JACKSON — For several weeks, people across southern Ohio, including Jackson County, have been “startled” during the course of the day, by a loud sound leaving many questioning, “what was that?”
Readers have reported hearing the said “noise” followed by their house windows rattling, or photos on the wall, shaking. Some have even described the sound or boom as a “bomb” going off.
These loud noises are nothing new to the area, and many have experienced them over the years. Many know these noises as the sound of freedom, but are technically called “sonic booms.”
The Courier has confirmed that the noise everyone has been hearing is “sonic booms” from jets breaking the sound barrier.
A sonic boom is a thunder-like noise a person on the ground hears when an aircraft or other type of aerospace vehicle flies overhead faster than the speed of sound, or “supersonic.”
Basically, air reacts like fluid to supersonic objects. As those objects travel through the air, molecules are pushed aside with great force and this forms a shock wave, much like a boat creates a wake in the water. The bigger and heavier the aircraft, the more air it displaces.
Senior Airman Kregg York, who’s a Public Affairs Specialist for the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing, told The Courier that the 180th Fighter Wing has been training in southern Ohio for many years now.
“The airspace in that region has been designated as a Military Operated Airspace (MOA) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),” explained York. “This MOA is one of few locations authorized for supersonic flight, chaff/flare, and other various combat-related exercises.”
York added, “This training allows our pilots to be prepared for any situation, supporting our National Defense Strategy at home and overseas. Unfortunately, various environmental conditions can impact the sound.”
The hills of southern Ohio, cloud cover, and changing temperatures, according to York, all have an impact on the amplitude or intensity of the sound.
“The state of the world changes on a daily basis, so our training changes daily, sometimes resulting in different, louder maneuvers than some residents may be used to,” explained York. “For some extra background, the F-16 Fighting Falcon can travel at speeds of over 1,500mph. The speed of sound (Mach 1) is only roughly 761mph at sea level. So, the speed of sound can change based on altitude and temperature.”
The 180th Fighter Wing Ohio Air National Guard is located at the Toledo Express Airport in Northwest Ohio. The base and infrastructure have been designed and constructed to support the current and future fighter aircraft needed for America’s security and defense.