Sonic Judgment, Posse Comitatus and Public Notice

F-15; U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers

Shortly before 7 pm Friday night many thousands of South Florida residents were startled by a loud noise that shook homes from Weston to Wellington.
West Boca News received dozens of messages, calls, text messages along with hundreds of comments from readers. We were unable to find solid answers for hours.
Some local officials put out short, vague notices. The Broward Sheriff was particularly confusing:

A military event could mean a lot of things – an attack on our country, a coup, a training exercise, etc.
This morning we did find a release from NORAD that seems credible.

A pair of Air Force F-15s … intercepted an unresponsive general aviation aircraft near the Palm Beach, Fla., area at approximately 7 p.m. EST.
The intercept required the Air Force F-15s from Homestead Air National Guard Base to travel at supersonic speeds, a sound noticed by area residents, to get to the general aviation aircraft where they were able to establish communications.

This leaves us with two concerns about the judgment of whoever made the decision to go supersonic.
First, was it necessary and appropriate?

Air Force procedures require that, whenever possible, flights be over open water, above 10,000 feet and no closer than 15 miles from shore. Supersonic operations over land must be conducted above 30,000 feet or, when below 30,000 feet, in specially designated areas approved by Headquarters United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Going supersonic is not something the Air Force is supposed to take lightly. Moreover, military operations within the borders of the United States are supposed to be limited by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
The reports are that the sonic booms started in Weston and continued to somewhere near Boynton Beach or Wellington. That’s in the ballpark of 40 miles. At 750 mph (just below the speed of sound) a plane would travel that distance in just over 3 minutes. At 1500 mph an F15 would get there in half the time. Going supersonic got them there perhaps 90 seconds quicker.
We would like to give the Air Force the benefit of the doubt and hope that yesterday’s decision was correct under the circumstances. But that leads to our second concern.
If they’re going to rattle homes over a 40 mile densely populated stretch, alarming over 100,000 people, they should let us know what happened immediately. We heard numerous reports of distress, including police coming out of their stations with guns drawn, children crying, 911 calls overwhelming the operators, and neighbors rushing outside their homes and getting to know each other.
NORAD should have plans in place to notify local law enforcement and media when this happens. We don’t expect West Boca News to make the list but the local TV stations and major regional newspapers certainly should.

12 thoughts on “Sonic Judgment, Posse Comitatus and Public Notice”

    1. Who was the idiot in the plane that was “unresponsive” — he should be fined at the least for creating a panic situation.

  1. If the need was there then they should fly at whatever speed is necessary. We need to let the military do their jobs and stop being so soft. Nobody was hurt and I felt it also. I just waited for notice of what it was and then was fine. We have become a society of people that expect immediate response to our questions and sometimes that isn’t the case.

    1. Unfortunately, the majority of those complaining about military going supersonic, and describing it as being horrific and causing distress, have probably never actually had to deal with being in actual distress their entire pleasantly coddled life. I would be more than happy to exchange a few rough days I’ve had for a few “stressful” sonic boom events any day of the week and twice on Sunday!

    2. Totally agree. Everyone needs to relax. Stop freaking out over a boom and a rattle. What if it was thunder. God will have to send advance notice and a apology letter? When did we become so stupid?

    3. Finally! Voices of reason. Aren’t Florida’s residents aware that President Trump is in town and that this plane was flying in restricted airspace?

  2. Stop complaining and criticizing people that are trying to save our lives. This article is shameful and lazy journalism at it worst. Our military…They put their lives on the line for you while you snivel. I say let them fly fast and supersonic til the cows come home if that is what they feel is necessary to get the job done. God bless America and ALL of our troops!
    You should be ashamed for taking the attitude you did to this national defense event. You do realize that our military may be aware of threats that you are not. Do you realize that we have had Russian provocations off of our eastern coast for at least a week …

  3. The ignorance of the writer is as expected. A few thoughts for you Sir: 1) The Posse Comitatus Act limits the military’s power to be used to enforce domestic policy. In this case, the military was responding to what it perceived to be a threat. So the act doesn’t really apply here. 2) Fighters don’t just scramble themselves and go flying about looking for poor innocent pilots to harass. These fighters were scrambles by someone who knew something fishy was going on. Air Traffic Control noticed something was wrong with this pilot and notified NORAD. NORAD, responding to an alert, scrambled fighters. The fighters, not knowing WTF they were dealing with, decided to use all the speed they felt they needed in order to ascertain what was going on and protect the public.

  4. Wanna bet the real reason was that pesky Russian sub being so close to the President, and doing something suspicious?

  5. “A military event could mean a lot of things – an attack on our country, a coup, a training exercise, etc.”
    LOL, as if anybody would attack on the fringes of South Florida, let alone stage a coup. Even the bumf**ks at Ruby Ridge had more credibility.
    “We heard numerous reports of distress, including police coming out of their stations with guns drawn, children crying, 911 calls overwhelming the operators, and neighbors rushing outside their homes and getting to know each other.”
    Crying children? Is this satire? Certainly it’s annoying, but do you expect first responders and people calling 911 for an emergency to check bulletins first? Sadly, our society can be at times ill-informed. Us South Florida natives are used to it back from the Space Shuttle.
    Let me guess, you’re one of those people complaining about tax dollars going to protecting Trump, but don’t mind all the waste and fraud which lines you and your lawyer pal pockets. Something has to pay for those hidden charges from Sprint, I suppose.

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