Norwich sonic boom: RAF confirms jet 'inadvertently' caused bang over city

An RAF Hawk, which will be taking part in an air display over Felixstowe to mark the 70th anniversar

An RAF Hawk like this one caused a sonic boom which was heard by residents of Norwich and the surrounding areas on Wednesday. - Credit: Simon Parker

The sonic boom heard over Norwich, Wymondham and the surrounding areas on Wednesday was 'inadvertently' caused by an RAF jet, it has been confirmed.

The loud bang was heard over the city shortly before midday, causing scores of people to speculate the cause.

Many people felt vibrations as the noise was heard, with some saying it felt like an explosion or an earthquake.

But there were a number of military aircraft spotted over Norfolk on radar apps such as FlightRadar24, causing most to speculate that it had been a sonic boom from a jet.

The RAF has confirmed this was the case, and said that it had been caused accidentally by one of its jets.

A spokesperson said: "The sonic boom heard in East Anglia was inadvertently caused by a RAF Hawk aircraft completing a high speed dive as part of an air test schedule.

"Any inconvenience caused to local residents is regretted."

RAF Hawk.

An RAF Hawk like this one caused a sonic boom which was heard by residents of Norwich and the surrounding areas on Wednesday. - Credit: Steve Lynes/Flickr

Most Read

RAF jets don't often break the speed barrier over populated areas, and are only ever permitted to do so if given prior authorisation and in extreme circumstances.

People from many different areas of the city and its suburbs said they had heard the sonic boom, with reports from residents in Hellesdon, Costessey, Bowthorpe, Taverham and Thorpe Marriott, as well as some people in Wymondham.

Emma Lewis-Garland, from south Norwich, said: "Doors and windows shook and the neighbours heard it too. Very loud, weird explosion noise."

Ian Goodson, who lives in Taverham, said the noise sounded like "a sonic boom or earthquake".

RAF Hawk. 

An RAF Hawk like this one caused a sonic boom which was heard by residents of Norwich and the surrounding areas on Wednesday. - Credit: Mrs Airwolfhound/Flickr

"It was a large vibration, and dull bang with all the windows shaking in the house", he added.

Writer James Lowen took to Twitter after hearing the loud bang which "sent c500 woodpigeons into the air above our house".

Another Twitter user said it had affected wildlife where he was, adding: "You suddenly realise how many woodpigeons are in gardens and area around you when a presumed sonic boom sends every last one into the air.

"Hundreds up in immediate vicinity of my house too."

And one Hellesdon resident said: "It shook my bungalow. I rushed out to check the roof and everywhere."

What is a sonic boom?

Sonic booms are caused whenever an object, such as a jet plane, travels through the air faster than the speed of sound.

RAF Hawk. 

An RAF Hawk like this one caused a sonic boom which was heard by residents of Norwich and the surrounding areas on Wednesday. - Credit: Alan Wilson/Flickr

The huge amount of sound energy generated means the phenomenon can often sound like a thunder clap or an explosion to those in the vicinity.

These sonic booms from jet aircraft can be very loud and, in some extreme scenarios, have been known to cause damage to buildings and break windows.

This is why those flying aircraft with supersonic capability, such as Hawk and Typhoon jets, are only ever allowed to break the sound barrier in exceptional circumstances.

They don't happen often, but there have been examples in Norfolk before, such as one in 2017 when RAF Typhoons were scrambled to help a Ryanair passenger plane.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus