Image circulating via social media and email depicts uniformed pilots marching with picture placards supposedly showing chemtrails.
The image has been digitally altered. The original photograph shows airline pilots marching in a September 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest. The signs held by the pilots have been changed in the fake picture to show “chemtrails” rather than the original protest messages about pilot pay and working conditions.
This image depicts a large group of airline pilots marching in full uniform at an unidentified street protest. Each pilot in the picture is holding a placard that features a photograph apparently meant to illustrate “chemtrails” in the sky. The scene depicted in the image implies that the pilots are protesting against these supposed “chemtrails”.
The picture shows a real protest along with real marching pilots. However, they are certainly not protesting “chemtrails” nor in any way endorsing the absurd conspiracy theories surrounding the supposed existence and causes of such chemtrails. In fact, as the following source image illustrates, the pilots were protesting much more down-to-earth issues such as pilot pay and working conditions.
A September 29, 2011 Forbes article about the protest notes:
Hundreds of uniformed pilots, standing in stark contrast to the youthful Occupy Wall Street protesters, staged their own protest outside of Wall Street over the past couple of days, holding signs with the picture of the Hudson river crash asking “What’s a Pilot Worth” and others declaring “Management is Destroying Our Airline.” This comes after pilots at United asked a federal judge to halt the merger with Continental, arguing that the whole thing is proceeding too quickly.
The original picture can be seen in a 28 September 2011 Daily Mail article along with the following caption
United: Over 700 Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from other Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, demonstrate in front of Wall Street on Tuesday
The altered picture apparently originated from image website Dees Illustration Studio, which features a Political Satire section that hosts a number of similarly altered images, including other chemtrail pictures. It is unclear how or by whose hand the image escaped from this original context and began circulating online.
Some readers might be wondering what the supposed “chemtrails” shown on the fake placards actually are. According to various paranoid conspiracy theorists, chemtrails are visible evidence that governments or big companies are secretly and deliberately dumping poisons into the earth’s atmosphere for their own nefarious purposes. Some theorists claim the poisons are dumped to make sure that citizens are chronically ill and therefore more easily controlled by governments or more likely to have need of expensive pharmaceutical products. Other suggest that the chem dumping is a clandestine operation to delay global warming. Several other, equally wacky, conspiracy theories have been suggested as possible causes of the trails.
In reality, the supposed chemtrails are just contrails. Contrails are condensation trails that form behind jet aircraft when they burn fuel in the upper troposphere. An in-depth discussion of chemtrail conspiracy theories is available on the Skeptic’s Dictionary website.