This is What the Sonic Boom from the Concorde Sounded Like

Photo: Getty Images

The Concorde, in case you were born after it retired in 2003, was the only passenger airliner to fly faster than the speed of sound. That very feature is directly responsible for its demise. It was too thirsty, too small, and the routes it could fly were extremely limited because it made an enormous CRA-BOOM as it flew overhead.

Using its four afterburning jet engines (yes, afterburning, just like on a fighter jet or a B-1B bomber) it could comfortably cruise above Mach 2, or around 1,340 mph at its cruising altitude of 60,000 feet.


And while that was great for people jetting between New York and London in half the six hours it usually takes us peasants to fly the route, it produced an extremely loud sonic boom, the product of the continuous shockwave generated behind it as it flew ahead of the sound barrier. Which very few people ever heard, considering that international flight regulations restricted the jet to supersonic speeds over bodies of water, only.

Unless you were in a boat in the middle of the Atlantic, like these people:

The overflight comes around 53 seconds in to the minute-and-19-second video, though it’s front-loaded with some super-loud Concorde takeoff footage.(That’s another reason why the Concorde wasn’t that popular. People who lived near airports didn’t exactly love it.)

You can clearly see the plane silently flying overhead, 60,000 feet up, before CA-CRACK, and everyone on the boat is like “ah shhhh... JEEZ.”

Sonic booms can be loud enough to shatter windows, so I get the opposition.

But it’s pretty dang neat.

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Michael Ballaban

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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