Anyone seen those fighter planes over Chicago today
August 17, 2007 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Anyone know why there are two F14 fighter jets flying back and forth over Chicago today? At one point I saw them escorting a much smaller plane that looks like it may be an old WWII fighter plane. I've been hearing these huge sonic booms for hours now.
posted by postergeist to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (30 answers total)
Air and Water Show

They're practicing today.
posted by fancypants at 11:26 AM on August 17, 2007

They did that earlier this year in Milwaukee for the air show.
posted by JJ86 at 11:28 AM on August 17, 2007

You're probably not really hearing sonic booms.
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 11:29 AM on August 17, 2007

Hm, I don't know, we're seeing F-14 flyovers right here in Portsmouth, NH, right now.

You wonder what's up, you really do.
posted by Miko at 11:30 AM on August 17, 2007

[You're probably not really hearing sonic booms.]

Well what do you call it when an F14 flys across the sky faster than anything you've ever seen and shakes the ground and rattles your eardrums?
posted by postergeist at 11:38 AM on August 17, 2007

Jet fighters just have really loud engines; sonic booms are much worse, and will cause things like glass to break.

(Also, you're not seeing F-14s, unless Iran has invaded. The US military retired all its F-14s last year, and worked to make sure that any it parted with had all the crucial parts removed so that they wouldn't fall into Iranian hands, since they have some F-14s.)
posted by Godbert at 11:41 AM on August 17, 2007

"Well what do you call it when an F14 flys across the sky faster than anything you've ever seen and shakes the ground and rattles your eardrums?"

Jet propulsion. Any vintage aircraft in flight is likely to be an airshow type thing.
posted by Jacen at 11:41 AM on August 17, 2007

As part of the Civil Defense program in the '50s, my mother (as a child) was taught to identify the models and national origin of various sorts of military aircraft that might be seen in the skies in the event of war.

Nowadays whenever she sees something like that, she says, "I hope it's one of ours!" And honestly I don't know what else you can do.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:42 AM on August 17, 2007

Well what do you call it when an F14 flys across the sky faster than anything you've ever seen and shakes the ground and rattles your eardrums?

The normal sound of an F14.

If it were a sonic boom, you wouldn't have heard a thing until there was one big giant CRACK! all at once that sounded like your house exploded.
posted by The World Famous at 11:42 AM on August 17, 2007

Whatever they are, they're the same planes i learned to call "F-14"s based on people hanging around me in the days after 9-11 when they constantly buzzed the mid-Atlantic coast. I don't know what the technical fighter-jet term for them is, but since everyone authoritatively called them F-14s, I accepted that's what they were. I'd be interesed to know what these BIG-ASS, LOUD-ASS planes are and why they're here as well as over Chicago today. It's rare.
posted by Miko at 11:48 AM on August 17, 2007

Most likely F-16 Fighting Falcons or F/A-18 Hornets. I think the F-15 Eagle has been delegated to Air National Guard use nowdays.
posted by mrbill at 11:54 AM on August 17, 2007

The Air and Water show is this weekend, they've been flying over for the past couple of days. No sonic booms though.

"The Chicago Air & Water Show is the largest two-day spectator event in the United States and the longest ongoing show of its kind in North America. The 2007 Chicago Air & Water Show will take place August 18 & 19."

Air Show Site
posted by jstark at 11:56 AM on August 17, 2007

Miko: I'm guessing your planes have to do with this
posted by fancypants at 12:00 PM on August 17, 2007

ikkyu2: a few years back there was a very early MIG (straight wing) fighter flying over Seattle as part of Sea Fair. We watched it for a while, and it occurred to me how truly strange a sight it was. 25 years earlier, a MIG over Seattle would be a horror, not a curiosity.
posted by Good Brain at 12:01 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Although I have no citation, it probably wasn't a sonic boom as supersonic flight over land is illegal in the US (for the most part - they might do it over airbases in Alaska).

That's the reason they never had Concordes flying NYC-LAX. Far too noisy.
posted by GuyZero at 12:23 PM on August 17, 2007

The crowd at Wrigley loves it, apparently. And the Cards radio crew is having a good time watching it all from their booth.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 12:31 PM on August 17, 2007

If it were a sonic boom, you wouldn't have heard a thing until there was one big giant CRACK! all at once that sounded like your house exploded.
posted by The World Famous at 2:42 PM on August 17 [+][!]

