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Contrails form from the exhaust of jet engines condensing to water-ice. Has this ever happened at low altitudes, especially during or immediately after takeoff?

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This is entirely possible if it's cold enough and has also happened. Here's a video of a Tu-204 taking off from Yakutsk at -45°C.

TU-204 taking off

Source

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    $\begingroup$ That's pretty awesome, reminds me of a rocket plane. So much so in fact, I think it deserves to be the answer. $\endgroup$ – DrZ214 Jan 20 '18 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @DrZ214 Yeah, looks so cool $\endgroup$ – Noah Krasser Jan 20 '18 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ +1, and here's a turboprop. $\endgroup$ – ymb1 Jan 20 '18 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @ymb1 Nice find! $\endgroup$ – Noah Krasser Jan 20 '18 at 16:56
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Photos of this would be very hard to come by, but yes, in an extremely cold environment, say close to the arctic and antarctic regions of the globe where daylight temperatures can be down around -40°F, it is entirely possible for this to happen by the laws of thermodynamics.

The rarity is further exacerbated by the fact that aircraft are difficult to start up at those temperatures, generally grounding operations where surface temperatures reach low enough to form contrails.

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    $\begingroup$ Contrails also form behind piston engines. I used to fly Cessna 402's in -40C conditions in the Canada and would often see white contrails behind each engine. I also once saw a Cessna 150 doing circuits in -40C conditions and it too had a short contrail behind it. $\endgroup$ – Mike Sowsun Jan 14 '17 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ I can believe it. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Jan 14 '17 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ Here you go: airliners.net/photo/Aeroflot-Russian-Airlines/… $\endgroup$ – Thaumaturgic Jan 15 '17 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Thaumaturgic that may be contrails after all, but the lighting makes it appear like the poor plane has engine fire. $\endgroup$ – DrZ214 Jan 15 '17 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSowsun Did you ever see those contrails during or right after takeoff? Or was it just up high as "normal"? $\endgroup$ – DrZ214 Jan 15 '17 at 20:04

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