Contrails spark conspiracy talk, questions about health effects — Part 1


Claims that contrails are causing sickness and are part of a government conspiracy spurred a lively debate in the summer of 1999. Investigative journalist George Knapp talks to people on both sides of the issue. Aired on KLAS TV in Las Vegas on July 14, 1999. First of 2 parts.

Across the country, sky watchers are taking notes and photos, posting them on the Internet and then debating what they mean. The suspicion is that the government is spraying major cities for some unknown purpose, perhaps to sicken the population. Evidence for that is slim scientists say, besides what’s the motive? But in Las Vegas and elsewhere, some contrails appear to be manufactured by planes that seemed to be plowing the skies. On June 11, an otherwise clear day, planes turned our valley sky into a giant checkerboard.

“By the time they got done the valley was all cloudy,” said one unnamed witness.

Some contrails can spread out over hours and become clouds themselves. Maybe it’s the Pentagon experimenting with the weather, some wonder.

Speculation is rampant.

“They’re trying to inoculate the population for a possible terrorist biological weapons attack,” says an unnamed witness.

“Something could have been passing over the area and they didn’t want you to see it,” says another unnamed witness.

The National Weather Service acknowledges that contrails can and do become clouds. “Contrails can develop into a thin veil of high-level cloudiness and become the main cloud or weather feature for that day,” says Kim Runk, Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service.

But that’s a far cry from a Pentagon conspiracy the weather guys say.

“Public safety is a primary concern of the National Weather Service,” Runk said. “And if there were some kind of a government plot to modify the weather that would impact public health or public safety we would certainly know about it.”

Persistent in the contrail debate are reports of “spider webs” or “angel hair” falling to earth after contrails are seen. The weather services that can’t be true.

A Pahrump resident said a substance that fell from the sky into a pond eventually turned to foam, and fish in the pond died. (KLAS-TV)

But the owners of a Pahrump fish pond say something fell from the sky during a recent rain.

“White spider-webbie looking stuff falling into the puddles. They look like spider webs,” said one of the pond’s owners.

“We got a white, spidery material on the water that dissipated and turned into foam. The rains brought something,” said another.

Within two days, hundreds of fish in their pond were dead. Dave and Barbara blame the contrails they’d seen. “This wasn’t ordinary jet traffic. It was them running patterns in one direction and then coming back the other,” said Dave, the pond owner.

“I have no idea of what people are finding that are claiming to find angel hair or cobweb-like material. But I can say that it has nothing to do with the contrails they see in the sky,” Runk said.

Next story: Contrail plots, chemical concerns spread despite denials — Part 2

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