A bizarre cloud over Alaska has spurred a police investigation and a wave of imaginative theories on social media.
The long, narrow column of smoke, featuring a claw-like formation at its bottom end, appeared over Lazy Mountain on Thursday. Alaskans rushed to Facebook to debate what it could be, with guesses ranging from plane crash to rocket launch to extraterrestrial activity.
“Our Government have been testing hypersonic missiles and aircraft,” one user theorized.
“There are Auroral research rockets, and they’ve been putting those up into the air for decades,” another said.
“It was aliens,” someone else posited.
Local police begged to differ. According to the Alaska State Troopers, the strange sight was simply an airplane’s trail in the light of a sunrise.
“ââTroopers believe that the photos and videos showed a contrail from the commercial jet combined with the rising sun which together caused the unique atmospheric sight,” the Troopers said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
The agency said it received so many calls about the cloud that it sent a helicopter crew to investigate whether a plane had crashed, but found nothing.
“There have been no reports of overdue aircraft or ELT [emergency locator transmitter] activations indicating an aircraft crash,” the Troopers said. “A rescue team on a helicopter flew a mission around the Lazy Mountain area this morning and located nothing suspicious and there were no signs of crashed aircraft.”
The agency said it learned a commercial jet was flying in the area, heading toward JFK Airport in New York. Troopers called the plane to make sure everything was OK, and the pilots reported “normal flight operations.”
Many on Facebook were unconvinced.
“So contrails now have flames within them?” one user asked. “I’m more inclined to believe it was a rocket now.”
Meanwhile, the theories continued.
“I still think it was a vampire turning to dust at sunrise,” one person wrote.
“Asteroid trail,” another said.
“Someone drinking piping hot coffee on their porch,” someone else guessed.