Navy Officials Clear up Sonic Boom Concerns - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Navy Officials Clear up Sonic Boom Concerns

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.- Two naval jets flying off the Atlantic coast broke the sound barrier on Thursday, which caused a sonic boom felt by many people along Delmarva's beaches. WBOC visited Naval Air Station Patuxent River to delve deeper into the sonic boom and find out if it could happen again.

An F-18 and F-35 were the two planes over the ocean that caused last week's sonic boom.  Commodore Roger Cordell of Naval Test Wing Atlantic at Pax River, said test flights, which include supersonic flights, happen nearly every day off the coast to ensure the naval equipment can handle it.

"Shock waves still do very odd things to airplanes and the weapons we hang on them so we have to sort all of those things out before we get the aircraft to the fleet," Cordell said.

The testing takes place in a section of the Atlantic called the test track.  The jets will leave Pax River and make their way over Delmarva.  The test track runs from about Ocean City to Wallops Island and can be as close as 3 miles or up to 20 miles from shore. Cordell said that any supersonic testing that takes place only happens in the designated area.

"We are under positive control until we get into the test track. The rules of the road, the rules of the sky don't allow us to go supersonic until we are in the test track," said Cordell.

Capt. Benjamin Shevchuk, who is the commanding officer at Pax River, said it was the conditions of the atmosphere that forced the sonic boom to the coast and was not a pilot deviating from a normal test flight.

"We know that he was in his airspace and they were proceeding on a test that had expected certain outcomes," Shevchuk said. "The noise and reverberation of that is something that came along with that profile. But there hasn't been any corrective action, just a better awareness."

It is an awareness to expect the unexpected and the potential consequences of these flights off the Eastern Shore.  Shevchuk said the sonic boom being felt on the shore on such a wide scale is something he rarely encounters.  And while it can be a frightening experience, the captain said that it is all a result of a very important process.

"To be able to progress through each of those tests on schedule is essential and Pax River and the Eastern Shore and Delmarva Peninsula, they represent really priceless assets to what our nation needs," Shevchuk said.

Community members with concerns about the noise should call the Noise Disturbance Hotline at 866-819-9028.

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