SONIC BOOM: The night Doncaster was shaken by RAF fighter jets

An RAF Typhoon. (Photo: Wikipedia).
An RAF Typhoon. (Photo: Wikipedia).

It was the night Doncaster came together as one, one of those "where were you when you heard the sonic boom?" moments.

Less than 12 hours on, last night's massive sonic booms, heard all across Doncaster, West Yorkshire and beyond are still the talk of the town.

Here's the full story of last night's drama as it unfolded.

Shortly after 9.45pm, people all over Doncaster reported hearing massive "explosions" - with many rushing into the streets and throwing open windows to investigate the noise.

READ MORE: Sonic booms rock Doncaster as military jets intercept airliner
Facebook and Twitter were awash with rumours - terrorist activity, a plane crash at Robin Hood airport, thunderstorms - but many others had heard military jets roaring through the skies and it soon became apparent that the noises were sonic booms, created by two of the RAF's Typhoon fighter jets going supersonic in the skies above South Yorkshire.

The aircraft were scrambled from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to escort a wayward Air France airliner which had failed to maintain the necessary contact en route from Paris to Newcastle Airport.

As the jets raced to intercept the "unresponsive civilian aircraft," houses across Doncaster shook, people were woken and car alarms set off as the deafening booms rumbled through the skies.

The Ministry of Defence later confirmed the loud bangs were sonic booms.

An RAF spokesman said: “Quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft were launched today from RAF Coningsby to identify an unresponsive civilian aircraft. Communications were re-established and the aircraft has been safely landed.”

Air France later confirmed that the unresponsive civilian aircraft was one of its planes.

A spokesman said: “Air France confirms that due to a radio communication problem AF 1558 had to be accompanied by two British fighter aircrafts according to the procedure."

“The aircraft landed in Newcastle at 22.20. Safety of clients & crew is an absolute priority.”

Some reports suggested the plane had flown off course while other said it had lost radio contact for more than seven minutes. Refuelling aircraft from Brize Norton are also understood to have been brought in to back up the operation.

North Yorkshire and South Yorkshire Police earlier tweeted to reassure people there was no danger and other emergency service also fielded calls from worried residents.

In April two bangs heard around Northampton and Brackley were caused by Typhoon jets that had been scrambled from an RAF base in Lincolnshire to identify an unresponsive aircraft.


A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves created by an object travelling through the air faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding much like an explosion.

When an aircraft passes through the air it creates a series of pressure waves in front of it and behind it, similar to the bow and stern waves created by a boat. These waves travel at the speed of sound, and as the speed of the object increases, the waves are forced together, or compressed, because they cannot get out of the way of each other. Eventually they merge into a single shock wave, which travels at the speed of sound, a critical speed known as Mach 1, and is approximately 1,225 km/h (761 mph) at sea level and 20 °C (68 °F).