees when engine exhaust condenses into ice crystals, creating an artificial cirrus cloud. Water is produced by hydrocarbon burning engines in about the same quantity as fuel consumed, and in the right conditions, this extra addition of water into the air pushes the water vapor past the saturation point, and condensation occurs. It takes a moment to happen, which accounts for the contrail appearing a short distance behind the aircraft, rather than immediately, like you'd see from a smoke pod on an aerobatic plane, or like when a crop duster releases chemicals. Contrails can also be caused at high altitudes by the extreme low pressure areas created by wingtip vortices, which reduce the temperature enough to condense the existing moisture in the air. As previously mentioned, many chemtrail believers claim that there is no such thing as a condensation trail. Since they're well understood, 100% reproducible, and observable practically any time you look into the sky, the onus is really on the believers to prove that no such thing is possible. In my opinion they have quite an uphill battle on this one.

By the way, in case you're wondering whether I meant Celsius or Fahrenheit when I said -40 degrees, here's a bit of science trivia for you. -40 is the point where the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales are the same. If you can figure out where Fahrenheit and Kelvins intersect, go to and post it in the forum.

Some chemtrail believers say that the population is being gassed with some unknown chemical for an unknown reason. Others tie into pop culture, suggesting that chemtrails are the active manifestation of one proposal to combat global warming by placing dust into the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight. One guy told me "You guys are so full of yourselves just can't conceive of spiritual warfare can you? Try this fact: malevolent interdimensional entities are involved — project keep the human slave race suppressed."

Like all conspiracy theories, chemtrails require us to accept the existence of a coverup of mammoth proportions. In this case, virtually every aircraft maintenance worker at every airport in the world needs to be either part of the conspiracy, or living under a threat from Men in Black, with not a single whistle blower or deathbed confession in decades. Yet the threats are not frightening enough to prevent stories like the following from appearing on the Internet:

For reasons you will understand as you read this I can not divulge my identity. I am an aircraft mechanic for a major airline. I work at one of our maintenance bases located at a large airport. One day last month I was called out from our base to work on a plane for another airline. When I got to the plane I found out that the problem was in waste disposal system. When I got into the bay I realized that something was not right. There were more tanks, pumps, and pipes then should have been there. As I tried to find the problem I quickly realized the extra piping and tanks were not connected to the waste disposal system, at all. To my amazement the manuals did not show any of the extra equipment I had seen with my own eyes. I even tied in to the manufacturer files and still found nothing. I could trace the control wires from the box to the pumps and valves but there were no control circuits coming into the unit. The only wires coming into the unit was a power connection to the aircraft's main power bus. The system had 1 large tank and 2 smaller tanks. It was hard to tell in the cramped compartment, but it looked like the large tank could hold about 50 gallons. The tanks were connected to a fill and drain valve that passed through the fuselage just behind the drain valve for the waste system. I discovered that the pipes from this mystery system lead to every 1 out of 3 of the static discharge wicks. These wicks had been "hollowed out" to allow whatever flows through these pipes to be discharged through the fake wicks.

About 30 minutes later I was paged to see the General Manager. When I went in his office I found that our union rep and two others who I did not know were waiting on me. He told me that a serious problem had been discovered. He said that I was being written up and suspended for turning in false paperwork. I sat at home the first day of my suspension wondering what the hell had happened to me. That evening I received a phone call. The voice told me "Now you know what happens to mechanics who poke around in things they shouldn't. The next time you start working on systems that are no concern of yours you will lose your job! As it is, I'm feeling generous, I believe that you'll be able to go back to work soon." CLICK. Well that's it. Now I know 'THEY' are watching me.

Another forum poster replied:

$2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

I, too, work for an airline, though I work in upper management levels. I wish I could document everything I am about to relate to you, but to do so is next to impossible and would result in possible physical harm to me. Airline companies in America have been participating in something called Project Cloverleaf for a few years now. The earliest date anyone remembers being briefed on it is 1998. I was briefed on it in 1999. The few airline employees who were briefed on Project Cloverleaf were all made to undergo background checks, and before we were briefed on it we were made to sign non-disclosure agreements, which basically state that if we tell anyone what we know we could be imprisoned. About twenty employees in our office were briefed along with me by two officials from some government agency. They didn't tell us which one. They told us that the government was going to pay our airline, along with others, to release special chemicals from commercial aircraft. When asked what the chemicals were and why we were going to spray them, they told us that information was given on a need-to-know basis and we weren't cleared for it. He seemed perturbed at this question and told us in a tone of authority that the public doesn't need to know what's going on, but that this program is in their best interests. He also stated that we should not tell anyone, nor ask any more questions about it.

I take back my comment about the lack of whistle blowers. It seems that just about everyone is discussing it freely, and since the government is openly laying out virtually all the essential details to 20 people in every airline office in the world with complicity from all the union reps, why the secrecy? If we're truly on the edge of a global warming catastrophe and a worldwide cooperative effort to spray reflective dust into the atmosphere is the only way we can save ourselves, wouldn't a little glasnost be a more effective approach? Of course it would, but then we wouldn't have had those two very exciting and original stories.

