What caused the sonic boom that unnerved New Yorkers from Queens to Valley Stream on Wednesday might forever remain a mystery, but NYPD officials definitely attributed them to the wrong type of fighter jets, an Air Force spokesman said Thursday.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command and First Air Force confirmed there were F-15s in the area to enforce temporary flight restrictions put in place for this week’s UN General Assembly, an Air Force spokesman said. The NYPD on Wednesday said the sonic booms came from F-22s.
The F-15s are capable of producing near-deafening sonic booms.
However, “We haven’t been able to confirm they were flying low enough or creating that sound,” the spokesman said.
The timing of the sonic boom, just a few days after the Chelsea bomber struck, heightened its impact, ear witnesses said.
Sonic booms can register at close to 200 decibels, making them nearly twice as loud as thunderclaps. They are caused by shock waves produced when an aircraft exceeds the speed of sound, which is 761.2 mph. But the higher up an aircraft is, the less intense its sonic boom would be, according to the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s website.
The F-15 fighter, christened the Eagle in 1972, was “the first U.S. fighter with enough thrust to accelerate vertically, according to Boeing Co.
The much more expensive F-22, designed to replace the F-15, entered service in 2005, Boeing said.