A “hellish noise”: Fighter jets causing sonic booms in the skies above Wales

Windows have been broken. a greenhouse was damaged and a supermarket was forced to close after roof damage following a sonic boom

An aircraft which changed the face of fighter jet design has gone on show at the RAF Museum in Shropshire. The Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP) technology demonstrator, built by the then-British Aerospace company (now BAE Systems) in the 1980s, paved the way for todayÕs Eurofighter Typhoon which is flown by some of the worldÕs leading air forces. It has gone on show to the public for the first time having been donated to the RAF Museum at RAF Cosford, Shropshire, by BAE Systems. Please find attached a full press release on the donation, including quotes from Dave Ward, a former BAE Systems employee who was part of the team which worked on the EAP, and a couple of images of the aircraft in flight and in the museum.

Half of all sonic booms recorded from fighter jets in the UK over the past five years occurred above Wales.

Windows have been broken, a greenhouse was damaged and a supermarket was forced to close after roof damage following a sonic boom.

In the most dramatic case a fighter jet was reported to have made a “hellish noise” over Aberystwyth, according to the BBC.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) data lists 17 incidents across the UK between May 2009 and June 2014. Eight were over Ceredigion, Powys or Anglesey.

A sonic boom is created as an aircraft breaks the sound barrier. The boom is a shockwave caused when an aircraft accelerates through the speed of sound (761 mph/1,225 kmh at sea level and an air temp of 15C).

It can be destructive when it reaches the ground, causing damage to buildings.

Following the retirement of Concorde in 2003, only some military fast jets and missiles are capable of supersonic flight.

The figures released by the MoD as a result of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request included the incident in Aberystwyth in March.

The US Air Force (USAF) later apologised, admitting that an F-15E Eagle fighter aircraft had been training near the coast when a pilot inadvertently broke the sound barrier.

A Morrisons supermarket closed temporarily when ceiling tiles fell. The FoI data also lists claims for broken windows and a damaged greenhouse.

Ceredig Davies, an Aberystwyth councillor and shop owner, described the sonic boom as a strange experience.

“It felt like something hitting you in the chest. It was a strange experience,” he said.

“I was walking out of my shop at the time and after the noise – an extremely loud bang – came this rush of air, hitting me in the chest.

“I thought it must be a plane, I’d heard them in the past but not like that.”

Other booms listed include two over Llangeitho, Ceredigion – in April and December 2012.

Military Low Flying Area 7 (LFA7) covers a large area of Wales and is used by the RAF and other air forces, particularly the USAF.

The MoD has received 15 claims for compensation as a result of sonic booms in the last five years and had paid out £1.8m.

The RAF said supersonic training was prohibited overland in the UK for both RAF and USAF fast jet crews.

For most incidents where supersonic booms were heard, they were either sound travelling from aircraft training over the sea, or RAF Quick Reaction Alert aircraft responding to intercept unidentified aircraft.

“It is very rare for accidental supersonic flight during operational training overland and we apologise for any inconvenience caused when this happens,” a spokesman said.

Sourced from walesonline

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