A “sonic boom” that rattled windows in Medina County last Saturday, September 9 certainly turned some heads. According to Hondo PD Chief Justin Soza, they believe it was a military F-15 that caused the ruckus.
“It was flying so fast that it broke the sound barrier,” Chief Soza said. “It’s basically like an explosion in the air. It is illegal in the US.”
“It shook people’s windows, and it really scared people. I know there were people inside Walmart that just came to a stop. But you could hear the second boom, and that’s how you know it’s a sonic boom. Dispatch definitely got a lot of phone calls.”
Rachel Binger Mason of Hondo stated, “It shook my house on CR 543 (about 10 miles from downtown Hondo). All of the horses took off running. It was a lot louder than thunder. It sounded and felt like it was underground.”
According to the Air Force, a sonic boom is “caused by an object moving faster than sound — about 750 miles per hour at sea level.”
The boom brought back memories for one local resident, who went to school here back in the 60’s.
“My mother remembered that when she was a student at Lacy school over 60 years ago in Hondo, this was a common occurrence,” said Xochitl De Avila, sharing her mother’s story. “During the Cuban missile crisis, the military would test their planes in the Hondo area and break the sound barrier. She said the old school would shake and pieces of the ceiling would fall over them as they sheltered under their desks.”
It has since been outlawed, but it can happen on accident. However, as a recent article in the Air Force Times, reported that the governing authority of airspace, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) can allow aircraft to break the sound barrier in certain emergency situations or for training in remote locations or over the sea.
For example, such an emergency happened this summer in New York when a pilot of a civilian plane veered off course and six fighter jets flew to intercept it and find out what was going on. They observed the pilot slumped over and escorted it to the site where it eventually crashed.
However, NORAD isn’t required to alert local authorities which “leaves local and federal government agencies, meteorologists, journalists and more to rule out other possible explanations, like routine explosions on a military installation, thunder or an attack.”
There have been no reports of such emergencies in this case however, so it was most likely an accident one local expert stated.