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BIG BANG IS CAUGHT ON CAMERA; The moment sonic boom jet intercepted helicopter which sparked hijack alert civilian Gazelle helicopter which Typhoon. In January, the MoD con-heard.

Byline: Duncan Gibbons

THIS is the dramatic moment a fighter jet which sparked a massive shockwave over the Midlands intercepted a helicopter which accidentally issued an emergency alert.

The Typhoon was scrambled from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire on Thursday evening, causing panic in Coventry and Warwickshire.

It intercepted the civilian helicopter near Bath.

The MoD said the Typhoon was one of two which had been scrambled after a helicopter pilot accidentally transmitted a hijack distress code near Bristol.

An RAF spokesman said the Typhoons were responding to a civilian Gazelle helicopter which had lost radio contact and was transmitting on an emergency frequency reserved for hijack incidents or being under attack.

The spokesman said: "Authorisation was given for one of the Typhoons to transit at supersonic speed over land, which resulted in the sonic boom heard by the public. After identification, the helicopter successfully re-established communications with air traffic control.

"The reason for the emergency signal and communications failure is yet to be determined."

Typhoon Eurofighters are capable of flying at 1,550mph - more than twice the speed of sound.

It is the second time this year that a sonic boom has been created by a Typhoon. In January, the MoD con-firmed that a loud noise heard by people in the north of England was caused by an RAF fighter jet breaking the sound barrier.

However, the picture and official explanation have not been enough to put off conspiracy theorists.

They questioned a MoD statement which said the boom - heard across much of the Midlands and beyond - was caused by a jet fighter breaking the sound barrier at 10,000ft.

People flooded social networking sites to say the explanation did not stack up, claiming the sonic boom would not have been heard over such a large area and it would not have caused so many side-effects.

At that height, they claim, the splitsecond blast should only have been heard ten miles away, although a much longer boom can be created if a pilot maintains supersonic speed and altitude because the noise travels with the aircraft. James Tite, 25, was shopping at the Airport Retail Park in Whitley when he heard the bang at about 6.10pm on Thursday.

"I just don't believe that's what it was," he said. "It took too long to explain. And it must have been flying very low for the shockwave to make the buildings shake. It just seems the shockwave would not be able to reach the areas it did."

An explosion at an ammunition dump in Kineton, a blast at the cement works in Leamington and an earthquake were some of the early theories behind the boom.


SCRAMBLED: The jet roars past the helicopter in the skies over Bath on Thursday evening.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 14, 2012
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