Air travel has come a long way since the Wright brothers made the first flight in 1903. Nowadays, we think nothing of jumping on a plane and flying off to the other side of the world. Few of us understand the science and engineering that keep planes in the sky, and why sometimes the sky seems to be full of vapour trails.
Many believe that these trails are in fact chemicals, spread into the atmosphere as the plane flies.
But is there any truth in this theory?
Are Our Governments Using Airplanes to Dump Chemicals?
Contrails and Chemtrails
In the aviation industry, the trails left by some airplanes as they fly across the sky are known as condensation trails, or “contrails” for short. These are caused by the hot, damp air pushed out by the jet’s engines forming tiny ice crystals in the sky. How long the contrails last depends very much on how humid the atmosphere is at that time.
If there is a lot of dampness in the air, the ice crystals will grow and last for a long time once the plane has passed. If the atmosphere is a lot drier, the contrails will disappear more quickly.
As it can be hard to predict how long contrails will last, this has given rise to theories that it’s not just damp air and heat that the planes are pumping out.
What has fuelled the conspiracy?
The ideas that planes are being used to pump chemicals into the atmosphere come in no small part from a paper published in the 1990s by the American government, looking at whether it would be possible to affect weather patterns by using aircrafts to spread chemicals or other substances into the upper atmosphere. The US military stated that investigations into this went no further than the drafting of the original document, but conspiracy theorists believe that the US government are indeed using aircraft to either modify weather patterns, control the population or cause illnesses, such as breathing difficulties.
Adding more fuel to the theorists’ fire is the fact that military aircraft generally do not create vapour trails as they fly at a lower altitude. Any denial of involvement from the government just makes the theorists sure that they are on the right track with their thinking.
Patterns of chemtrails
Some of the theories may appear to make sense when you look into the sky and see several trails, all evenly spaced and heading in the same direction. However, there is a simple explanation for this.
Air traffic, especially from Western Europe heading across the Atlantic, follows a number of set flight paths, sort of like motorways in the sky. Planes follow each other at a set distance between them because this makes managing traffic simpler for the air traffic controllers.
This is the reason why contrails look as if they are in regular patterns.
Governments around the world have categorically denied that they are involved in any sort of spreading of chemicals from civilian or military aircraft and all major airlines have denied knowledge of chemical spreading too. Of course, the conspiracy theorists don’t believe the denials and state that the airlines, governments and air traffic authorities are all in cahoots and covering up the truth, but the facts are that there is no hard evidence that chemicals have ever been spread from aeroplanes in the way that is being alleged.
It seems reasonable to think that if chemicals were being loaded into hundreds or thousands of planes around the world every day, a pilot, airport worker or government employee would have blown the whistle at some point.
So what does fall from planes?
Contrary to popular belief, planes don’t drop toilet waste out of the skies either. Waste is sucked into huge tanks which are emptied when the plane reaches its destination. Sometimes ice can form on the outside of planes and this has been known to drop off planes as they start their descent and cause damage to property on the ground.
Finally, there are also special crop spraying aircraft which fly at a much lower altitude and spray fertilisers and pesticides onto growing crops. These do not even fly high enough in the sky to form contrails.
I realise the nature of this article could very well invoke a response from all kinds of people that have their own beliefs. The reason that I researched this story in the first place is because I believed it to be a very real possibility and I love a good conspiracy as much as the next person. Despite finding plenty of theories, I based my research on available scientific evidence. Of course whether I believe it or not is a completely different story….. conspiracy theorists could well be correct one day; we are bound to get at least one correct surely?