Contrails, “He Said – She Said”

Special Report by Dana Davis, The Asheville Tribune

June 22, 1999

Part Two of Three.

Everyone from NASA to ‘Joe Citizen’ to the core of the United States’ national defense seems to have their own opinion about contrails and their effects on humans and our environment. Each opinion has its own take and each side, brimming with conviction, is convinced that their theories are the superior syllogism in this debate.

Contrails are the white/silver cloud-like wake that follows behind an airplane when ice-crystals are disturbed by the passage of a particular airplane at relatively high altitudes. “Streaming from engines and wingtips, pencil-thin contrails almost always disappear within 45 seconds, fading quickly like the wake behind a boat,” says Will Thomas, long-time journalist and leading spokesman on the theory behind ‘chemtrails’.

Jay Reynolds is an engineer who claims to have extensive experience in marine propulsion and gas turbine engines. He too is a journalist who has researched and written on the topic of contrails for the past two years and adds that he is unaffiliated with any government or corporate organization.

Reynolds says that the essential conditions for contrail formation are: (1) hot jet exhaust. (2) ambient air close to saturation with water. (3) and an altitude sufficient to provide temperature for condensation to freeze, typically below -38C. He goes on to say that, “If a contrail is formed in air of low humidity, the ice crystals will rapidly evaporate. But if the air is saturated (humid) enough, the crystals will persist for some time. When the winds aloft are calm enough, the contrail will keep its shape. If the wind is strong enough, it will spread out and possibly form a cirrus type cloud.”

On this, Reynolds says he and Thomas agree. But that’s where the harmony ends. Thomas says he is convinced that the trails of synthetic clouds lingering behind jet planes contain pathogens and/or chemical agents that are being introduced in gross amounts into the atmosphere. While, Reynolds stands behind his theory that the persistent contrails are in fact normal exhaust and nothing more.


Thomas says he has a stock-pile of photographs and videotapes which all show unmarked, all-white KC-135 tanker aircraft laying, “thick, billowing trails over American communities at altitudes below 9,000 feet,” where he says normal contrails are unable to form due to low altitude. Thomas sites Major General Gregory Barlow of Camp Murray, who states that their KC-135 jet aircraft, in fact, operate below 33,000 feet, which, according to Thomas’s account, is the altitude where contrails typically form.

“The chemtrails I and so many others are personally observing, always linger for hours, forming an overcast from which veils of wispy fallout are often observed. Commercial jetliners have repeatedly been observed leaving no contrails alongside the billowing plumes emitted by tanker-type aircraft at the same or higher altitude,” Thomas said.

Reynolds explained that because commercial aircraft fly in regular corridors between destination, they sometimes do leave parallel contrails in their wake. He states that commercial planes can sometimes appear to be flying in formation while actually being separated by vast altitude, which, according to Reynolds, would not be apparent to an observer from the ground.

Reynolds also disagrees with Thomas regarding prime altitude for contrails. Reynolds sites this website – – which has recorded contrails forming and lingering at levels of 20,000 feet and below.

Nonetheless, Thomas says that the jets “layering these deliberate chemtrails have been observed switching their emissions off as they approach mountains or other geographically delineating features, only to turn their spray back on after making their turns back over the area being gridded.”

But Reynolds contends that the atmosphere is to blame for inconsistent trails. He explains that atmosphere changes with different altitudes and locations, causing contrails to stop and start as aircrafts move through varying air parcels.


Thomas has reported that there have been many “positive links” between serious respiratory illnesses and the fallout of ‘chemtrails’. Some of the ailments he has spoken of include bronchitis, repeated pneumonia and first-time asthma attacks, of which Thomas claims such patients have filled hospitals since last January — not only in the U.S., but in Great Britain and the former Soviet Union as well.

Thomas says his own co-researcher, Erminia Cassani, fell ill after handling a year-old gel sample that was collected supposedly from ‘chemtrail’ fallout that had fallen to the ground. According to Thomas, doctors discovered the same “Black Niger mold” in Cassani’s lungs that they found “swarming” along with other bacteria and toxic molds in the sample, which was said to have been taken from Pennsylvania.

According to Thomas an EPA-licensed lab analyzed the ‘goo sample’ and was baffled when the sample flowered in a Petri dish in less than 48 hours — less than half the time the scientist thought it would take. “The biologist said the lab staff had never seen anything grow this quickly. It was all over the plate,” Thomas said.

Some of the pathogens described by Thomas are pseudomonas fluorescens, which he says cause bad blood infections in humans and are used for biowarfare; streptomyces is described by Thomas as a toxic fungus that is almost nonexistent in outdoor samples; and a third bacillus, unnamed, which he believes contains a restriction enzyme used by clinical research labs to transfer parts of DNA from one cell to another. Thomas says several other extremely toxic molds have been found in the samples, but did not give any further description.

It is Thomas’s lack of detail and description that Reynolds says creates a total disillusion. “All information Thomas relates about his alleged samples is totally undocumented, unsourced, and therefore unverifiable. Of the organisms he claims to have identified, the majority are purposefully not identified by name. Each and every organism he does claim to have identified is ubiquitous, cosmopolitan, and endemic in the natural environment, and are probably the result of natural wind-blown dust and water,” Reynolds exclaims.

