Sonic booms.

Ever heard (felt) a sonic boom up close and personal? I have.
In the 70s I worked for Rockwell on the B-1 Bomber as an avionics test tech at Arvin, CA. One fine day the test crew came over and gave us a cool little air show, doing aerobatics, etc. At the end they did a high speed, low level overfligh right over the facility and disappeared into the distance. We stood around yakking about when someone yelled "He’s coming back and we all saw it a little higher and faster as it went back the other way. Silently. WTF? Seconds later, WHAM!. I almost made potty in my pants. I wasn’t the only one. Cool! :cool: We talked about that forever.

I think I heard one last week. I was sitting at home and heard a large boom that shook the house. At first my dad and I thought someone had exploded TNT within a couple miles of the house, but then as I checked my facebook page I noticed more and more people had heard it from Mississippi to parts of Alabama. I live close to an Air Force Base so I wonder if that is what it was. My dad said that a long time ago he used to hear them all the time but that now it was illegal (don’t know if that is accurate or not) to be flying over houses breaking the sound barrier.

Kinda cool, huh?
What inspired me to post was this articlal in a newsletter I get.
You can get the straight skinny right there. :wink:
BTW; it is illegal. But you know, homeland security and all that. :rolleyes:

I live in Central Florida, so when the space shuttle lands here there’s almost always a sonic boom. Actually, I think there always is, but I don’t hear it if the shuttle doesn’t fly right over here. It is quite shocking to experience, especially if it wakes you up. The first few times it was scary, but now most of us are used to it and just look at one another and say “space shuttle” when it happens.

I walked up to and touched the Enterprise (space shuttle) at Edwards AFB in California. I went there to do some measurenents on the B-1. It was cool, but I got a dirty look from one of the people responsible for it. I asked a bunch of questions and told him how cool it was, so he friendlied right up. Still didn’t me mess around though. The Enterprise never actually “flew” on it’s own IIRC.
So I went over to the B-1 to do my job. I went into the crew cockpit and got caught by Rockwell’s cheif test pilot. I can’t remember his name. He remembered seeing me back in Arvin, so he showed me around some before kicking my nosy ass out. :wink: All them guys love to talk about their toys. :stuck_out_tongue:
(I did have all the clearences)

I was on the B-1 Flight Test Team at Edwards AFB in the '80s.

Our next-door neighbour worked on the Shuttle for Rockwell in Palmdale. Got to touch one as it was being built.

Doug Benefield?

Yes I have felt and heard a sonic boom. Several times. I live not too far away from an Air Force base and would periodically feel/hear a sonic boom every few months while growing up in the 90s when Stealth Bombers would the big It Thing.

Yes, regularly. I used to live on Concorde’s flight path, near where it would speed up. It would shake the house and leave a sort of thud in your chest. Cool, really!

I could have bumped into you if it was early 80s. And Benefield sounds familiar.
It very well could have been Palmdale. I’m sure the B-1 was there too, late 70s, early 80s? I think the shuttle was in a hangar. They were still messing with those tiles.
The older I get, the more things run together. :smack:
I seem to remember both places being closely tied, with Edwards being larger. Didn’t they have busses running back abd forth? And big signs saying something about "F.O.D.
I need a joint.

I sure wish I could have taken a ride on that thing.

There’s a photo of Benefield on this page. I never met him, but I remember he had a tan Porsche 924. I think it was the day I joined the B-1B team that #159 crashed, killing him. It was a weird feeling driving to the hangar and seeing his car sitting there. I was working for CSC at the time.

I don’t remember when I got the ‘tour’ of the Shuttle. I know I was in high school. I think it was Columbia. I remember being somewhat in awe, as I stood directly abaft one of the main engine nozzles.

I was on the Space Shuttle Support Team for STS-2 through STS-51-C. I heard lots of sonic booms. Extremely minor role, processing rawinsonde data and sending it to JSC. But I got the jacket and the patch. :cool:

The Shuttles were built in Palmdale at Plant 42. Edwards is about 40 miles north and sits on a couple of lakebeds and is much, much larger. I don’t know about buses, as I never worked at Palmdale. I just drove to the base through the West or South gate.

For those who experienced one; could you handle them if they went off at a rate of 5-10 per day? I rather quickly got used to the (subsonic) P3 Orions flying over my then-new house after we moved when I was a kid. Now they have designs on the drawing board which supposedly reduce the decibel level of the boom.

I’ve played with a whip :slight_smile:

I heard one once when under Tonto’s Natural Bridgeand I was more than a little concerned the roof would cave in.

Heard 4 of them on 9/11 as 4 jets took off from one of the bases nearby.

I’ve heard a few and made a few.

Legalities, to answer a question upthread:

In the US, the Fedearl Aviation Administration regulates civil aircarft sonic booms. See and the next couple of entries, plus
If those links don’t work, Google [14 CFR 91.817]

Bottom line: no civilian aircraft may make a sonic boom which is audible at the surface anywhere within the US, except under specfically authorized circumstances like tests.

On the military side, there are surveyed areas out in the boonies where Mach 1+ flight is authorized. Outside of those areas, it’s not permitted. There are exceptions for things like intercepting incoming bombers. But for normal peacetime ops, supersonic flight is pretty tightly limited for the military.

We had a log we had to fill out if we inadvertantly boomed where we shouldn’t have, and you could count on catching hell from your great-grand boss if you did so.
Turning back to the civilian regs … One of the things which is inhibiting research into low- or no-boom supersonic aircraft is the uncertainty about being able to change that one very broad and absolutist regulation. You could spend millions cracking the secret of boomless supersonic flight, only to have the FAA and Congress waste 10 years considering whether to add an exception to the regs that boomless supersonics were OK.

So why is it illegal?

The noise is bothersome. Hearing one is kinda cool, but imagine that every day every couple of minutes all day and all night you heard what sounded like a distant explosion.

Back in the 60s there was a lot of belief that repeated booms would upset livestock, scare people, etc. The development of sorta-practical supersonic aircraft like the Concorde happened to coincide with the beginning of the ecology movement.

The result was one of the few instances of the US getting the regulatory cart in front of the marketplace horse.

The thing to understand is that a supersonic airplane would trail a continuous explosion across the ground maybe 50 miles wide for the entire thousand+ miles from, say, Chicago to LA. Everyone living in that swath of land would get boomed when the plane went by them.

And because of how air traffic is routed along fairly fixed corridors, they’d get boomed again 3 minutes later when the next one went by. And the next one. And the next one.

The assumption back then was that progress would not hit the roadblocks it did in the 70s, and that if unregulated, soon most jetliners would be supersonic and booms would be an everywhere, all the time side effect.

Ever played with a shower faucet? I remember hearing somewhere that the squeal has something to do with the sound barrier. No cites, of course. I think it was on that tv show where these guys go to people’s homes and fix things.
I’ll look it up for a dollar. :wink:

I’m going to dispute that; not because I can prove it or that I even actually know anything about it, but because it ‘just don’t seem right’.

I don’t believe that the water could be accelerated to super-sonic speed through a shower head. Instead, the squeal is caused by the water setting up vibrations within the system, much like when someone plays a flute.

not so out in the boonies for Air National Guard. there are flight areas within 30 miles of small and medium cities where booms can be heard and windows rattle.