The media in the UK has given a lot of air time or column inches over the last couple of days to a story about a Typhoon fighter aircraft whose sonic boom was heard by a large number of people across England and which, initially, caused a lot of confusion about what it might have been.
The thing that surprised me was why a sonic boom might be so unusual and unfamiliar to people. Surely, I thought, the Royal Air Force has dozens of supersonic aircraft and they must be going supersonic all the time as part of their training regime? But apparently not. The Ministry of Defence says that they need special permission.
So, my questions are, is it really so rare for military aircraft to go supersonic? Or do they merely do it out to sea or at a high altitude where no one can hear them? Are sonic booms more commonly heard in other countries?
I grew up in the Forest of Dean and we would frequently have fighter jets (Tornados and Jaguars, plus also Harriers - although I am aware that the latter are not supersonic) screaming low and loud over our school. Was I hearing a sonic boom then, or just subsonic flight? Is a sonic boom much worse, hence the surprise and confusion across the UK on Thursday?
I'm sure that many BAUTers have the aerospace knowledge to answer me, so thanks in advance for the enlightenment. I hope I am posting these questions in the right place.