2009-11-25 / Front Page

Possible sonic boom disrupts area

By David Hart Irregular Staff

FRANKLIN COUNTY –- One resident said that she thought a tree fell on her house, another thought the front door was kicked open and a third talked about his windows rattling.

Police departments’ and Franklin County dispatchers’ phones lit up last Thursday around 5 p.m. when area residents from Farmington to Kingfield heard a loud explosive sound. It can only be explained as coming from military jets flying overhead.

According to Sheriff Dispatcher Kyle Ellis, who was not working at that time, his fellow dispatchers saw the low flying, very fast moving jets before the explosion or sonic boom occurred.

A sonic boom occurs when an object travels at supersonic speed breaking the sound barrier. These shock waves create tremendous sound energy. For aircraft this means traveling over 761 miles per hour at sea level.

By law you can’t fly at supersonic speed under 30,000 feet. The Condor Military Operation Area does not have Federal Aviation Administration approval to fly at that height explained Major Stephen Lippert of the Air National Guard.

Lippert, who is a contact for a proposal to lower the flight floor in the western mountains, thought it might be the Navy. “I don’t really know who it could be,” he said and provided a phone number for some “unbiased answers.”

Brook Davis, Community Manager for the Eastern Air Defense Sector said, “That’s not cool, I’m going to look into this. EADS controls all airspace in the area and can track exactly who was flying at what time. “We follow rigid steps and procedures to figure out who will take responsibility.”

Major Matt Mutti of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air Force Base said it does not sound like something that they would do. After research, Mutti confirmed that their jets landed back at Barnes AFB at 3:55 p.m. and were flying over the Atlantic off Long Island that day. He suggested calling Burlington ANG or it could be a Marine base which also uses Condor.

Burlington public affair official Lloyd Goodrow, looked into the past schedule and said they did fly that evening, but not in Condor. “We did do a practice scramble using two ships at that time, but not in Condor,” Goodrow said. “I don’t know who it could be.”

Davis said she needed a couple of days to look and track who was flying over Farmington, Kingfield and who was in Condor that early evening.

Some Farmington residents said the some load rumblings occurred before the explosion sound. Lippert said that full afterburner would have to be engaged to travel at that kind of speed.

The Eastern Air Defense Sector has a noise complaint hotline and can be reached at 1-800-223-5612.

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