My sonic boom ter­ror

RAF jets break sound bar­rier as they’re scram­bled to check on air­liner – and ‘nearly give its pi­lot a heart at­tack’

Scottish Daily Mail - - Life - Daily Mail Re­porter

WHEN home­own­ers were shaken from their slum­bers by an enor­mous bang, they feared it was an ex­plo­sion.

Thou­sands of peo­ple were wo­ken in the early hours yes­ter­day af­ter the bang shook homes, set off car alarms and sparked panic.

But the shat­ter­ing noise was caused by a pair of RAF jets go­ing su­per­sonic af­ter be­ing scram­bled to a jet fly­ing over the coun­try from Is­rael, po­lice said yes­ter­day.

The sonic boom could be heard from Brigh­ton to Cam­bridge, and Hert­ford­shire Fire and Res­cue said it re­ceived a ‘large num­ber’ of calls.

The Typhoon war­planes cre­ated a sonic boom at 4.20am while fly­ing over north Lon­don, Hert­ford­shire and Bed­ford­shire af­ter be­ing scram­bled from RAF Con­ingsby in Lin­colnshire.

Peo­ple in Es­sex, west Lon­don and Steve­nage, Hert­ford­shire, were among those who tweeted to say they had been wo­ken up by the noise. The Typhoons were cleared to go su­per­sonic in the early hours of yes­ter­day to in­ter­cept the Boe­ing 767, which was fly­ing from Tel Aviv to New Hamp­shire in the United States.

The Boe­ing was be­ing flown by Jet Test, an air­craft fer­ry­ing com­pany that trans­ports planes from sell­ers to buy­ers.

Its pi­lot, Steven Gior­dano, said he was shocked to see fighter jets on his wing, telling the BBC: ‘I looked left and about had a heart at­tack when I saw one – so close. We flashed our land­ing lights to ac­knowl­edge and es­tab­lished ra­dio con­tact... with the fight­ers. We were al­ready talk­ing to Lon­don con­trol at that point. They re­mained with us for about five min­utes.’

Mr Gior­dano, a former air­line pi­lot and US Marine Corps re­servist, said it took ten min­utes to re­alise there was an is­sue with his air­craft’s ra­dio, which had ap­par­ently be­gun mal­func­tion­ing over Ger­many. It then took an­other ten min­utes to re­solve the prob­lem.

He praised the speed with which the RAF scram­bled, ad­ding: ‘I ap­plaud them for that.’

Scot­land Yard later as­sured home­own­ers that there was ‘no cause for con­cern’.

An RAF spokesman said: ‘Typhoon air­craft were scram­bled as part of Quick Re­ac­tion Alert pro­ce­dures af­ter an air­craft lost com­mu­ni­ca­tions in UK airspace. The air­craft was in­ter­cepted and its com­mu­ni­ca­tions were re-es­tab­lished.’

Depend­ing on a jet’s al­ti­tude, the sonic boom it cre­ates will be heard at ground level be­tween two and 60 sec­onds af­ter it breaks the speed of sound.

The dis­tance the boom can be heard equates to around one mile for ev­ery 1,000 feet of al­ti­tude. So the boom from a su­per­sonic air­craft at an al­ti­tude of 30,000ft would be heard 30 miles away at ground level.

‘Just been wo­ken by an ex­plo­sion’

Flight fright: Pi­lot Steven Gior­dano was de­liv­er­ing the Boe­ing 767

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