Mysterious plume of light reported in eastern sky

Formation in sky was a contrail from missile testing in New Mexico

PALM DESERT, Calif. - A mysterious plume of light in the sky east of the Coachella valley was a contrail from missile testing at the White Sands, N.M., Missile Complex, according to a spokeswoman at the military base.

A statement from the base said, "The test of the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 or PAC-3 missile was conducted using a Juno missile as a target. The Juno was launched from Fort Wingate near Gallup N.M., and flew to White Sands Missile Range to be intercepted by the PAC-3."

Spokeswoman Cammy Montoya said the test was successful.

News Channel 3 received a large number of calls from viewers reporting the unusual sight in the eastern sky.

White Sands is located more than 700 miles east of the Coachella valley and 300 miles east of Phoenix, where the plume was also highly visible in the predawn sky. 

People in Los Angeles, Law Vegas and Salt Lake City also reported seeing the streak in the sky.

The launch took place at 5:30 a.m.

A base statement said, "The sunlight lit up the contrail from the Juno creating a light show. The Juno performed as expected."

This was the 14th time a large ballistic target missile has been fired from Fort Wingate since 1998.

The contrail has not always been visible from so far away depending upon the time of day and atmospheric conditions.

Cambria Mraz reported watching the missile launch along with her husband, but they didn't know what they were watching at the time.  They live near the Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Training Center in Twentynine Palms and captured the sight on .

Local law enforcement agencies also received numerous calls from people reporting the missile launch.

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