Residents of Houston County in Georga, United States, claim that the flypast of a US Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter jet caused damage to their houses.
The flyover from Robins Air Force Base (WRB), southeastern Georgia, was organized during a Little League baseball tournament in the nearby city of Warner Robins on August 3, 2022.
Residents told local media 13WMAZ they heard an aircraft flying unusually low, and a loud detonation that they described as being “like a sonic boom.” Several people reported damage to their houses, including a collapsed ceiling, cracks in the brickwork, and insulation hanging from their porch.
However, Robins Air Force Base Public Affairs Office said the fighter flew at an approved altitude and speed. “The flight did not break the sound barrier, which would cause a sonic boom,” it said in a statement sent to the press.
The airbase did report on its Facebook page that two sonic booms would happen on August 3, 2022. It is unclear, though, whether they were related to the baseball flypast.
AeroTime has reached out to Robins Air Force Base for comment.
Among other aircraft, the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center manages the repair, modification, and overhaul of the USAF F-15 fleet.
The F-15 recently celebrated 50 years of operations with the USAF. Its multirole strike fighter variant, the F-15E Strike Eagle, is the fastest aircraft of the USAF currently in service, with a top speed of over Mach 2.5 (1,650 miles per hour, 2,656 kilometers per hour) at high altitude.
The need for speed
The US law currently forbids flying over land at a speed superior to Mach 1 (1,234.8 km/h) without a special authorization provided by the FAA. The USAF pledges to avoid overland supersonic flights as much as possible, carrying them out above 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) only when needed, for example, to test the proper functioning of a fighter’s systems.
There are similar rules in place in Europe, although there are certain situations when exemptions are made. In September 2020, in France, the sound caused by a sonic boom briefly interrupted a tennis game at the French Open.
It was later clarified by the French Air Defense Command that a Dassault Rafale fighter taking off from Saint Dizier Air Base, 120 miles (200 kilometers) away, had been authorized to cross the sound barrier in order to intercept an unresponsive civilian aircraft.