Eight sonic booms over Wales in five years

F-15E Strike Eagle jet Image copyright AP
Image caption F-15E jets had been training over the Aberystwyth coast when a sonic boom was heard in March

Windows broke, a greenhouse was damaged and a supermarket closed after ceiling tiles fell following a sonic boom from a fighter jet.

Nearly half the booms recorded in the UK in the last five years were above Wales with the most dramatic making a "hellish noise" over Aberystwyth.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) data lists 16 incidents across the UK between May 2009 and June 2014.

Eight were over Ceredigion, Powys or Anglesey.

A sonic boom is created as an aircraft breaks the sound barrier.

The boom is a shockwave caused when an aircraft accelerates through the speed of sound (761 mph/1,225 kmh at sea level and an air temp of 15C).

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDr Chris North from Cardiff University says sonic booms can be more alarming than dangerous

It can be destructive when it reaches the ground, causing damage to buildings.

Following the retirement of Concorde in 2003, only some military fast jets and missiles are capable of supersonic flight.

The figures released by the MoD as a result of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request included the incident in Aberystwyth in March.

The US Air Force (USAF) later apologised, admitting that an F-15E Eagle fighter aircraft had been training near the coast when a pilot inadvertently broke the sound barrier.

A Morrisons supermarket closed temporarily when ceiling tiles fell. The FoI data also lists claims for broken windows and a damaged greenhouse.

'An extremely loud bang' - Ceredig Davies, Aberystwyth councillor and shop owner

"It felt like something hitting you in the chest. It was a strange experience. I was walking out of my shop at the time and after the noise - an extremely loud bang - came this rush of air, hitting me in the chest. I thought it must be a plane, I'd heard them in the past but not like that.

"We obviously have no say where the military fly for their exercises but perhaps they should be careful where they put the pedal down.

"Perhaps the pilot didn't really know where he was on this occasion but they should try to avoid built up areas."

Other booms listed include two over Llangeitho, Ceredigion - in April and December 2012.

Military Low Flying Area 7 (LFA7) covers a large area of Wales and is used by the RAF and other air forces, particularly the USAF.

The MoD has received 15 claims for compensation as a result of sonic booms in the last five years and had paid out about £1,800.

The RAF said supersonic training was prohibited overland in the UK for both RAF and USAF fast jet crews.

For most incidents where supersonic booms were heard, they were either sound travelling from aircraft training over the sea, or RAF Quick Reaction Alert aircraft responding to intercept unidentified aircraft.

"It is very rare for accidental supersonic flight during operational training overland and we apologise for any inconvenience caused when this happens," said a spokesman.

Related Topics

More on this story