Missile Command.


There was an unusual amount of contrails streaking the sky this morning. In fact, the most I’ve ever seen in my life. Is this National Contrail Day? I looked up this morning and thought I was playing a game of Missile Command.

Contrails always fascinated me as a kid, yet I never knew what they were. Dictionary.com defines contrail as:

a visible condensation of water droplets or ice crystals from the atmosphere, occurring in the wake of an aircraft, rocket, or missile under certain conditions.

Actually, I just realized contrail was short for condensation trail. Is today’s weather, then, one of those ultra-rare conditions in which contrails will form on any flying object?

Anyways, back to my childhood contrail fascination. When I was young I used to think that jet planes did those on purpose to show off. Like there was some kind of cool switch or something that the pilot could toggle to make a trail whenever he felt like it. I could totally picture the pilot and co-pilot going across the sky on a long haul, and the co-pilot saying, “Hey man, wanna do a line?” And the pilot would go, “Yeah man, go for it.” And they’d hit a switch. I really thought that because often, I would spot a plane way, way up there, then suddenly a contrail would appear in its wake, as if it were manually activated.

I used to think that only special jet planes had that capability. I noticed that only the ones that flew way, way up there could make the lines. Not commercial 747 jumbo jets. I pictured pilots hanging out in a lounge, talking about what kind of planes they flew. I could see commercial airline pilots getting jealous ‘coz the other pilots told them they could do contrails. Then I wished that I could take one of those special planes whenever we took those long, boring trips to the Philippines. Then I could tell the pilot, “Hey man, do a line!” And I’d look out the rear window (yeah, if they had one) and see this long, fluffy vapor trail. And I’d go, “Neato!” and smile.

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