Contrail mystifies, worries Phoenix residents - FOX 10 News |

Contrail mystifies, worries Phoenix residents

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If you were up early Thursday morning, you probably saw a strange, swirling cloud in the sky.

Calls came pouring into the FOX 10 newsroom and some people even called 911, wondering what was going on -- asking what the cloud was and if it was dangerous. Many viewers uploaded their pictures of the contrail to

A lot of people were mystified, waking up to this at about 5:30 a.m.  It could be seen in most of the southwest, Arizona, New Mexico -- even as far as Las Vegas.

Well, the official answer: it was a contrail from a 40 foot long Juno ballistic training missile launched from Ft. Wingate near Gallup, New Mexico.  It was headed towards the White Sands Missile Range when another missile was launched to intercept it.  The cloud was the contrail.

"It's been a long time since we've got photos about contrails in this particular area,"said White Sand's Cammy Montoya.  "The time that it was launched and the direction of the wind and the time the sun came up and hit that was a beautiful moment and everyone got a free show."

White Sands Missile Range launches missiles nearly everyday, but rarely do you see the contrail.  Thursday's launch was bigger than usual, involving a lot of planning and coordination.

"This is one of our high end missiles, meaning it's not one we do everyday," said Montoya.

Mystery solved.

Since the mid 1990s, there have been 14 launches of large targets from Ft. Wingate.  This launch was a success and everything went as planned.

Click here to see more viewer pictures

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