The sonic boom that people from South Jersey to Connecticut thought was an earthquake on Thursday occurred during U.S. Navy test flights and manuevers by F-35 strike fighters, the government said.
Aircraft from Naval Air Station in Patuxent River "were conducting routine flight testing in the Atlantic Test Ranges [Thursday] afternoon that included activities which may have resulted in sonic booms," the 177th Fighter Wing in Egg Harbor Township reported.
Objects traveling through the air faster than the 768 mph compress sound waves that cause explosion-like sounds and rumblings when they can't disperse fast enough.
The F-35C being flown Thursday -- known as the Joint Strike Fighter -- have a top speed of 1,200 miles an hour.
The supersonic test flights are conducted almost daily and most of the booms are never felt -- unless certain atmospheric conditions exist, the release issued by the Fighter Wing said.
"The test wing is critical to the safe test and evaluation of all types of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft in service and in development," it said.
The Naval Air Station in Patuxent has a "Noise Disturbance Hotline" for people who have questions about the operations.
It is staffed by a station representative Monday through Friday during normal business hours. After hours and on weekends, the hotline is transferred to a recording in which callers are instructed to leave their name, contact information, and description and location of the disturbance.
A representative from NAS Patuxent River begins investigating reported noise events within one business day and follows up with callers as soon as possible.
The number: 1-866-819-9028
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