If the goal was to drug a population, you'd put the gas where it could reach people, you wouldn't release a minute quantity into the jet stream where it's going to be diluted to undetectable levels and eventually rain into the oceans. If the goal is to put reflective dust into the atmosphere to fight global warming, you'd need to plant it a lot higher than commercial jets can travel if you don't want it to rain right back to earth (in fact you need to put it well up into the stratosphere, not just at the top of the troposphere), and you'd need a lot more than can ever be delivered with 50 gallon tanks. But then, the arguments in favor of chemtrails don't appear to be based on any kind of logic. They appear to be based on nothing more than imagined conspiracies and sightings of visible contrails, which are well understood, and are being left by planes every hour of the day over every city in the world, and have been for over 50 years. It's how the malevolent interdimensional entities remind us of their ominous presence.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianDunning.

Brian Dunning

© 2007 Skeptoid Media, Inc. Copyright information

References & Further Reading

Anonymous. "An Airline Manager's Statement." Aerosol Crimes & Cover Up. C.E. Carnicom, 22 May 2000. Web. 11 Nov. 2009. <>

Anonymous. "A Mechanics Statement." Aerosol Crimes & Cover Up. C.E. Carnicom, 19 May 2000. Web. 11 Nov. 2009. <>

Bruce Conway. "The Chemtrail Smoking Gun - Proof of Global Geoengineering Projects." Lightwatcher. Illumina Publishing, 20 Jun. 2003. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. <>

Hope, Ray. America Sold Out. Longwood, FL: Xulon Press, 2003. 145-152.

Ludlum, David M. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1991. 24-26.

U.S. Air Force. "Contrails Facts." Official website of the U.S. Airforce. U.S. Air Force, 13 Oct. 2005. Web. 5 Nov. 2009. <>

United States Environmental Protetion Agency. "Aircraft Contrails Factsheet (EPA430-F-00-005)." United States Environmental Protetion Agency. 1 Sep. 2000, EPA430-F-00-005.

Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "Chemtrails: Real or Not?" Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc., 15 Feb 2007. Web. 18 Apr 2014. <>


10 most recent comments | Show all 260 comments

You haven't got that right, in my opinion Brian.

A small unobservable teapot orbiting the Sun is simply a ridiculous comparison to make with trails in the sky that are not only possible, but according to many witnesses, highly likely, given their altitude, composition, and behavior, many of which do not conform to your own description of contrails.

It requires the observation of skeptics that assert that there are no chemtrails. Not only that, they must discard their own confirmation bias and observe the trail in the light of genuine enquiry, not belief.
That also entails dropping their belief that any trail that has been observed reported outside the parameters of a contrail is the assertions of a conspiracy theorist alleging some sort of world-wide chem-spraying of populations.

There has been no assertion from the four posters that such a process is going on in the manner that you deal with in your article, so it leaves the plain question (which I have posted to) as to whether any of these trails in the sky clearly observed are in fact something other than contrails.

You already have proof provided on Skeptoid that spraying of covert chemicals have taken place over Auckland (not chemtrails) which deals with whether such a thing is possible.
You have proof that such a thing is possible via the US laws I posted.
You now have a very good reason that jet fuel may well be the cause of the non-contrails in the sky.

All have now been shown to be likely NOT nonexistent.

Macky, Auckland
December 29, 2013 3:04pm

Macky, my experience is in Air Operations, Air Traffic Control and Airfield Management for the U.S A F. The incident I described in my earlier post (T-37 tanks leaking) did indeed take place in the 1990s.

I am not sure if Jet A was re-blended with this solution during that military trial period, but data on Jet A1 is available to peruse.

Additives in Jet A are common, including Ice Inhibitors. I did not see the aircraft that generated the "Chemtrail", so I wouldn't know if it was a military or civilian aircraft.

David Baker, Sacramento, CA
December 30, 2013 3:14am

David were you able to determine the height of the trail you saw, even approx. ?

Macky, Auckland
December 30, 2013 8:08pm

Good grief!!

Did I just read Macky complaining that other people are suffering with "confirmation bias"?

Macky, your whole argument is confirmation bias and anecdote, thankfully humanity has, mostly, left Medieval superstitious paranoia led 'science' behind and now has a logical need to leave your paranoia behind.

Mr Baker's comments regarding additives are just anecdote, someone can come on here with equal or similar qualifications and verifiable expertise, and claim with complete authority that chemtrails do not exist, but you would not accept that as evidence as it is counter to your 'agenda' and delusion.

Engineering science has shown that contrails do exist, ever since we could film planes at altitude it has been obvious. We also know that the atmosphere is much more complicated than we once you have any idea of how much weight of air is above every inch of you? Do have even the slightest idea of how much of these alleged chemicals would need to be dumped from altitude, using probably the least effective method of dispersal?

