It wasn’t an earthquake but a sonic boom. Again.
For the second time this year, military aircraft off the coast of South Jersey generated a sonic boom that was widely felt throughout the area, shaking the homes and nerves of South Jersey residents.
Patrick Gordon, public affairs officer from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in eastern Maryland confirmed Friday morning “we did have an aircraft that was cleared to go supersonic off the coast of South Jersey” late Thursday afternoon.
Gordon said the F-35 “Joint Strike Fighter” plane departed Patuxent River at 3 p.m. Thursday and conducted exercises off of the coast of South Jersey. The plane landed shortly after 4:30 p.m. Gordon could not confirm if the plane actually did achieve supersonic speed.
Gordon said the F-35 conducted exercises in an area off the Mid-Atlantic coast that stretches off the coast of South Jersey south to Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Gordon said this area is known as the “test track” and is located at least three miles off the coast.
It was aircraft from the same Maryland Naval Air Station that were responsible for the sonic boom and widespread tremors that were felt in January. Sonic booms have caused tremors over the past few years.
Residents in three counties reported feeling shaking and tremors Thursday afternoon.
The tremors hit about 4:25 p.m. Residents from Wildwood to Harvey Cedars to Hammonton reported them.
The U.S. Geological Survey had not reported any seismic activity in the area, so the cause was not believed to be an earthquake.
The 177th Air National Guard Fighter Wing did not have planes in the air at the time, according to public information officer Sgt. Andrew Moseley.
Michael Weissmann, of Hammonton, said it felt just like the sonic boom that rocked the southern part of the state earlier this year.
“It felt exactly the same way,” he said. “I thought it was the wind. I looked outside and the leaves weren’t shaking.”
In Harvey Cedars, Brian Devlin said the tremors shook the glasses and vases in the house.
“The whole house shook,” he said.
More information on the military’s F-35 and the Joint Strike Fighter program can be found at www.jsf.mil.