Supersonic RAF jet suspected of causing panic in Western Isles


ISLANDERS thought their roofs were about to fall in following a suspected sonic boom.


Residents of the Western Isles reported a massive blast which caused windows to rattle and bottles to be knocked off a bar.


The RAF has admitted the panic could have been caused by one of its jets breaking the sound barrier.




They claimed the sound blast may have been made worse by “high pressure”.


The local MP is writing to the Ministry of Defence to demand “straight answers” and ask whether the RAF breached any rules.


Angus MacNeil, MP for the Western Isles, said the incident on Wednesday lunchtime seemed to be worst on Barra.


“People thought the roofs were going to fall in. It was rattling the roof of the Co-op in Barra, people in the hospital felt it and people felt their homes shaking.


“It seems to be everyone on Barra felt it as well as in South Uist.”


Mr MacNeil said: “I will write to the MoD for an explanation for the boom and if all the protocols of any military activity were adhered to. If they don’t know what cause it I would be quite concerned.”


Councillor Ronald MacKinnon was tending to sheep in the machair in Daliburgh, South Uist, when the boom hit.


“It was one loud explosion,” said Cllr MacKinnon. “The way I was looking it came from the south. It was that loud I thought it must be near me.


“I thought someone had put a blast off or something strange.”


Cllr MacKinnon continued: “It was quite frightening. I looked around, I looked towards the houses and everything had stopped.


“I will start asking questions today. That was really frightening for old people at home by themselves.”
An RAF spokesman said the it was likely the noise was caused by shock waves created by an aircraft during routine training exercises.


He said it is “routine operational training to fly supersonic” but that “unusual atmospheric conditions” could be the reason the islands shook.


“High pressure zone over the UK means sound travels further,” he said. “It is likely it was operational training, carrying out standard operational training over the North Sea and North of Scotland.”


Yesterday the RAF admitted to causing a sonic boom over London and Kent as RAF Typhoons broke the sound barrier.


The jets from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire were given permission to travel at supersonic speeds over mainland Britain to intercept a Latvian cargo plane which had lost contact with air traffic controllers.