Damage Control - Mysterious booms, lights over
Indiana were just F-16s
The Associated Press
Fri, 16 Apr 2008 09:29 UTC
INDIANAPOLIS - The commander of an Indiana Air National Guard
unit is investigating why F-16s involved in training exercises
created sonic booms two consecutive nights over north-central
Indiana, shocking residents who also saw dazzling flares used in
the missions. A sonic boom and fireballs and flaming debris that
Kokomo-area residents reported seeing in the sky Wednesday night
prompted Howard County's police agencies to conduct a two-hour
search for what many residents thought was a crashed aircraft.
As it turned out, the fireballs were flares fired by F-16s that
are part of the 122nd Fighter Wing, an Indiana Air National
Guard unit based at Fort Wayne International Airport.
Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry with Indiana National Guard's headquarters
in Indianapolis said the jets taking part in the training are
not supposed to exceed the speed of sound, which is about 760
mph, because supersonic speeds produce sonic booms.
He said the 122nd's commander, Col. Jeff Soldner, will
investigate why at least one jet reached supersonic speeds
Wednesday night over Howard and Tipton counties, and also on
Tuesday night over the Logansport area, shaking the ground
"The sonic boom is not routine.
That was a mistake. That's being investigated right now and
once the wing commander finds out he'll make recommendations
on how to change that so it doesn't happen again," Lowry
He said F-16 training often involves
the aircraft dropping flares from more than 10,000 feet above
the ground, a technique that can allow the jets to evade
heat-seeking missiles in combat.
Lowry said such flares are routinely dropped during the daylight
hours and also at night but they likely would not have attracted
much attention without the accompanying sonic booms. The
investigation will determine how many of the F-16s broke the
sound barrier. Lowry said he did not know how many of the
fighter jets were involved in the training missions.
The jets were training in an area called Hilltop Military
Operations Area that's not designated for supersonic flights.
The training area extends from Grissom Air Reserve Base to West
Lafayette and includes Logansport, 30 miles north of
Indianapolis bordering Kokomo. Police switchboards in Howard and
Tipton counties were inundated by calls after residents saw
bright lights just before a loud sound like a sonic boom
Smith's secretary, Janice Hart, said she was lying on her
bed talking to her niece when a loud explosion rocked her home.
"It just shook my house to its
depths. As soon as it happened, my niece said, 'Oh my God
Aunt Janice, what was that?' I looked out my bedroom window
and my husband went to the front of the house to see what it
was," she said.
Hart, who initially thought an
explosion had rocked a nearby factory, was busy Thursday morning
handling calls about the noise and lights.
"That's all they're talking
about. I had numerous calls asking if it was a sonic boom, a
meteor, even some people joking that it was a UFO," she
Logansport Police Chief A.J.
Rozzi said he heard a loud sonic boom on Tuesday night, and
then heard the sound of a jet high overheard. He said residents
also reported seeing fire streaks in the sky.
He said it is common for the 122nd to conduct missions in the
area and believes F-16 training almost certainly explains the
sights and sounds.
"They've been doing that
training for quite a while. I don't know what maneuvers
they're actually doing, but they do shoot out streaks of
light," he said.
Comment: Jet fighters don't
break the sound barrier by mistake. Is it just a coincidence,
then, that Illinois had a 5.4 magnitude "earthquake" just a day
later during which residents heard a roaring sound?
5.4 earthquake rocks Illinois - felt 350 miles away
Posted by Associated Press
April 18, 2008 5:37 AM
WEST SALEM, Ill. - A 5.4 earthquake
that appeared to rival the strongest recorded in the region
rocked people awake up to 350 miles away early Friday,
surprising residents unaccustomed to such a powerful Midwest
The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered 6 miles from West
Salem, Ill., and 66 miles from Evansville, Ind. It was felt in
such distant cities as Chicago, Cincinnati and Milwaukee, 350
miles north of the epicenter, but there were no early reports of
injuries or significant damage.
"It shook our house where it
woke me up," said David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of
Champaign. "Windows were rattling, and you could hear it.
The house was shaking inches. For people in central
Illinois, this is a big deal. It's not like California."
The quake shook skyscrapers in
Chicago's Loop, 240 miles north of the epicenter, and in
downtown Indianapolis, about 160 miles northeast of it.
Residents of Cincinnati and St. Louis also reported feeling the
Irvetta McMurtry of Cincinnati said she felt the rattling
for up to 20 seconds.
"All of a sudden, I was awakened
by this rumbling shaking," said McMurtry, 43. "My bed is an
older wood frame bed, so the bed started to creak and shake,
and it was almost like somebody was taking my mattress and
moving it back and forth."
Lucas Griswold, a dispatcher
in West Salem, said the Edwards County sheriff's department
received reports of minor damage and no injuries.
"Oh, yeah, I felt it. It was
interesting," Griswold said. "A lot of shaking."
Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt.
Todd Ringle in Evansville said there were no immediate
reports of damage.
The quake occurred in the Illinois basin-Ozark dome region that
covers parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and
Arkansas and stretches from Indianapolis and St. Louis to
Memphis, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The organization's Web site said earthquakes occur irregularly
in the area, and that the largest historical earthquake in the
region - also a magnitude 5.4 - caused damage in southern
Illinois in 1968.
Hunt on for Argentine meteorite
by Patrick J. McDonnell and Andres
D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires
2008 - 6 April - Argentina
The space rock reportedly crashed late Sunday somewhere in Entre
Rios Province, some 260 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, reports
Clarin, which quoted a witness,
Milton Blumhagen, a student and astronomy buff:
"For three or four seconds I saw
an object in flames, changing color until it turned blue
when it approached the ground.''
A fire department source said the
impact was felt for miles around. No damage was reported. The
curious are headed out to the isolated rural zone where the
meteorite, or whatever it was, is believed to have struck.
as this L.A. Times news story recounts,
a meteorite strike near Lake Titicaca caused a regional
sensation: Area residents said they became sick, and meteor
hunters rushed to the site to purchase chunks of space debris,
which can fetch high prices on the international market.
Scientists dismissed any links
between the meteorite and the reported illnesses.