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Circular Contrail near Fort Worth, Texas

Circular contrail near Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Circular contrail near Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

It looked like someone was playing celestial tic-tac-toe last week here in north Texas. The first lines I saw in the sky on the morning of April 6, 2012 were some really big X’s. That was around 9:00 a.m. I meant to take a photo of them, but got distracted. (I was at work, so most likely the phone rang and drew me back into the office.)

Around 10:15 a.m. I popped out of the office and noticed a big circular contrail in the sky. This time I snapped a couple of photos with my iPhone camera.

Circular contrail near Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Circular contrail near Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

I zoomed in for the top photo in this post and used a filter to give it more distinction, but the second picture is unfiltered. I also included some scenery so viewers can get a better idea of the size of the circle.

So, what do you think? Was a pilot practicing his skywriting? Have you ever seen an unusual contrail? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays


  1. A. R Brown A. R Brown

    I was going around Carthage Texas this morning , Oct 23 2016 and saw the circular contrails. there were about 5 of them and the plane was making another one. Ray Brown st Joe Ar

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Interesting, A.R.! Was there an airshow going on nearby? Happy Halloween & thanks for dropping by! ~Tui

  2. Have been looking around your blog and really loved this picture of a circular contrail.

  3. Sue Doyle Sue Doyle

    We too saw the donut contrail and only looked in the western sky because the eastern sky had so many contrails in it that we couldn’t count them all!

    In talking with a neighbor about Frozen Planet (we’re fans), she mentioned something about a conspiracy theory about altering weather patterns and said she had seen some strange contrails in the sky recently. Before she could go on, I whipped out my iPhone photos of the “donut” and she said, “That’s it!!”

    If you’d like to see my photos, I even took pics of the eastern sky that morning. Contact me via email and I share. I thought it was the 7th, but you’re right, it was a Friday morning, the 6th.
    Sue Doyle

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Sue,

      Yes – there were sooooo many contrails that morning! I wish I had taken photos of all the ones I saw before the circular one showed up.

      I have heard the, “chem trail,” theory before, but … I also have talked with with pilots I know who assure me that there is no set period for how long a contrail should last. There are many factors involved.

      Still – quite a mysterious sight, I thought!

      Thanks for your comments. I’ll send you an email, too, because I would love to see your photos.


  4. I have my own theory of what they are doing up there but I don’t want to sound like a lunatic. I think the pilots make designs to get our attention to say, “Do you see what is going on up here, pay attention.” because whatever is coming out of the back of the planes that make the designs in the skies aren’t normal. They are doing something but I don’t know what. A normal plane has a trail that lasts only moments behind the plane. These trails last a lot longer and sometimes there are many, many trails up there long after the planes are gone. So what are they doing up there? What are they leaving behind?

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Morgan,

      Interesting theory, indeed!

      I’m highly intrigued by anomalous events, in general, but I also have pilots in my family, so I’ve learned that, “normal,” contrails can last a short or long while depending on many different factors – just like clouds.

      In fact, asking how long a contrail should last is a little like asking, “how long should a cloud last?”

      Still, you raise some interesting ideas!

      Thanks! :)

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