Sonic Boom Shakes Utahns

Sonic Boom Shakes Utahns

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John Hollenhorst ReportingPeople all over Northern Utah heard or felt a big noise and a big shake last night around 9:00. Today the Air Force fessed up; it was caused by one of their pilots who made a slight mistake.

The mysterious noise shook people out of their complacency all over the Salt Lake Valley and far beyond. They even felt it in Davis County.

Marc Earnhardt, Layton: "Some shaking of the windows. The house actually shook, and a couple of loud booms, I believe at least two."

Eva Jensen felt it in West Jordan.

Eva Jensen, West Jordan: "Everything started jiggling. And my husband was next to me and we glanced at each other and said, 'Could that be an earthquake?' "

Well, it wasn't. It was a sonic boom from an F-16. Six F-16's were practicing combat maneuvers west of the Great Salt Lake.

Lt. Col Alfred Hawley, Hill Air Force Base: “All six of those airplanes actually went supersonic last night, which is normal during intercept training."

In that area, planes flying faster than the speed of sound are supposed to stay above 30,000 feet.

Lt. Col Alfred Hawley, Hill Air Force Base: "And in fact we had one pilot who was below 30,000 feet and went supersonic. But barely supersonic."

Ordinarily it’s no big deal, but atmospheric conditions caused the sonic boom shock wave to travel 50 to 100 miles, an extremely unusual event.

Lt. Col Alfred Hawley, Hill Air Force Base: "The sonic boom can get trapped between the ground and the clouds and travel further."

The Air Force says the pilot wasn't hot-dogging or showing off. He was just doing normal training and made a little mistake.

Lt. Col Alfred Hawley, Hill Air Force Base: "But there will be corrective action taken to prevent it from happening again."

The sonic boom may have gotten an additional boost from cold air, which boosts jet performance and makes shock waves travel further. No damages from the sonic boom have been reported.

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