Navy: Fighter Jets Caused Sonic Booms Along Jersey Coast

HAMMONTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) –   Sonic booms heard and felt in Atlantic, Cape May, Ocean and Camden counties was caused by military fighter jets conducting tests.

Military officials tell Eyewitness News an F-35C and an F-18 jet were conducting routine test flights from the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River Thursday afternoon.

The booms started just before 1:30 p.m. and lasted about 90 minutes. They caused a series of 911 calls throughout Jersey shore communities.

“The blinds, everything started shaking in the office,” Tommy Eppler, of Hammonton, told Eyewitness News.

The U.S. Geological Survey centered the booms over Hammonton.  At the Silver Coin Diner, it had everyone talking and at first, some thought it was an earthquake.

“I looked right at the clock. It kinda scared me, like the house rattled, all the windows rattled. The whole house shook,” Kathleen Pettingall, who heard the sonic boom, said.

File image of F-35C jet (photo credit U.S. Navy)

An F-35C, which has a top speed of nearly 1,200 mph, and the F-18 were conducting supersonic testing off the coast Thursday afternoon. (photo credit U.S. Navy)

Residents reported hearing loud booms and feeling the ground and buildings shake from New Jersey to Long Island.  The booms were heard as far away as Connecticut.  Navy spokeswoman Connie Hempel said supersonic tests flights are done almost daily in the same area, but that most sonic booms aren’t felt on land. They are conducted offshore in an area called the Test Track, parallel to the coast of the Delmarva Peninsula which is occupied by Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Certain atmospheric conditions can increase the chance of hearing the booms.

A geophysicist with the U.S.G.S. said there were nine total booms.

The Department of Defense employs a hotline for noise disturbances for the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River. Questions can be referred to 866-819-9028.

(TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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