If you want to 'poison' or chemically intervene the general population easier and more efficient methods exist, food and water come to mind immediately.

We have the science to show that contrails are being made every day, it is for you to prove chemtrails are also being made, without just anecdote and paranoia.

Gazwald, Smith, Hants
January 01, 2014 6:17pm

Gazwald, please calm down and breath through your nose.

First of all, I suggest to actually read what I've been saying all along in this thread.
Once you've done that, it should be obvious to you that I am not paranoid at all. No agenda.

Secondly, Mr. Baker actually works/worked right at the sharp end of the aviation military, and when one takes a brief pause, one may realize that there is a very good chance that he knows what he is talking about regarding what he has posted to Skeptoid.

No.3 There has never been at any time on this thread that I have said that contrails do not exist, nor the other three observers of trails which do not look like contrails, that I have referred to.

No.4 Neither have the four of us ever asserted any wholesale spraying or chemical intervention of the general population. We have merely reported our clear observations to Skeptoid and from there we have evidence that WHATEVER THEY ARE, there are certainly trails in the sky from aircraft (at different heights from where contrails form) that are not contrails, hence the TITLE to this thread is well and truly answered with a resounding YES.

I have also provided a link to US laws that permit testing of chemicals on civilians, BUT never have I asserted that anything is going on that pertains to the extreme nature of the content of Brian's article.

Like many other "skeptics", your post is an automatic kneejerk response that anything outside normal contrail observation must be a CT.

Macky, Auckland
January 01, 2014 10:28pm

I'm not a scientist, i don't claim to know anything about planes and all the science and mechanics that goes into flying. However, I just discovered that I could take a snow ball pack it hard and take it indoors take a lighter to it and the snowball starts to burn like plastic or Styrofoam it turns black and stinks it doesn't melt any water. if this is not chemicals what is it. the snow here was not like this when i was a kid. what changed? by the way we have had more snow fall this year and below freezing temps than normal for our area. so what is going on? It has crossed my mind that perhaps things are being sprayed into the air for the global warming theory. OR is it chemicals that are causing the global ? warming? I also in the summer found a greasy black film on my white siding and windows....jet fuel residue? I'm merely stating what i have observed and my thoughts that's all but i would like an honest answer about the snow that is just scary.

We HAD to do this. I urge you all. Please watch this short clip.

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auntie, michigan
February 01, 2014 9:11am

I am (to be generous) dubious about the high profile "chemtrails" advocates and the objectivity of a few believers I've come across.

Nevertheless, I think we benefit by accurately portrayiing the assertions of something like observing an apparently anomolous "contrail-like" phenomenon. That is, not imputing a bunch of additional (easily discredited) beliefs to them, absent any evidence thereof.

So for example if all one says is that they observed what seems to be a peculiar phenomenon, let's NOT pretend that they must buy into every extreme position that any chemtrail advocate has ever taken. Maybe they just saw something which was unusual but normal, maybe there was some limited test of something, maybe they imagined it, maybe they fabricated it - we don't have enough info to tell yet.

Automatically lumping them in with the crazies so as to immediately discount them is not rational skepticism. Respond the what they actually assert, or ask them about other beliefs, but don't tar them with something they have not said.

Zeph, DryNorCal
February 19, 2014 3:30pm

Zeph has posted one of the more sensible sets of comments on this thread, apart from David Baker's account of his observations.

Zeph wrote:
"Automatically lumping them in with the crazies so as to immediately discount them is not rational skepticism. Respond the what they actually assert, or ask them about other beliefs, but don't tar them with something they have not said."

Unfortunately, even Skeptoid is guilty in part of this type of behaviour, and encourages such kneejerk responses by so-called rationally-thinking skeptics, by its redefinitions of what a conspiracy theory really is, followed by the automatic debunking of anything outside the Official Story, or Standard Model, as Skeptoid puts it.

No evidence whatsoever is often presented for said Standard Model on more than one issue covered by Skeptoid threads, plus the complete ignoring of solid and official evidence against the Standard Model, and although Skeptoid has shown to be prepared to alter minor mistakes in its threads, it has failed to alter said mistakes when solid evidence provides compelling testimony against the main theme of Skeptoid so-called skepticism as the primary argument of a particular article.

Macky, Auckland
February 19, 2014 10:44pm

could all that jet fuel not be doing it when a pilot dumps it before landing if his tanks are to full

andy, glasgow
February 28, 2014 6:47pm

I don't see why that should not be a genuine reason for some of the sightings of non-contrails, andy.

But the large number of such sightings by multiple witnesses would surely be far more than the number of times a pilot finds the need to dump fuel, I would think.

As far as I know, fuel is dumped in the event of some emergency, and although that may certainly contribute to a few "chemtrail" sightings, the three other posters that I refer to all through this thread have said they have experienced numerous sightings of trails that are clearly not normal contrails.

Macky, Auckland
March 01, 2014 1:30am

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