Reynolds continues, “While making little to no mention of most organisms he says were identified, Thomas goes to great lengths in exaggerating the health hazards and sinister connections he believes about these natural soil organisms. He attempts to link his story to other stories which are also unsourced, undocumented, and unverifiable. Near the end of his article, he mentions: “our own friendly biologist turned edgy and cold after finding few references to our toxic samples in medical books or Internet databanks.” Since attempting my own search of the facts about Thomas’ claims, I see clearly why the biologist “turned edgy and cold”, it was not a dearth of information on these common organisms, it was the biologist’s realization that she was expected to make a “big story” out of what she knew was common dirt.”

Reynolds also points out that, despite Thomas’ claims that the reported ailments were not caused by the flu, it was indeed the height of the flu season when many of the hospitals were filling up with patients suffering from respiratory ailments.

Furthermore, Reynolds accuses Thomas of old-fashioned witch doctor practices by listing his ‘chemtrail’ report on his website and then offering vitamins or ‘meds,’ via credit card payments, which Thomas claims can boost one’s immune system to ward off the mentioned pathogens supposedly found in ‘chemtrails’.


Thomas says he has spoken with many, many pilots, military personnel, NASA employees, and other officials from the federal government who have all substantiated that the type of contrails Thomas is speaking of are unusual at the very least. Thomas says he has some theories about possible sources he believes might responsible for the ‘chemtrails’ but no hard facts as to why. He added that he is not willing to come forth with any of his sources for fear of them being persecuted.

Reynolds claims to have gained much of his own information from pilots, military personnel, NASA employees, and other federal government officials, which he lists comprehensively in his reports.

Thomas did, however, mention this website ( which he says contain photographs that prove the intentional emission of ‘chemtrails’ from unmarked jets.

Though, Reynolds once again dispelled Thomas’ assertion, this time with the help of Dr. Patrick Minnis of NASA and Dr. Hermann Mannnstein of The German Institute of Atmospheric Physics, who say that these photos exemplify nothing more than a perfect example of normal contrails. “These guys are taking some great contrail photos. It’s too bad they don’t understand what they are seeing,” Minnis said. The summation from their reports on the photographs indicated that chemtrails have, in fact, been observed streaming behind planes, but it has been from airplanes with tanker tail-booms pointing downward at a 60-degree angle and from wings where aerial tanker refueling probes are deployed as well. These sources pointed out that none of the photos on this particular website have demonstrated any tanker aircraft with lowered tailbooms.


Both of these journalists have been nationally acclaimed for their work. Both have had their findings published in national environmental magazines. And both have dedicated a substantial amount of time and effort in reporting their findings on the controversial and, to some, mythical topic of contrails.

There are next to no mainstream news media sources reporting on this topic, but there are a vast wealth of reported findings that support either side of the argument via the internet and, with enough persistence and luck, professional opinion and diagnoses. However, few have submitted the amount of research, been as outspoken, dedicated, or informative as Thomas and Reynolds.

Several pilots, aviation mechanics, and other various experts have contacted The Asheville Tribune since the printing of Part I in support of Thomas’ claims, but many have also dispelled his reported findings.

When both Thomas and Reynolds were asked of their willingness to remain objective to the facts, they responded:

“Because I am dedicated to finding the facts behind the chemtrails mystery I am unable at this time to draw any conclusions except to say that the spraying is real and is continuing to alarm and sicken Americans and Canadians,” Thomas remarked.

Reynolds concluded, “I stand willing to alter my conclusions should new evidence become available.”

Thomas’ findings can be found at Reynolds’ article can be found at

Reynolds article was one of six sources used by the Congressional Research Service (CRS – a branch of the Library of Congress that does research at the request of congressmen who are asked questions about particular topics from U.S. citizens) in a report they recently conducted and submitted to the United States Congress.

Three of those six sources came from NASA and the other two came from CRS reports on Global Climate Change and Chemical/Biological Agents as related to Research Involving Human Subjects.

* Our search for the truth will continue in Part III of this series.

———————– PICTURES published with the hard-copy article appearing in the Tribune:

*Picture 1 – (Jet taking off in background behind control tower.) Part II of our “Air Quality” series takes a close look at varying arguments and theories on the true effects of contrails on our health and the environment. We also preview various government agencies quietly involved with the contrails controversy. Photo by Shaun Best REUTERS

*Pictures 2 & 3 – (Ulta-zoom pictures of jets laying thick contrails) Pictured above are two planes alleged by some observers to be “chemplanes.” See the photo below of a plane generating a more common type of contrail.

*Picture 4 – (Ulta-zoom picture of a jet laying a delayed thin contrail) This is a photograph of a more common contrail. Notice the gradual formation of the contrail as it cools from the engine, as opposed to the immediate formation behind the tail of the aircraft, as pictured in the other photos above. Some observers claim the latter to be ‘chemtrails’ being sprayed for the tips of the rear wings.

*Picture 5 – (Photo sequence of a new contrail as it spreads.) This chronological series of photos were taken over Leicester, near Asheville, looking west. The short contrail developed in a matter of seconds then abruptly stopped. At first it was a thin straight line but quickly spread out and appeared to be “falling” within this five minute photo sequence. Several “X-patterns” and other contrails, similar to these photos, were observed forming in the darkening sky. Photo’s by The Asheville Tribune.



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