James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Sonic boom from RAF jet heard across London, Essex and Cambridge
12 January 2021, 13:55 | Updated: 12 January 2021, 16:12
Millions of residents across London, Essex and Cambridge were startled by a sonic boom explosion of an RAF jet breaking the sound barrier.
Many people took to social media wondering what had happened when the loud bang was heard.
Some say their ears hurt and that it "was like an explosion had gone off".
But Cambridge City Council confirmed the noise was due to an RAF fighter jet.
They tweeted: "If you heard a massively loud bang over Cambridge in the last few minutes, don't panic - apparently it was the sonic boom from a fighter plane breaking the sound barrier!"
If you heard a massively loud bang over #Cambridge in the last few minutes, don't panic - apparently it was the sonic boom from a fighter plane breaking the sound barrier!— Cambridge City Council (@camcitco) January 12, 2021
A sonic boom occurs when a jet breaks through the sound barrier because it is going over 767mph.
Several people photographed smoke trails in the sky moments after the bang.
According to flight tracker, the plane was a Eurofighter Typhoon, a British flown fighter jet.
It took place just after 1pm this lunchtime.
Video of the Typhoon ZK357 flying over Stansted Airport after a QRA scramble to escort a aircraft into the airport pic.twitter.com/4AEFfVrzyY— Intel Air & Sea (@air_intel) January 12, 2021
The sonic boom could be the result of a quick reaction alert as the Eurofighter is used in interception roles.
A few moments after the sonic boom, the RAF was scrambled to escort an "unresponsive" aircraft, according to Sky Scan World.
The plane was a German rental plane from Nuremberg in Bavaria, making its way to Stanstead Airport.
The fighter planes later returned to base but police helicopters were reported at the airport.
Stanstead Airport, in Essex, is commonly used for emergency and forced landings as it poses less risk than London airports due to being surrounded by countryside.
An RAF spokesman 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."