[meteorite-list] Re: Suspected Sonic Boom Heard Over England

From: Robert Verish <bolidechaser_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue Nov 9 17:03:45 2004
Message-ID: <20041109220344.642.qmail_at_web51702.mail.yahoo.com>

Yes Sterling,

I agree with you. "Sonic booms" are more often than
not produced by man-made causes, no matter how much
the aviation authorities deny that there were no
aircraft in the area.

And thanks for pointing out all the misconceptions in
this article. But I think the most glaring omission
was that there was not one mention of bolides as a
possible cause for "sonic booms".

Bob V.


Date: Mon, 08 Nov 2004 23:23:58 -0600
From: "Sterling K. Webb" <kelly_at_bhil.com>
To: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Suspected Sonic Boom
Heard Over England

Hi, All,

    One of many "sonic boom" reports. Some things to
bear in mind.
    National air forces always deny immediately that
one of their planes are responsible. Notice that in
this story that the RAF is "investigating," but have
already denied it was a military plane. What, then,
are they investigating?
    They do so because pilots are not supposed to pop
the "sound barrier" over the civilians and we all know
pilots never do anything they're not supposed to,
right? As was said in the story, "There are
regulations governing supersonic flight..." And
regulations are never broken!
    Some years ago, I spent a lot of time
investigating a "sonic boom"
in my region that was felt over an eighty mile area, a
substantial event that broke some windows over a
thirty mile wide area. Really big boom. Could well
have been a meteor.
    After about a week of military denials, it turned
out that it had been a test flight of a new plane with
an enthusiastic test pilot from the plane's
manufacturer. He hadn't reported violating flight
regulations, of course, until the story wouldn't go
    As for "civilian" planes being incapable of
causing sonic booms, that too is a myth. They are
perfectly capable of doing so, but are not supposed
to, an entirely different matter. In times past, all
large planes were designed with the possible
conversion to military use in mind. Many commercial
planes in use today could easily go supersonic, but
would the pilot and crew want to badly dent their
careers by admitting that it had happened, even
accidentally? (It's easier than you think...)
    An uncle of mine, a private corporate pilot, took
delivery of a brand new Boeing 707 back when that
plane was the very latest craft (1960). As it was to
be a cargo carrier, it had no seating and no "creature
comforts." It was a bare stripped-down shell, all
engines and fuel tanks.
    After having shaken down the ship flying from
Seattle to New York, he refuelled and set out to fly
from New York to Saudi Arabia non-stop, a long and
tedious trip which he enlivened by travelling at a
speed comfortable for the vehicle in this
configuration. Almost all of his route was over
ocean, except for crossing Italy, but then Italy is
rather narrow and he thought it wouldn't really be a
    He was quite surprised when what seemed to be the
entire Italian air defense force was scrambled to
intercept him as he passed south of Rome at 1120 mph.
A lot of explaining to do. It seems they thought he
might be a Russian bomber. A silly notion, as the
Russians in 1960 didn't have any plane that large that
could fly that fast.
    Then, there are the cases of the many sightings of
a hypersonic experimental craft for more than a decade
and whose existence is still thoroughly denied.
But it's been seen, often over the North Atlantic, so
many times and with such agreement in detail that you
can go and buy a plastic model of this airplane that
"doesn't exist." A vehicle travelling at speeds of up
to 5000 mph creates a sonic boom that carries for many
hundreds of miles and whose extent and persistence
is very hard to predict accurately.
    If only every sonic boom was a meteor about to
deposit a fresh fall... But it ain't necessarily so.

Sterling K. Webb

Ron Baalke wrote:


UFO boom - Unidentified Foreign Object
EDP24 (United Kingdom)
November 8, 2004

A suspected sonic boom heard across north-east Norfolk
today was not caused by a British aircraft, it was
confirmed tonight.

The loud bang, heard at least from Sheringham to
Halvergate near Yarmouth, startled hundreds of people
going about their daily business at around noon.

But a Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was not a
domestic fighter that caused the incident, although he
was unable to confirm the source of the sonic boom.

"We believe there was a sonic boom, but it was not a
British aircraft that caused it," said Lt Col Stuart
Green. "t was not one of ours."

Whether the aircraft was European or American was not
clear, but they would be the most likely suspects. But
it would have been a military aircraft, as no civilian
plane is capable of going fast enough to make a sonic

A spokesman for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said
the now out of service Concorde was the only civilian
craft that had ever been able to travel fast enough to
create the phenomenon.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb described how he had been
sitting in his office in North Walsham when he heard
an "incredible boom".

"The building shook and like many people I was
shocked. I thought 'has there been some sort of gas

Mr Lamb said he felt the "disturbing" incident begged
questions that needed to be answered. He pledged to
approach ministers for an explanation.

Ben Dunnell, assistant editor of Aircraft Illustrated
and formerly from Norfolk, said sonic booms were rare
in the UK. "There are regulations governing supersonic
flight, but it is not clear what happened on this

When the sonic boom was heard, windows and homes shook
while some people were reported to have been running
for cover.

"I heard this enormous explosion," said John Hilton,
who was in Stalham at the time. One or two people were
very worried, although most realised fairly quickly
what it probably was. But I don't feel things like
this should be happening."

Police and RAF bosses received scores of calls from
those concerned at the explosion.

A sonic boom is a loud noise generated when an
aeroplane travels faster than sound waves, which move
at approximately 750mph at sea level.
Pressure waves merge to form shock waves, which are
heard as sonic booms when they hit the ground.

Although there has been no official confirmation of
the noise being a sonic boom, a spokesman at RAF
Coltishall said there had been an assumption it was.
He added that the Ministry of Defence in London was
handling the investigation into the incident.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk police said it was possible
the noise was a sonic boom and that the investigation
was in the hands of the RAF.

The noise was heard in Overstrand momentarily before
it was heard in Cromer, suggesting it came from an
aircraft travelling east to west.
Received on Tue 09 Nov 2004 05:03:44 PM PST

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