Exactly. No sound and then BOOM, which if the plane is close enough to see, is probably big enough to shatter windows. I haven't heard one of these in years, but boy were they loud. A modern fighter jet under high thrust makes a tremendous amount of noise. Now imagine all that noise you heard piling up into one large wave, that's a sonic boom.
posted by caddis at 12:33 PM on August 17, 2007

fancypants, yup! I just spoke to a co-worker whose husband is headed to that show, so that explains that.

My life experience also jibes with what's being said about the sonic boom. We used to hear it every now and then when I was a kid in Central NJ. Assumed it was the Concorde leaving NY. I haven't heard one since then.
posted by Miko at 12:35 PM on August 17, 2007

An F15 flew over Manhattan this afternoon too, according to this:

I'm kinda bummed I was at lunch, I would've liked to have seen it.
posted by GreenTentacle at 12:41 PM on August 17, 2007

Googling around, it looks like you probably saw a "heritage flight" with an F-22, F-15, and P-51. These heritage flights are pretty common at air shows. You wouldn't be crazy to confuse an F-22 or F-15 with an F-14 -- all of them have twin vertical tails, and only the F-14 was in Top Gun.

The listings show that there are F-18s, but there's no listing of a Navy/USMC heritage flight, so it's probably not them.

And yeah, it was just normal fighter jets maybe with their afterburners on. A sonic boom at that low level leave a wake of destruction and deaf people behind it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:51 PM on August 17, 2007

When the power went out all up and down the easter seaboard a few years back, it was at the same time as the practice for the Air and Water show. So here I am listening to NPR in my car and no one knew what had happened other than this freakish occurrence and then WHADDYAKNOW BOOM! overhead. I had forgotten about the practice and so I started to freak ("Dear god, what is going on?!? Power outages? Fighter jets?")

But it's all good. The show is a good time to get boozled and ogle what our future generations are already in debt for.
posted by mjbraun at 1:03 PM on August 17, 2007

CNN's story, about the fact that Russia today has put 20 strategic nuclear bombers in the air for the first time in 15 years, is a little better written.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:04 PM on August 17, 2007

When I was still in Chicago, I heard the same thing the day the Paxton Hotel caught on fire and we had no radio or electricity, so there wasn't much to verify that it wasn't the Russians.

This time; definitely the air show. Find a friend with a condo near the beach with a rooftop deck. Best place to view the action.
posted by answergrape at 1:11 PM on August 17, 2007

I saw the same sight from out at the Adler. It was an F-15, an F-22, and a P-51. Watched em form up. And yeah the sky in Chicago has been active today.
posted by rlk at 4:35 PM on August 17, 2007

Welcome to Cluster-Fuck Weekend 2007, better known as the Air and Water Show. Bring your sun screen, screaming kids, and be sure to drive your hulking SUV around the 'hood as you search in vain for non-existing parking while loud ass jets burn fuel for fun overhead.

Don't want to drive? No worries. You and the family can pile into either of the two slow ass CTA buses that run once every three hours. Bonus points if you get one that actually has working ac.

Its kind of like Taste of Chicago, only with flying weapons of mass destruction instead of over priced food tents. Ye haw!
posted by wfrgms at 10:13 PM on August 17, 2007

The same exact thing happened to me that year. Heh.

So far I've seen a couple of F-16s and an F-18. Stay off Lakeshore Drive tomorrow and Sunday. People will actually park on it to watch the show.

Frikin' tourists. Go back to Naperville!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:49 PM on August 17, 2007

the F-16's did a couple of passes yesterday but what you saw were probably the two (much louder) F-15 jets, a pack of F-18 in close formation and a spitfire (I have yet to see the 22). I've been watching them from my office in the wrigley building all day.

if you actually had heard a sonic boom, the windows would have blown out. a jet needs to go 761 mph to create the boom. 250 knots - or 287 mph is the legal speed limit for air traffic below 10,000 feet and every time the military (or any other operator using a capable aircraft) wishes to exceed that speed, they have to go to a designated area and request special permission. that is not going to happen over a city but more in places like the speed alleys in nevada.

the speeds you see at the airshow and during the preparation are much lower than that. I'd suspect they're going around 180 to 200 knots. around 140 should be the stall speed here.
posted by krautland at 11:19 PM on August 17, 2007

They must get the relevant permissions as a matter of course, or as a requirement of appearing. The "sneak passes" are very high subsonic, 600+mph.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:59 PM on August 17, 2007

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