Another loud boom here most likely caused by F-15 ‘acceptance flight’
Another extra-loud boom rattled dishes – and Ozarks residents – on Wednesday, June 6. The Ozark County Sheriff’s Office reported several calls from people who were puzzled by the sudden, super-loud clap of thunder, and similar calls reportedly poured into other area law enforcement offices and also the National Weather Service.
Springfield News-Leader reporter Wes Johnson wrote that he contacted Steve Gleghorn, Howell County’s 911 administrator, who told him a police officer there “saw two short contrails northwest of West Plains but never saw an airplane.” Then it went “Boom!” the officer said, adding, “it scared the hell out of me.”
Meteorologist Mike Griffin at the Springfield office of the National Weather Service told Johnson that, to create a boom heard in such a wide area, “the boom must have occurred very high in the atmosphere, higher than military planes normally fly ... like 100,000 feet or more.”
Griffin mentioned the possibility that the boom might have been caused by a meteor “burning up in the atmosphere.”
Ozark Radio News reported on its website that the calls came from an area “as far south as Pocahontas, Ark. to as far west as Gainesville and as far east as Summerville, and north to Salem, Mo.”
As the Ozark County Times did the last time a similar loud boom was heard here on March 8, ORN staffers called Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster and Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas “to see if there were military exercises in the area at that time.”
The answer at both bases was no, but a Little Rock officer said that “testing may have been done at Fort Chafee as part of an annual training regimen.” ORN called Fort Chaffee for confirmation but didn’t say whether anyone there responded.
Next, ORN also called aircraft manufacturer Boeing in St. Louis to ask about possible testing. Boeing spokeswoman Shaniqua Manning Muhammad told ORN “the company did conduct an acceptance flight for an F-15 jet in that area Wednesday afternoon,” ORN reported, adding that “acceptance flights are test flights typically conducted by the customer after the purchase of an aircraft.”
Given the “quick facts” listed for the F-15 Eagle on the Boeing.com website, it seems likely that the “acceptance flight” caused the boom. The military jet’s maximum speed is listed as 2.5 Mach and its maximum ceiling is 70,000 feet.
It’s just speculation, of course, but it’s also easy to imagine a cocky military customer climbing into aircraft and saying, “Show me what you got” – with no thought to the dishes rattling in cabinets and the hearts lurching in chests down below in the Ozarks.