RAF jets scrambled after ‘sonic boom’ over Leicestershire sparks police calls

A loud explosion sound thought to be a sonic boom was heard as RAF jets scrambled to escort a flight to Stanstead Airport after its pilot lost contact.

The loud sound rattled ornaments on mantlepieces across Leicestershire and was also reported across Northamptonshire, Banbury and Oxford.

RAF jets were scrambled to escort a flight to Stanstead Airport after its pilot lost contact.

The plane, heading from Iceland to Nairobi via Southend, successfully landed at the airport at around 12.50pm on Saturday.

Leicestershire Police said it had received “numerous calls” but there was no need for concern.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Lee Shellard, from Syston, Leicester, said he was watching TV when he heard the bang.

“It shook ornaments and bits around the house,” he told the BBC.

“But it wasn’t like an earthquake, more like a big lorry had gone past. So we nipped outside to see what had happened and other people were looking out of their windows as well.

“That’s when I went back and checked the CCTV footage.”

On social media, plane spotters suggested the sound may have come from an RAF Typhoon fighter jet.

Luke Springhart, in Oxfordshire, posted: “Random #explosion or #sonicboom in Chipping Norton / Oxfordshire area. Whole place shook. Seems like lots of people around the UK felt it?”

The RAF’s Airbus Voyager, the air force’s only in-flight refuelling plane, was being tracked by at least 1,440 people on Flightradar24 – a site that tracks aircraft in real time.

A spokesman for Essex Police, said: “A flight has been diverted to Stansted Airport after communications with the pilot had been lost.

“The plane was escorted to the airport by RAF jets and landed shortly before 12.50pm today (Saturday, 4 March).

“Officers are engaging with the pilot and enquiries are ongoing.”

A statement published by Leicestershire Police said: “We have received numerous calls in relation to a large explosion sound heard from various parts of the city and county.

“We like to reassure you that there is no concern however thank you for your immediate response to us.”

The MoD was contacted for comment.

A sonic boom is caused when planes fly faster than the speed of sound, which at ground level is around 761mph.

When travelling at this speed, also known as Mach 1, the aircraft displaces the air and creates pressure waves that become compressed and then released in a shock wave.

As long as the aircraft is flying at Mach 1 it will generate continuous sound waves, known as a boom carpet.

An aircraft flying at 20,000 feet would create a sonic boom cone 20 miles wide.