Fact Check: Protesting Pilots Are NOT Holding Posters Showing So-Called Chemtrails

Fact Check

  • by: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: Protesting Pilots Are NOT Holding Posters Showing So-Called Chemtrails Photo Altered

Are pilots protesting against planes spreading deadly chemicals in the atmosphere by holding up photos of chemtrails? No, that's not true: The image being distributed on TikTok and other platforms have been digitally altered to replace the original content shown on posters carried by pilots during a protest in New York in 2011.

The claim originated from a TikTok video (archived here) by @andreyadrian665 on June 13, 2023, with a caption reading (translated into English by Lead Stories staff):

Look what we have here...Awakening of conscience. Pilots who refuse to spread the death trails. Global Satanists Exterminated

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-06-19 at 16.02.35.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Jun 19 12:14:32 2023 UTC)

The original image is from a protest on September 27, 2011, in New York by airline pilots against the merger of two U.S. airlines. The pilots were all holding signs about the merger with messages like "What's a pilot worth?" and "Management is destroying our airline."

However, online users digitally altered the image to make it appear the pilots were carrying pictures showing so-called "chemtrails." The image has been recycled by social media users to spread the widely debunked chemtrails conspiracy theory. Lead Stories has shown that "chemtrails" is not a real phenomenon.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:


  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018,  she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.  In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards.

Read more about or contact Ioana Burtea

About us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a U.S. based fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Follow us on social media

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion