Photographs taken in the early evening from interstate 90 some hundred miles west of Rochester on Tuesday, February 15 show a long black contrail in striking contrast to many other normally toned vapor trails in the sky over the greater Rochester and Eastern Buffalo areas.
Contrails, the pale white lines formed in the wake of jet airplanes, are formed by the condensation of water particles naturally jettisoned during fuel consumption at a specific altitude which begins around 26,000 to 30,000 feet(8km). Though the lines can appear and disappear quite suddenly due to a plane's rapidly changing altitude, their color remains relatively uniform under normal conditions.
There are various possible causes for abnormally colored jet vapor trails. Contrails commonly appear darker than normal due to various conditions of certain back-lighting. It should be noted that the sharp gradation in color evidenced along the right side of the dark trail in the photographs seems to denigrate the viability of this explanation. It would also seem likely that some of the other trails in the photograph set would display similar color variations in part or whole, but this was not found to be so.
Another possible cause could be engine malfunction. It is quite common for damaged or improperly operating engines to emit smoke. Though this is a most likely explanation for the discolored trail, some quick checks with various local air traffic control personnel was not able to turn up any report or rumor of a malfunctioning aircraft operating at that time. When asked if it were likely that the pilot of a public plane that was trailing smoke for over a mile would notice and report any engine problem, one informed source replied that this "most probably" was the case.
In a time of heightened civil awareness of air traffic activity due to perceived aerial threats by mainstream reporting, concerns over what materials may be released from the growing number of planes in our skies are being voiced. The recent 2010 Film "What in the World Are They Spraying?" clearly documents the unannounced, experimental testing of materials by the Carnegie Institution in which aerosol particulates were indeed sprayed from jet planes during tax funded research into a program to allay the pseudoscientific political ideology dubbed "Global Warming." It is also documented, in the above film and elsewhere, that many of the substances associated with such meteorological modification programs could be untested; some are even reported to be detrimental to human health.
While groups and individuals scramble to prove or debunk various theories about unusual aerial activity, the traffic in our skies grows. The clandestine of these appear to be well in step alongside the public variety.