Man spots mystery aircraft in Wichita sky

Well, isn’t this interesting!

A man sees a strange contrail, snaps a picture and sees a mystery aircraft. Is it a secret or is it something known?

Wichita’s mystery in the sky | Wichita News and Weather | Wichita, KS |

“Right over the city, clear as a bell,” said Templin. “Anyone that was looking up would have seen it. You don’t usually see military or even civilian aircraft’s jets that leave contrails making those kind of severe departures off of the given route.”

Templin says the aircraft made several; severe 180 degree turns in the sky in the shape of an “S”, even more unusual.

“Absolutely silent, no sound,” he said.

He was adamant that it was not an alien craft but a cool man-made thing. Any ideas?

  20 comments for “Man spots mystery aircraft in Wichita sky

  1. Mark Richards
    April 17, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    As at least one of the ksn commenters says, this looks very much like a Boeing Phantom Ray.

  2. Jeff B
    April 17, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    Visible pressure wave off the nose of a jet fighter going supersonic?

  3. Chris Howard
    April 17, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    I recently saw an F-22 Raptor do exactly the manouvers he describes, during the air show segment, at Thunder Over Louisville this past weekend.

    My guess is that it’s military, perhaps a drone prototype, which would allow for greater manouverability because the G-Forces can be greater sans human pilot.

  4. April 17, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    The B2’s base in Whiteman isn’t that far away, but I’d sat the Boeing Phantom Ray is the best bet.

  5. April 17, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Huh, it’s not a B-2. That’s the obvious thing, because it looks fairly similar to one, and the fleet is based in Whiteman AFB, Missouri, seventy miles away. It could be a Phantom Ray. It doesn’t make any sound because those aircraft are designed to be quiet to start with, and it’s quite high.

  6. knightofbob
    April 18, 2014 at 12:22 AM

    With that image, I’d say a B-2 is most likely. The angle at the nose appears right, and the contrails could have made the turns look tighter if their distance was underestimated. The Phantom Ray theory is out in my opinion; I don’t know much about the project, but everything I see indicates a single exhaust, and that picture definitely has two trails.

    As far as the sound goes, some of my family went to an air show where a B-2 did a low-altitude, high-speed flyover, and they all describe it as surprisingly quiet. Throw in a higher than perceived altitude and urban ambient noise, an observer on the ground likely wouldn’t hear anything.

    Or, it could be something currently unknown to the public, but it’s nowhere near an Air Force test base, which makes that unlikely.

  7. Mark Heil
    April 18, 2014 at 7:19 AM

    Are Pahntom Rays supersonic? Even if not, I never hear any jet that I see a contrail for, they are all over the sky.

  8. MrClean417
    April 18, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    252 miles away. Not that far at 3-400 miles an hour

  9. MrClean417
    April 18, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    You can hear them but you need to be someplace quite with little to no winds. I’ve been laying down in a field out in the middle of Kansas on a calm day and watched the planes with contrails going over, noticing how far aft of the plane the sound seems to travel from. Can’t hear them in the city like that though. It’s also DARK at night, you can see way into the night sky, make you realize just how small you are.

  10. John
    April 18, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    I suspect what you are seeing in this picture is not an aircraft, but the shock wave that has formed around one. When an aircraft is flying near or above mach 1, a shockwave forms on the leading edge of the wings and fuselage. If conditions are right you won’t be able to see through the turbulent air that exists at he boundary of that shock wave. Turns out the conditions that are conducive to this shock wave being visible are similar to those that make contrails visible. So you may not be seeing the aircraft at all, you may only be seeing the air around it. It could very well be a conventional aircraft hiding inside that shock wave.

    General explanation of super sonic shock wave.
    Photo that illustrates that the shock wave can be visible even it the thing that cause it is not:

  11. jeremey
    April 18, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    It can’t be a B2. The contrails are in the wrong place and the shape is completely wrong. What you are seeing is an unknown aircraft…..publicly. I would say it’s the USAs next gen long range bomber or spy plane. Our if you want to go over the deep end a Chinese spy plane. Either way is not a known aircraft.

  12. F89
    April 18, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    Contrails in the wrong place? Thats’ were the engines are on a B2-upper body, to the left and right of the center-line.

  13. knightofbob
    April 18, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Here’s a clearer image someone posted on flickr:

    The Wichita contrails line up with where the exhausts of a B-2 would be, provided that’s what the aircraft shown is, which is supported by the visible part of its silhouette.

  14. Sean South
    April 19, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    B-2 or Boeing Phantom training flight. High enough altitude to leave a contrail. Maneuvers suggest training, odd for a B-2 but perhaps not for the Phantom as the remote pilot may be practicing surveillance sweeps. Coloring suggests the Phantom. Route (if you use Google maps – plot Whiteman AFB to sighting area) is right along I-35 N so in case of an emergency landing the interstate can be shut down and the aircraft can be landed. We could really figure it out if there was something to scale it against. The Phantom is only 36 feet long with a wingspan of 50 feet. The B-2 is twice that in both dimensions. Because of that and the apparent altitude I initially thought it had to be the B-2 and ruled out the Phantom, but seeing the camera that guy had (big and powerful enough to be placed on the aircraft itself!) that makes it difficult to judge without a reference point for angular sizing of the aircraft dimensions.

  15. jeremey
    April 19, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Is the wrong shape. Look at a B2 from the under side. There are more brakes in the trailing edge of the air frame check out the photos from wiki
    also some foods for thought here is another mystery plane over Texas a few weeks ago. Cross Country test flights maybe

  16. steve
    April 20, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Many years ago I saw a Lockheed brochure photograph of an ?. Similar shape and supposedly capable of very high altitude plus mach something-incredible. Interesting though was the cockpit area – no see-through areas despite ejection seat warnings etc. I assumed it was to be remotely operated and the warnings were a bluff. Years later we now know there are many different drones – some very big and some very fast.

  17. Justin
    April 20, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Contrails are made by condensation, due to pressurizing the. Its not exhaust from turbines. Now, turbines work by condensing the air so at lower altitude with a clearer view, you can tell the number of turbines from the contrails. But with from that altitude, you can plainly see that a lot of that is coming off of the craft itself. Phantom ray is more than likely the correct guess. And if you look closely, there are three trails not just two. But the altitude and clarity of the photograph isn’t enough to justify it being a B2. The shape is wrong as well. The angle of the wings to nose is more similar to a F117. But body length and detail is to difficult to make out in the photo.

  18. Tribeca Mike
    April 21, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    Looks like the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States (the pyramid and eyeball thingie) to me.

  19. Howard
    April 22, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    That photo is not appropriate for demonstrating what you claim. I have no idea how right or wrong the shock wave making things invisible is, but that photo is at a glance obviously a schlieren photograph, and is not reflecting what would be visible to an ordinary observer. That is the point of schlieren photography, to make those invisible pressure waves visible. The caption under the photo in the article confirms that it is a schlieren photograph:

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