This fact-checking was carried out on the basis of the information available at the date of publication. Read more about how we work here.
Images circulated on Telegram of pilots posing with drug tags with messages such as #TeamChemtrail and ‘Spray and Pray’. Several social media users see the images as proof that ‘chemtrails’ really exist. It’s not true. The pictures are taken out of their humorous context. What some call ‘chemtrails’ are actually contrails from aircraftn.
On August 12, a social media user posted three pictures of airline pilots in a Telegram group (archived here) showing a fabric tag with hashtags on it. #TeamChemtrail and #Sprayandbed (Dutch: Spray and bite). The group has 1200 followers. “Chemtrails Pilots, they’re even proud of it,” reads the caption. “It’s the bastards who pollute our lungs! It’s the bastards who poison nature!’ it continues.
The pictures are also circulating in Facebook groups about chemtrails and beyond Twitter (archived here, here and here).
The Chemtrail theory is a classic among conspiracy theories. The word chemtrail – a contraction of “chemical” and “trail” – represents the white trails seen on clear days when planes fly by. According to conspiracy theorists, chemtrails are toxic fumes emitted over the population by airplanes. Knack previously wrote fact checks about the theory.
Several international scientists disproved the existence of chemtrails.
Do the pictures show real ‘chemtrail pilots’? And do they prove the existence of chemtrails?
We screenshot the images and do a reverse search on Google Images, but only end up with chemtrail websites. If an image is frequently reposted, it is more difficult to find the original via search sites such as Google Images and Yandex. The pilot photos have been circulating on the internet for years. On Tineye, a search engine that looks for the first posting of an image, we see that the images have been circulating since at least 2017 (red frame).
According to a fact check by the French news agency AFP, the images were first published on Team Chemtrail’s website. The website is no longer online, but an archived version of the website can be viewed via the archive website archive.is. The about page shows that the website wants to poke fun at conspiracy theorists.
“We’re excited to bring you the official TeamChemtrail website with the most entertaining pilot products you’ll find. Deep inside Chemworks, we’re constantly working to bring you new and improved ways to enlighten and terrify all conspiracy theorists.” On another archived page of the website, saved on November 13, 2014, we see that the brands were also for sale via the website.
At the beginning of this year, the AFP fact-checkers contacted one of the founders of the German Twitter account @TeamChemtrail, which is unrelated to the TeamChemtrail site, but also mocks the conspiracy theory. The founder of the German account confirmed that the note was originally created by American pilots who wanted to combat the conspiracy theory in a satirical way.
The fabric brands are now also sold on the German website FlugzeugMöbel, a website with aircraft products.
Pictures are circulating online of pilots wearing fabric tags that appear to advertise chemtrails. Some social media users believe the images prove that chemtrails really exist. But that is not true. The fabric tags were first sold on a humorous site and are not proof that chemtrails really exist. We therefore assess this claim as False.
In the article you will find links to all the resources used.
All sources were last consulted on August 22, 2022.