Sonic boom heard in Cambridgeshire and Essex

  • What is a sonic boom? ITV Weather's Chris Page explains what causes it


A sonic boom was heard across eastern England on Tuesday afternoon after two RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a private plane.

The plane had lost communications and had to be escorted to Stansted Airport.

Dozens of people took to social media to say they heard what sounded like a ‘sonic boom’ at around 1pm on Tuesday 12 January. 

The RAF can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this afternoon from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft that had lost communications; subsequently, communications were re-established, the aircraft was intercepted and safely escorted to Stansted. The Typhoon aircraft were authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons.

RAF spokesman

Cambridgeshire County Council asked people not to panic.

A sonic boom is caused when a plane breaks the sound barrier. RAF Typhoons are authorised to go supersonic if operationally required.

It is not the first time residents in East Anglia have heard a similar sound, in 2017 dash cam footage caught a fighter jet flying near Stansted Airport and in the same year officers in Suffolk were 'inundated' with calls after a jet broke the sound barrier.

  • Hear the boom:

An RAF spokesperson said: “The RAF can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this afternoon from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft that had lost communications; subsequently, communications were re-established, the aircraft was intercepted and safely escorted to Stansted.

“The Typhoon aircraft were authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons.”

The jets are often deployed to escort aircraft that lose contact with air traffic control or don’t respond to communications.

Some people on social media reported hearing it as far away as in London.