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Sonic boom rocks New Jersey

The size and location of where the sonic booms originated.

taken from 6ABC News

The size and location of where the sonic booms originated.

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Sonic booms are one of the rare phenomenon’s of the world. Usually they are caused by an aircraft exceeding the speed of the sound barrier, and do not happen often, at least in the United States. The last sonic boom reported was intentionally caused to test this phenomenon back in 2006 by an F-5E fighter, and it was barely able to be considered a sonic boom. Last Thursday, for the first time in 10 years, the United States experienced its next sonic boom along the southern portion of New Jersey.

Several aircraft such as space shuttles and fighters like the SR-71 Blackbird are capable of such a powerful boom, but usually are publicly announced they will most likely occur. Thursday, a sonic boom roared through New Jersey, causing some to think this was a skyquake caused by meteor showers. Some reports even said this might be an earthquake, but this was caused by two US Navy aircraft, the F-35C and F-18.

The quake lasted almost around 90 minutes, and the US Navy reported this could have been caused by maneuvers in the test flights of an F-35C and an F-18. However, the test flights were recorded at 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM, and there were a total of nine separate sonic booms. There have not been this many consecutive sonic booms recorded in one area in a long time, maybe never. Sonic boom reports first started coming in at 1:24 PM, which has caused some people to doubt that the US Navy test flights could have caused this.

Map of where the sonic booms have been reported in Southern New Jersey.

6ABC News
Map of where the sonic booms have been reported in Southern New Jersey.

According to my cousin who worked on fighters like the F-18, this is actually very possible. The initial testing did not start until 1:30, but it is very possible the first tremors of a sonic boom happened earlier as the fighters were getting into flight. “Saying the test flights started at 1:30 doesn’t mean that’s when they get into the air, it means they started actually testing them out.” According to him, the aircraft could have been in the air at around 1:00 and just flying to get them fully ready. This would make sense since the pilots would have to get comfortable and ready for maneuvering in such manners.

Throughout the 90 minutes, the nine sonic booms occurred throughout the southern half of the state along the coast, which is right around the area of the joint Air Force-Navy Air Engineering Station Lakehurst and McGuire Air Force Base. This base is known for its tragic history like the Hindenburg disaster, which took place around 1937. This base is home to about 4 airships, and is used primarily in the testing of aircraft.

According to the USGS, the reason the sonic booms were heard more easily today was because the atmospheric conditions were just right for the sonic booms to be heard and travel at such a distance. To put everything in perspective, the F-35C was traveling at a speed of 1,200 mph. The F-18 travels around a speed of 1,190 mph. Having the two flying together created a large enough frequency to break the sound barrier, causing the nine sonic booms heard throughout the state.

Luckily, there were no casualties in the chaos, but only minor damage in certain homes as seen in one of the videos below.

Will this be the last time we hear of sonic booms in New Jersey? Probably not. But at least now we have some explanation as to why this one happened and why it happened with so much forceThe sonic boom sounded almost like a loud train in the background of the videos provided, and it is hard to tell if it was the sonic boom causing the shaking or the camera handling.

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About the Writer
Bobby Wynn '16, Staff Writer

Elder hockey goalie and fantasy football fanatic. "The only way to do great work is to love what you do."

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Sonic boom rocks New Jersey