Here Comes The Boom! Navy Doing Supersonic Test Flights

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Residents of communities along the Atlantic coast from Delaware to the Eastern Shore of Virginia are advised that four supersonic flights previously scheduled for April 23-April 27 are scheduled to take place between May 3 and May 11, 2018 within the Atlantic Test Track. These events could generate a loud booming noise that may be heard by nearby residents.

NASA photo of jet in supersonic flight
NASA photo of jet in supersonic flight

NAS Patuxent River is the U.S. Navy’s headquarters for the research, development, test and evaluation of all Navy aircraft, aircraft components and related systems needed to carry out their military mission. Among the tests occurring at NAS Patuxent River are evaluations of jets’ abilities to fly at the speed of sound or “supersonic.”

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The Department of Defense manages a strip of airspace used for military testing that begins approximately three miles offshore, over the Atlantic Ocean. This airspace, called the “Test Track,” is designated for the performance of specific flight tests, including those that require supersonic speeds. Military aircraft from NAS Patuxent River and neighboring military installations visit the Test Track to fly supersonic on a routine basis. The area is located offshore, as to avoid overflight of populated land areas, but close enough for the safety of the aircraft and pilots, and to conserve on jet fuel to and from the test area. Although most sonic booms generated in this area are never felt or heard on land, occasionally a sonic boom will be felt or heard due to weather conditions or the details of the test flight.

As with all operations, NAS Patuxent River takes precautions to lessen the impact of testing activities on the community. For more information, call the toll-free noise hotline at 1-866-819-9028.

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