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Sonic boom heard after RAF Typhoon fighter jets scrambled to intercept unresponsive private plane

Ross McGuinness
·3-min read

Watch: Sonic boom heard as RAF jets scrambled near London

A sonic boom was heard from the skies above England on Tuesday after two RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a private plane that had lost communications.

Residents in Cambridge and London said they heard the huge bang above them, as some people reported the windows of their homes rattling.

The RAF later confirmed that two Typhoon jets had taken off from their base in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, after a civilian aircraft travelling from Germany lost communication with air traffic control.

An RAF Typhoon jet takes off during a visit by the Duke of Cambridge to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
A sonic boom caused by RAF Typhoon jets was heard above London and Cambridge on Tuesday. (PA)

The private plane was diverted by the fighter jets to Stansted Airport near London after its communications were restored.

A similar incident occurred in December 2019, when two Typhoon jets caused a “loud bang” above London and Hertfordshire.

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In a tweet, Cambridge City Council said: “If you heard a massively loud bang over Cambridge in the last few minutes, don't panic.

“Apparently it was the sonic boom from a fighter plane breaking the sound barrier!”

Two RAF Typhoons perform a flypast over The Titanic slipway in Belfast, to thank Second World War Veterans and to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday May 8, 2020. See PA story MEMORIAL VE. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Two RAF Typhoon jets perform a flypast in Belfast to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day last May. (PA)

A sonic boom is the piercing sound associated with the shock waves created when an object travels through the air faster than the speed of sound.

Twitter user Alistair Broomhead, from east London, wrote: “Just heard a loud boom in E12, windows rattled, sounded like an explosion, anyone else in London hear anything? Know what's going on?”

Another user, John Walsh, said: "Sonic boom just now over Cambridge! Blew my window off its casement stay and scared the bloomin' life out of me and the several pigeons outside!"

Emma Boswell tweeted: “I was walking through Waltham Abbey when I heard it.

“Honestly thought a bomb went off but yeah it was a sonic boom in Cambridge!”

An RAF spokesman told Yahoo News UK: “The RAF can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this afternoon from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft that had lost communications.

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“Subsequently, communications were re-established, the aircraft was intercepted and safely escorted to Stansted.

“The Typhoon aircraft were authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons.”

Watch: Prince William admires Typhoons during RAF base visit