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Mystery Missile Madness

The mystery contrail is obviously an airplane. The aircraft is flying towards the observer. The air over the Pacific is clear, so the contrail is visible all the way to the horizon. This creates the optical illusion of a rocket flying up, rather than the actual situation of an airplane flying horizontally. The conditions are unusual, in that the contrail is unusually persistent, and it is being illuminated by the setting sun.

The object generating the contrail is moving too slowly to be a rocket. The contrail is not expanding as the "rocket" gains "altitude" - which would be the case as the exhaust plume expanding into less dense high altitude air.

The only mystery here is why all the King's horses and all the King's men cannot produce a single person to explain these obvious facts. And you wonder why the War effort falters at times, and why the Tea Baggers think our taxes are being wasted.

"The Daily Show" added a couple of new details. The helicopter pilot who made the video said the object rose into the sky from "beyond" the horizon, as would be expected from an airplane. Most importantly, he stated that the apparition lasted for about ten minutes. The largest liquid propellant rocket would have a powered flight phase of about five minutes, a solid propellant ICBM would have a three minute boost phase, and smaller rockets would have a shorter period of powered flight.