Just as some Oklahoma residents might have been getting ready for bed or sitting down in front of a good movie over the weekend, a loud boom rattled them. Days later, an explanation for what shook Rogers County towns still hasn’t come out.
KOTV-TV reported local sheriffs’ offices in the northeastern part of the state said there weren’t any explosions found that could explain the strange boom residents reported between the hours of 8:30 and 9 p.m. Saturday. It was so forceful that it shook windows and rattled doors.
“I was watching TV, you know, and something boomed and it kinda shook the house,” a resident told KOTV.
“I was lying in bed reading and I thought it was thunder,” another resident, Eina Brown, said. “And I asked my husband if it was raining. He said, ‘no, it’s not raining.’”
Others reported it sounding like someone was breaking into their homes.
“I went around to all the doors with a loaded gun and I still don’t know what it was,” another man said.
Watch KOTV’s report with residents talking about what they heard:
The news station reported that the sound could have been a sonic boom. Though civilian aircraft since the 1970s have been banned from creating sonic booms over the United States, the U.S. military’s planes are exempt if they’re more than 10,000 feet high.
A couple bases in the vicinity could fly planes capable of breaking the sound barrier and creating such a noise, but a spokesperson for the 138th Fighter Wing based in Tulsa, Okla., told the news station its aircraft were “put up” over the weekend, usually flying during the business week. Spokespeople for other local bases and the Pentagon told KOTV it wasn’t caused by one of their planes or that they had no way of knowing if it was:
Vance Air Force Base near Enid trains pilots for the U.S. Air Force. It uses T-38 Talons, which are supersonic aircraft. A spokeswoman says none of that base’s jets could have created the sonic boom because the syllabus that the pilots use does not involve breaking the sound barrier.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Air Force Press Desk at the Pentagon says her office has no effective way of learning if the boom was caused by a USAF jet.
Major Natasha Waggoner tells News On 6 it’s Air Force policy not to break the sound barrier below 30,000 feet over land. If a pilot does it accidentally, she says the pilot is required to report it to his or her unit upon landing.
Major Waggoner says it’s possible an Air Force (or other U.S. military) jet flying cross country broke the sound barrier as it crossed over northeastern Oklahoma on what the crew considered a routine flight.
The Air Force does not usually comment on its operations, even if they’re routine, because of security concerns.
Another report by KOTV noted that the mysterious boom occurred ahead of the 50th anniversary of a government study on sonic booms, based in Oklahoma. “Operation Bongo II,” as it was called, was meant to study public perception of sonic booms.
More than 1,200 sonic booms were issued over the Oklahoma City area during a six-month period in 1964, without the public being informed before that this is what they were hearing and feeling, KOTV reported. Overall, the study found 90 percent of people interviewed would likely get used to the booms. Even though more than 12,000 complaints about the noise were filed, the people were said to “generally have a low general complaint potential,” which was probably due to “widespread feelings of futility in complaining.”
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