Mystery boom explained
The boom that rattled Tucson? It came from an Air Force F-16 based near Phoenix Video by kgun9.comvideo
Instruments usually used to analyze earthquakes caught a profile of the vibrations from the boom
Last April a F-16 practicing for the Davis Monthan Air Show slipped over the sound barrier. The boom broke glass in midtown Tucson.
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Mystery solved.
The boom that rattled windows and nerves in a wide swath of Pima County Wednesday night was a sonic boom from a plane based at Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix.
What was that? That's what thousands of Tucsonans have been asking since something created a huge boom last night. It rattled windows and rattled nerves.
In the clear light of day the boom that shook the night is a booming topic of conversation.
Denise Carrillo did not hear it. And she feels left out.
"I heard about it on Facebook and then last night on the news. Why didn't I get to hear this I missed it. People's houses shook. I didn't hear anything. I didn't feel anything."
Susan Beck did hear it.
"We heard a big thud and shudder and the windows shook."
But she can do more than say, "what was that?" She's a professor in U of A Geosciences department so she can check it out on the seismograph normally used to measure earthquakes.
KGUN 9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "The usual suspects on this sort of thing would be supersonic aircraft blasting at the mines. What does this tell you about where it may have come from?"
Professor Beck: "It tells me it was probably close by but it definitely was not an earthquake. Earthquakes have a very different signal than this."
From the seismograph reading she could not say for sure if the noise was a sonic boom but could conclude the sound probably formed in the air and was not vibrations the seismograph picked up from the ground.
There was a lot of glass damage in Tucson last April when a pilot practicing for the Davis Monthan airshow pushed a little too hard.
Compare the reading for Wednesday night to the reading from last year's sonic boom and Susan Beck sees some similarities.
At the time we talked with Professor Beck, we had checked with everyone who flies supersonic aircraft in Arizona, including Luke Air Force Base and the Marine Air Station in Yuma.
Craig Smith asked Beck: "Is it possible if no one owns up to this we may never know?"
Beck: "I suspect that's the case. With one record it woe be hard to figure out the source. If it was recorded on multiple seismic stations then it's possible to figure out the direction it's coming from."
Now we do know Luke Air Force Base has conceded one of its pilots broke the sound barrier near Sells and Kitt Peak but a base spokesman says the pilot was in an area and at an altitude where flying supersonic is permissible. Generally flying supersonic is only permitted in military air space or over open ocean.