Reported Fireball in Oregon Sky - 20th November 2013 [Sunset contrail]


Senior Member.
I think that this is another case of a sunlit contrail being misinterpreted?

Video description
Flying in KATU's news helicopter this morning, saw what we thought was a jet contrail. But ground photos appear to show something that may have crashed to Earth. This is the trail the object left. What was it?
Content from External Source
An example of the imagery taken by ground observers. See KATU links for photo gallery. Times listed for example as 0710 and 0715. The remnants of the contrail now sunlit obviously caused many to think that they were witnessing a fireball. You can see from the news article that Jim Todd, Planetarium Manager at OMSI, was confident that it was a fireball caused by a meteorite. For myself it is just another example of how an aircraft contrail can be misinterpreted and people can be led astray.


From the cameraman's description they were flying over Interstate 205 at the Clackamas Town Center
looking east. The footage on the news channel has the time as 0624 (Pacific Standard Time - 1424 GMT). The KATU article has the time as 0630. From approximately 0:20 an aircraft strobe can be seen during the zoom in. Possibly from southerly traffic or an aircraft still climbing?

The footage was later aired on the news. See following for news footage and images.

The following playback link is from Flight Radar 24. It is centered on Mount Hood and runs from 1400 GMT (0600 PST)

I believe that flights from Portland International (KPDX) are the source of the contrail? Between 0600 and 0630 there are at least two flights that were in the process of climbing. As they pass south of Mount Hood they will be climbing through 26,000 feet and likely producing contrails through 30,000 feet plus? Perspective obviously makes the contrail appear to go down towards the horizon.,-121.9/10

UAL1237 Boeing 737

AAL1064 McDonnell Douglas MD-83

AAL1064 data as an example

Mick West

Staff member
The interesting thing is the very bright glow at the end, and the rest of the trail being in shadow.

It does not seem to be lined up with the sun, so I think that it a mountain range or cloud blank that just coincidently shadowed most the trail, leaving the end brightly let for a minute or two.

Sure looks like a contrail though. Here's another view:

Note the brightness of the "fireball" is exactly the same as the illuminated clouds.
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Senior Member.
Excellent Cosmic! Thanks for the video upload. Also thanks to Mick for the input.

Some of the replies on the web regarding this event were comical. One believer posted that it was a chemtrail plane exploding in a fireball!

Good grief! I just had a glance at the comments on that video posted by Cosmic. The ignorance still continues!


Senior Member.
You should see some of the posts on ATS. Now it is secret missile tests!

Sure, "secret" missile tests which would surely be visible to over a million residents in the area. o_O

I think this is why I avoid reading ATS.